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Thursday, July 12, 2012

DOE to conduct study on frack fluid migration in PA

Can gas drilling fluids migrate and pose a threat to drinking water?

Just days after the release of a new Duke University study on fluid migration that amplified the need for additional research on a crucial unresolved issue of shale gas exploration, a drilling company in southwestern Pennsylvania is giving researchers from the U. S. Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh access to a commercial drilling site to try to answer that question.

According to The Associated Press, the unnamed firm let scientists conduct baseline tests, allowed tracing elements to be added to hydraulic fracturing fluids and agreed to allow follow-up monitoring. That should let scientists see whether the drilling fluids move upwards or sideways from the Marcellus Shale, which is 8,100 feet deep at that spot.  Monitoring will go on for at least a year. NETL will have to explain why it chose that period of time, and not longer.  Other studies have either not quantified the time period for possible migration or modeled it over decades.  

This is an important study. The firm involved is performing an important public service by allowing the study to be conducted at its site.  

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