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This Week in OilFollow

#1 Jan 23 2013 at 11:08 PM Rating: Excellent
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Australia may have as much as 233 billion barrels of oil according to new discoveries. For comparison, Saudi Arabia has about 270 billion barrels under the sand. So are you Aussies going to build giant skyscrapers and construct your own island resorts (by literally creating islands)?

Ok, so that 233bil number is a best case scenario but there's still potentially a whole lot of bubblin' crude down there.

Also, Nebraska's governor has finally agreed to new routing of the Keystone XL pipeline away from some of the most environmentally sensitive areas. His previous objections were part of the justification Obama gave for nixing the plan after the GOP tried to force a deadline. Now, with the new proposed routing, TransCanada will be reapplying and we'll see how it goes from there.
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#2 Jan 23 2013 at 11:13 PM Rating: Excellent
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Oh boy, I'm going to Australia and getting boomerang shrapnel.
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#3 Jan 24 2013 at 8:01 AM Rating: Good
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Coober Pedy huh? I lived right down the road from there when I was in the AF.

I can't say I'm surprised, a continent that big had to have some natural resources other than slow moving bears, hopping rats, the most poisonous snakes/spiders in the world, and really hot chicks with cute accents.
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#4 Jan 24 2013 at 8:19 AM Rating: Good
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Let's not forget about koalas. Hideous, disgusting koalas.
#5 Jan 24 2013 at 9:44 AM Rating: Excellent
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Guenny wrote:
Let's not forget about koalas. Hideous, disgusting koalas.


For some reason I thought I saw the word delicious the first time I read this. Now I'm hungry for one. Smiley: frown
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#6 Jan 24 2013 at 1:18 PM Rating: Good
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Is it just me who thinks of how silly the Mad Max films now look?

I'm saddened by this discovery, why? Necessity is the mother of invention and the realization that oil stocks will run out is starting to motivate the development of greener technologies. With this much oil found in a relatively stable country that could set us back a decade ... unless Japan invades Australia for it's Oil .. or maybe a US liberation forces decide to protect the new supply ...

Edited, Jan 24th 2013 2:19pm by SayingHi
#7 Jan 24 2013 at 1:43 PM Rating: Good
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Guenny wrote:
Let's not forget about koalas. Hideous, disgusting koalas.


That was my reference to slow moving bears. Bit of a stretch, I'll admit.
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#8 Jan 24 2013 at 3:19 PM Rating: Excellent
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Yeah, everyone knows Koalas aren't bears. Smiley: rolleyes

Reading the article, about 1% of the oil is actually sweet crude and easily extractible. The other 99% is very very deep shale rock and requires the heavily expensive fracking procedure to extract it. Not to mention that the current fracking tech in use nastily and heavily contaminates groundwater, which would be a problem in Australia, as most of the outback relies on one of the biggest artesian wells in the world for its drinking, livestock, and washing water.

Given world desperation for oil, this'll go ahead. But it's no Saudi Arabia, which is based on liquid, sweet crude. Green tech is probably now at the stage where it can compete in price against expensive fracking of shale.
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#9 Jan 24 2013 at 3:28 PM Rating: Default
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Aripyanfar wrote:
Reading the article, about 1% of the oil is actually sweet crude and easily extractible. The other 99% is very very deep shale rock and requires the heavily expensive fracking procedure to extract it. Not to mention that the current fracking tech in use nastily and heavily contaminates groundwater, which would be a problem in Australia, as most of the outback relies on one of the biggest artesian wells in the world for its drinking, livestock, and washing water.


If it's in "very very deep" shale rock, then the potential problems with fracking are pretty much nil.

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Given world desperation for oil, this'll go ahead. But it's no Saudi Arabia, which is based on liquid, sweet crude. Green tech is probably now at the stage where it can compete in price against expensive fracking of shale.


Green tech (could you be more specific?) is no where near competitive against even relatively expensive oil recovery processes. But if it is (or is soon), then that's great. Let them compete!


Oh. I had the same Max Max thought to. Except I imagined Gigantus, or whatever his name was, lording over his patch of ground where the oil wells are, making everyone else bow to him or something.

Edited, Jan 24th 2013 1:29pm by gbaji
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#10 Jan 24 2013 at 3:28 PM Rating: Excellent
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But with all the oil you'll sell think of how many desalinization plants you can build, I mean your entire country is just one big coastline.

And if you're worried about the coal consumption needed to power the plants, just switch to a wildfire based power supply.
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#11 Jan 24 2013 at 4:01 PM Rating: Good
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If it's in "very very deep" shale rock, then the potential problems with fracking are pretty much nil.


You are either basing this on ground hole pressure or the thought that water stays in the ground during the fracking process, both of which are incorrect.

It is true that the deeper the hole the more pressure, but that pressure decrease at a drastic rate, the downward curve for pressure is like an arch with a steep drop as the well produces, which is what necessitates fracking in the first place. The well will produce for 20 years, but the pressure down hole will only produce at profitable rates for the first couple years, after that is when fracking kicks in.

Drinking water is usually only within the first couple thousand feet down and drilling is primarily 5-6k feet down with some exceptions closer to 9-12k feet. The drinking water contamination occurs when the fracking liquids are returning to the surface and leak out of the casing.

Fracking = pumpling salt water and chemicals into the well which attracts gases, liquids, and oil and then returns to the surface where it is all separated.
#12 Jan 24 2013 at 5:58 PM Rating: Good
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I'm still trying to learn about fracking, as I had a gal come around during the election trying to get me to sign a petition to try to get local counsel to ban it within so many yards of residential neighborhoods or some such. I told her I wouldn't sign it as I didn't know enough about it.

I watched Gasland on HBO which was, while admittedly not the most objective documentary, pretty disturbing. Seeing people that live not 20 miles from my house being able to light their water on fire was a little scary. It still seems like there's a lot to be learned about the process, but since it seems to be immune from EPA regulations I don't know how long it will be till we know the full ramifications of it.
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#13 Jan 24 2013 at 6:11 PM Rating: Default
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Kronig wrote:
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If it's in "very very deep" shale rock, then the potential problems with fracking are pretty much nil.


You are either basing this on ground hole pressure or the thought that water stays in the ground during the fracking process, both of which are incorrect.


Nope. And by "nope" I don't mean that you're wrong, but that neither of those match the reason I'm basing this on.

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Drinking water is usually only within the first couple thousand feet down and drilling is primarily 5-6k feet down with some exceptions closer to 9-12k feet. The drinking water contamination occurs when the fracking liquids are returning to the surface and leak out of the casing.


Drinking water contamination specific to fracking (ie: not potentially present in any other form of drilling) occurs when the fracking is being done on a layer that is very near to the water table. This causes gasses from the layer broken up by the process itself to mix with the water. This is a result of earlier attempts at the process which were not deep enough. If the layer of shale is "very very deep", it will be well below the water table and well outside any danger of direct contamination.

Obviously, any time you are drawing material out of the earth which passes through the water table there is a chance of some contamination, but that's not specific to fracking. Same thing can happen with normal oil wells, gas taps, etc. This is one of the issues that is grossly misstated about fracking in order to make it sound like it's somehow inherently more dangerous than other methods of drilling. If the layer of material being fracked is deep enough, it's just as safe as any other drilling method in terms of potential contamination.

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Fracking = pumpling salt water and chemicals into the well which attracts gases, liquids, and oil and then returns to the surface where it is all separated.


It's a little more involved than that. The whole point of pumping the water into the rock is to offset the natural pressures the ground places on itself (which tends to hold the oil and gas in place), allowing said oil/gas to be released out through the well. The danger is based on where you're fracturing the rock layer. If it's close vertically to a water layer, then gasses can be released through the earth itself into that water layer causing contamination. If it's deep enough, the fracturing process wont allow gas to escape far enough through the ground (cause there's still pressure to consider) to reach the water layer.

That's why this is largely a myth that Hollywood perpetrates on us about this issue. That's not to say it can't happen (or even hasn't happened), but that current methodologies and restrictions make it unlikely that it will happen. The correct response isn't to blindly fight against fracking, but to makes sure that proper regulations are in place to ensure it's only done in layers deep enough to ensure no direct contamination of a water supply can happen. Again though, if the shale in this case is "very very deep", there's no danger of that happening. The only way oil or gas could get into the water layer is via the drill well itself. And at the risk of repeating myself, that's a risk that can happen in any form of well. The fracking process itself has no effect on that at all.
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#14 Jan 24 2013 at 8:19 PM Rating: Excellent
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This is one of the issues that is grossly misstated about fracking in order to make it sound like it's somehow inherently more dangerous than other methods of drilling. If the layer of material being fracked is deep enough, it's just as safe as any other drilling method in terms of potential contamination.


Except fracking was going on before there were even basic regulations in place, like, "tell us what you're pumping in there" & being surprised to find out it was poison.

And sure, flowback is an issue with conventional drilling too, but with fracking you get all that crap ON TOP of the oil.

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#15 Jan 24 2013 at 9:57 PM Rating: Default
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Omegavegeta wrote:
Gbaji wrote:
This is one of the issues that is grossly misstated about fracking in order to make it sound like it's somehow inherently more dangerous than other methods of drilling. If the layer of material being fracked is deep enough, it's just as safe as any other drilling method in terms of potential contamination.


Except fracking was going on before there were even basic regulations in place, like, "tell us what you're pumping in there" & being surprised to find out it was poison.


Yes. Which is a great argument for getting in your time machine and warning them to be more careful back then. It's a terrible argument to oppose modern fracking techniques being used today. Guess which one folks are doing though? Want to ask Matt Damon?

Quote:
And sure, flowback is an issue with conventional drilling too, but with fracking you get all that crap ON TOP of the oil.


Except that "all that crap" is mostly water (hence the "hydro" in hydrofracturing, which is where we get the word "fracking". It's certainly not anything that will get into the water table and make it flammable. Water is pressed into a layer with oil/gas containing rock and is used to fracture that layer, thus releasing the oil and gas through the drilled well via that pressure. That's all that's being done. It's not magic. It doesn't cause gas to travel thousands of feet upwards through other layers of solid rock into a layer with water.

Most of the cases of flammable gas getting into water in more recent times have either been coincidental (someones well passed through layers of rock that contain gasses and it's released directly into his own well) or a rare couple of events where the surveyors missed a geological fault (which can allow the gas to escape through the fault across multiple layers of rock instead of just up through the well itself). When 100 people in an area all have wells that draw from the same water table and just one guy has water that lights on fire, it's far more likely to be his own well leaking gas from a layer it passes through than that a leak occurred in the oil well line itself into the water table and just magically avoided getting into any other wells but that one guy. If gas permeates into a water layer, it'll tend to permeate through the whole layer for quite some distance around. While concentrations will differ, you shouldn't see the dramatic (guy over here's water lights on fire, while guy a quarter mile away has water that's just fine) differences. But the documentaries on these sorts of things only show you the one guy who has a problem, and not the other people who don't.


This is made more dramatic and misleading by the fact that the same sort of geography that lends itself to having facturable oil/gas deposits deep in the ground may also have other smaller deposits closer to the surface which may release gas as well if someone happens to dig their own well through them. In the case of the gasland documentary the guy shown having flammable water coming out of his tap appears to have suffered this problem. His well went through a couple coal layers, which was releasing gas (but amusingly not the same kind of gas at all, which would be the first clue if anyone had bothered to do a test other than "light a match"). There's no evidence that his water problems had anything to do with the fracking in the area. As I said. It's coincidence. Such things are rare, but also happen in areas where no fracking has ever occurred, another fact which those documentaries tend to leave out.

Again, that's not to say that there haven't been cases of problems, but they are rare and the issue is largely (massively I'd say) overblown by popular media.

Edited, Jan 24th 2013 8:02pm by gbaji
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#16 Jan 24 2013 at 10:09 PM Rating: Excellent
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It's coincidence when before they start fracking the water is fine, and after it blows up houses?

That's a hell of a coincidence.
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#17 Jan 25 2013 at 2:47 AM Rating: Excellent
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If there is a way to frack rock without it putting toxic chemicals into topsoil and water that is used by people and other ecosystem lifeforms, then I have no problems with it. Biofuel reactors whose charcoal residue is buried in farmland or elsewhere will draw down the CO2 back from the air and into the soil for a minimum of 9000 years.
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#18 Jan 25 2013 at 9:01 AM Rating: Decent
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This is getting fracking stupid.
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#19 Jan 25 2013 at 9:19 AM Rating: Excellent
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frack U
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#20 Jan 25 2013 at 9:37 AM Rating: Good
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Kakar wrote:
Guenny wrote:
Let's not forget about koalas. Hideous, disgusting koalas.


That was my reference to slow moving bears. Bit of a stretch, I'll admit.

I one koala hair is damaged in the recovery of oil this world will be damned.
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#21 Jan 25 2013 at 9:38 AM Rating: Good
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Elinda wrote:
I one koala hair is damaged in the recovery of oil this world will be damned.


Smiley: confused
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#22 Jan 25 2013 at 9:39 AM Rating: Excellent
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For those that what a deeper explanation of what fracking is watch the following.

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#23 Jan 25 2013 at 9:41 AM Rating: Decent
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It's coincidence when before they start fracking the water is fine, and after it blows up houses?

No, but it's a myth. Places with a lot of methane deep underground tend to also be places with a lot of methane in more shallow ground. So there's frequently a correlation between where wells are and where there's flaming water. The problem is, the water was very likely flammable prior to any drilling activity taking place.

There are a lot of issues with hydraulic fracturing, but in efforts to publicize them, the debate really has gone over the line to crazytown along the lines of "genetically modified food is bad because....we you know, don't play god!"
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#24 Jan 25 2013 at 3:27 PM Rating: Good
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I like that there is a place called Coober pedy
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#25 Jan 25 2013 at 5:37 PM Rating: Excellent
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Shaowstrike the Shady wrote:
Elinda wrote:
I one koala hair is damaged in the recovery of oil this world will be damned.


Smiley: confused

I think the first word was supposed to be "If".
#26 Jan 25 2013 at 6:10 PM Rating: Default
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Kakar wrote:
It's coincidence when before they start fracking the water is fine, and after it blows up houses?

That's a hell of a coincidence.


As Smash said, it's only seems so because you are falsely lead to believe that one thing occurred around the same time as another (much less as a result of the other). The documentary doesn't lie to you. They show you a guy with flaming water. They just don't mention that this guy has had problems with flaming water from that well for 10 years, or that his other 5 wells on his land, all drawing from the same water source are fine, but this one well he had dug 3 months ago has gas concentrations in it. Can't be that his well went through a deposit, right? It *must* be that fracking operation that's been going on 5 miles away for the last 3 years.
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