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North Coast | Environment & Forest Defense

Fracking California's Farmland - Sunset Travel Magazine, & CapRadio
by Tomas DiFiore
Monday Mar 31st, 2014 1:18 PM
In one week, a quantity of water which could serve the yearly needs of 5,000 – 7,000 California families is pumped down into the ground, as steam. It comes back out with the oil, as produced water. As production falls off, steam injection is again applied, hence the term “Cyclic Steam Injection”. That means that in one year, in one oil field in California, the quantity of water used to steam the earth would serve 60,000 to 70,000 households (single family of four, 3 bedroom) including landscape needs. Compare this to the Sunset Magazine/CapRadio segment of the water used to frac in California as stated: 133 million gallons over two and a half years.
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Fracking California's Farmland - Sunset Travel Magazine

The April issue of Sunset Magazine (online) has a well written story on California concerns over fracking. Actually, more specifically, California concerns over fracking the Monterey Shale. North of the Monterey Shale a lot of 'new' resources will be tapped, both for oil and gas, and further north still, the un-associated gas in the gas-fields of the north state. Interestingly it mentions the Eel River Basin, stating that “the Monterey Shale, is a checkerboard of discrete basins that stretches from Southern California’s Orange County to the Eel River watershed north of Ukiah.”

The Future of Fracking in California From the April 2014 Issue Sunset Magazine

Listen/view Capital Public Radio's (the Sunset article) companion report at:

There are some great photos, and decent quotes, but confusion arises overall as the articles progress. Anyone can see, though, that this graphic (shown in upload with added language in red) is not from “Drilling California” though the footnotes at CapRadio suggest that it is.

Though overall the Sunset article presents an even keeled view of the debate, it appears to be only from a perspective of what will it take to get the oil and gas safely out of the ground. The last paragraph sums up the quandary. The companion article, adds confusion with an audio clip, and the above graphic which diminishes the concerns of people over the water usage by the oil and gas industry using quotes from DOGGR and the listed CERES source document.

While specific facts are drawn from the USC/WSPA report and included in the Sunset article, no specific details are used from the research report Drilling California:

It is only mentioned that the report Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale,

by J. David Hughes was prepared in cooperation with PSE and the Post Carbon Institute to counter the USC/WSPA report. In Drilling California the Overview states:

“In 2011, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) published a report by INTEK Inc. which stated that the Monterey Formation contains 15.4 billion barrels of technically recoverable tight oil (therein referred to as “shale oil”) or 64 percent of the entire estimated tight oil resource in the Lower-48 United States at that time. This estimate was seized upon by industry groups intent on the development of the Monterey shale, and was used as the basis of a March 2013 University of Southern California (USC) economic analysis which projected as much as a $24.6 billion per year increase in tax revenue and 2.8 million additional jobs by 2020. The report is here: University of Southern California, USC Price School of Public Policy, The Monterey Shale and California’s Economic Future, (March 2013) In Association with The Communication Institute (TCI) and Partial Support from Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA)”

In the CERES document it is stated that:
California Data Summary (January 1, 2011 - May 31, 2013)
Total Water Use (gallons): 113 million
Average Water Use (gallons/well): 134,000
“Analysis of hydraulic fracturing-related water use is preliminary due to the small number of wells in production voluntarily reported to FracFocus. Water use per well appears to be very low because of the region’s reliance on acid fracs to stimulate the wells.”

Of course if DOGGR says fracking water usage is 300 acre feet, well then that's like about 98 million gallons per year used to frac in California!

Immediately below the graphic are shown 3 sources links.
Source: Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale by J. David Hughes in association with Post Carbon Institute and Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Health Energy

*Source: Hydraulic Fracturing & Water Stress: Water Demand by the Numbers. This study was conducted by Ceres, a nonprofit organization.

**The California Department of Conservation figure is based on voluntary data provided by oil companies.

It would appear that the graphic or a quote on it, is from the report Drilling California: A Reality Check on the Monterey Shale, but such is not the case. The Report “Drilling California” is only referred to as: “A new study says those figures are exaggerated.”

Now for another water usage comparison, albeit brief:

In California, one company, in one oil field each day uses 60 million gallons of water per day from the California Aqueduct and injects it as steam into wells in a process not covered by SB 4 Well Stimulation Regulations, called Steam Injection.

Cyclic steam injection repeats this process for a week or more at a time, then the ground is allowed to cool slightly, at which time production begins and oil flows up out the well. When production falls off, the process is repeated.

If only applied 12 weeks in a year, that's 5 billion gallons allocated from the California Aqueduct, taken from the aquifers, rivers and watersheds of the northern part of the State.

See the 4 minute video by This American Land; Mixing Oil And Water:

The math below is pretty close, though slightly rounded.

1.4 million barrels a day. 42 (gallons) x 1.4 million is 58,800,000 almost 60 million gallons. That's 184 acre feet each day. A seven day cycle equals 1288 acre feet of water usage, and with 12 cycles per year, that's 15,456 acre feet of water per year turned to steam, and injected underground.

Compared to the water usage of a single family of four, in a 3 bedroom household, that's roughly equivalent to the yearly water usage of 700-1000 families in California, each day.

In one week, a quantity of water which could serve the yearly needs of 5,000 – 7,000 California families is pumped down into the ground, as steam. It comes back out with the oil, as produced water. As production falls off, steam injection is again applied, hence the term “Cyclic Steam Injection”. That means that in one year, in one oil field in California, the quantity of water used to steam the earth would serve 60,000 to 70,000 households (single family of four, 3 bedroom) including landscape needs.

Steam Injection Is Literally Global Warming
Steam Injection, is another water intensive GHG emitting method of oil and/or gas extraction federally subsidized and called Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR).

From Kern County, California to the Alaskan Tundra, Global Warming Is A Literal Translation

Extreme Oil Drilling (National Geographic)

“It takes 81 trillion btu’s everyday just to warm the ground here at Kern.”
25 square miles to 1600 feet deep. It takes so much energy, enough to power one large air conditioner for every human being on the planet.” It takes 81 Trillion btu's per day to heat Kern County to 200 degrees. How many mercury light bulbs does it take to save one billion kW per hour?

Kilowatt Hours (Kwh) to btu (british thermal unit) conversion table shows the most common values for the quick reference.
1 Kwh = 3,412.14163 Btu/hr

81 Trillion btu's per day
81 trillion divided by 24 (hours) =

3,375,000,000,000 btu per hr
3,375,000,000,000 btu divided by 3,412 btu/hr =

989,155,920.281 kwh
almost a billion KW per hour

I know the Frackinator Governor of California has said that of all the states, “and even of most of the countries of the world, California is the leader in dealing with climate change. From AB 32, to our building and appliance efficiency standards, our renewable portfolio standard and our support of electric vehicles, California is leading the way.” California is leading the way with pollution allowance permits under CARB.

Blame BLM

BLM has been mentioned a lot lately. Articles quote BLM field technicians, petroleum geologists, and as in the Sunset article, we can look to the future for improvements at BLM. But when we discuss environmental impacts and well failures, and potential for contaminate vectors, one has to ask, why exactly was it, that BLM was sued?

BLM Office In Bakersfield Is Not Performing Casing Or Cementing Inspections (2011)

According to a mid 2011 Internal Control Review (ICR) the BLM conducted of it's onshore oil and gas Inspection and Enforcement (I&E) program, “The drilling inspection process in Bakersfield is best summarized as a light review of drilling activity and, most importantly, exhibited a lack of proper documentation. Inspections reviewed had few or no comments in the AFMSS database. Supporting documentation, such as cement job reports, tally sheets, Blowout Preventer (BOPE) test results as well as charts of the test, were never included.”


“They do not perform casing inspections. There are budget concerns. All Petroleum Expert Technicians (PETs) were concerned about the limited funding to do the required high priority work; instruction is given to leave well locations by 3:00 p.m.”

“Bakersfield staff is not performing casing or cementing inspections. The lack of experienced PETs in this office limits the ability to lead training for the new personnel. PETs do not enter their inspections into AFMSS individually; inspections are entered by a PST. This could lead to details lost on inspections that may be significant.

“Environmental - It also appears upon review that staff is doing virtually no Environmental or Production inspections outside of onsite visits (which were improperly coded) and surface abandonments. None of the 13 inspections examined had very descriptive comments; the most explanatory had only a few sentences and no pictures. Often the remarks were limited to very short comments. ES inspections should only be conducted for “post-approval activities” and onsite visits are definitely pre-approval. This type of inspection seems to be the most common conducted by staff.”

The Environmental Protection Specialist (EPS) is a position on the Minerals staff of the BLM whose duties include Hazardous Materials. When oil and gas (O&G) facilities are constructed and removed, an inspection is necessary because of the methods the operator must employ to handle sour gas. For facility removal, asbestos, lead paint, and the concentration of mercury in tank bottoms may occur.

From the: US Department of the Interior BLM, Minerals and Realty Management Division of Fluid Minerals 2011 Inspection and Enforcement Internal Control Review of Documentation of Inspections and Review of Drilling, Environmental, and Production Inspections

That same year, there was the potential of lawsuits and an EPA audit of the DOGGR California Underground Injection Control Program in June 2011. DOGGR issued new MOUs with BLM in 2012. But the continued lack of data, lack of knowledge of data, and a 'repetitive parroting' of Industry language skill sets and PowerPoint Presentations, didn't add up and were scrutinized flaw by flaw with no adequate response by DOGGR at the February 12th 2013 Senate Natural Resources and Water and Senate Environmental Quality Joint Informational Hearing in Sacramento on the “Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing in Oil and Gas Production in California".

The Sunset article mentions the BLM lawsuit by Center for Biological Diversity, and resolves it with “BLM is now in settlement talks with the plaintiffs and has promised a fuller environmental review before moving forward.”

The 2013 update of “Law and Order in the Oil and Gas Fields” which analyzes state inspection data from five western oil-producing states, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wyoming, as well as the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) data in the same 5 states Findings include a similar recurring theme as the “Bakersfield BLM Office” in the 2011 Internal Control Review (ICR) the BLM conducted of it's onshore oil and gas Inspection and Enforcement (I&E) program.

All agencies studied take very few enforcement actions, and fines and penalties are infrequent and trivial. BLM collected less than $150 per violation on average. “BLM Board of Oil and Gas commission should at least comply with the recommendations of the 2011 Legislative Audit. Now, it would seem easier for companies to just pay the fines and resume business as usual.”

Well, it is basically a good article in the Sunset Travel magazine. The CapRadio companion article is not. Fracking and well stimulation in California have gotten to be a very big topic. Accuracy is important.

I recommend both articles, then initiate Fracking Moratoriums Now;
before exploratory wells, and leases muddy the waters of stakeholders.

Ban Oil and Gas Development In Mendocino County. Mendocino County is not currently an oil or gas producing county. Community Rights Initiatives Rule!
Tomas DiFiore

by Tomas DiFiore
Saturday Apr 5th, 2014 8:26 AM
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See the companion article update:

Well Failures Fracking California's Future
by Tomas DiFiore
Thursday Apr 3rd, 2014