DAVID HOLT/Wikimedia Commons

United Kingdom Set to Abandon Fracking

If recent rumors are to be believed, a years-long campaign to establish fracking in the United Kingdom will soon come to a grinding halt. Minor tremors at a long-embattled Lancashire drilling site may have put the final nail in the UK fracking coffin. Relentless protests and unceasing anti-fracking sentiment in the nation’s media have turned the tide of public opinion against fracking in the United Kingdom.

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Iceberg in the Arctic, AWeith/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

The Arctic 8 and the New Cold War

For most of recorded history, the Arctic has been classified as no man’s land, a sprawling, icy desert inhabited only by creatures built explicitly for the task. In recent decades, however, cutting edge technology and drastic updates in transportation have turned the Arctic from an alien landscape into a potentially viable source of ever-important oil and gas. 

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Tony Webster/flickr.com

COGA Rises to the Top

It’s a time of great flux in Colorado.

First-year governor Jared Polis has taken it upon himself to turn the state’s in-house energy proponent, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), into a body focused on regulation, not support of the state’s oil and gas industry. In the vacuum created by the COGCC’s forced transformation, however, another group has stepped forward to assume the role of energy-industry champion.

Perhaps Governor Jared Polis thought he was ridding himself of opposition when he gutted the COGCC, but he didn’t count on the folks at the Colorado Oil and Gas Organization (COGA) picking up the fight.

A Friend Among Tradespeople

Since they were founded in 1984, the people of COGA have pursued the environmentally-responsible development of Colorado’s oil and gas reserves with quiet determination. While the COGCC gave quotes to the press, COGA stuck to trade professionals, accruing a membership of hundreds of companies filled with like-minded employees.

The guiding philosophy behind COGA was (and still is) the quiet support of the thousands of men and women supported by the state’s oil and gas industry. That work was made more complicated in the wake of the drastic changes overtaking the COGCC.

Marching Forward in a New Colorado

At COGA’s recent Energy Summit, Haley invited Governor Polis to speak at a forum entitled, “Can You Still Drill for Oil in a Blue State?” It’s a pressing question in a state where oil and gas employees are in fear for their economic well-being. Though he accepted the invitation and showed up to the event, Polis still dismissed the entire topic of the conversation as “silly.”

Over the next hour, Haley tried calmly to explain COGA’s concern for the state’s energy future, even as the governor repeatedly scoffed at those fears.

Taking the Reigns

Throughout 2019, CEO and president of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Dan Haley, has become a fixture in the headlines. In just a few short months, he’s gone from the head of a benevolent trade organization to the de facto voice of Colorado’s oil and gas industry and, by extension, thousands of people who work in oil and gas each day.

When Adams County enacted new regulations in the last week, it was COGA and Dan Haley who stepped forward to call out the harsh rules for what they were: a ban on oil and gas development.

It was just the latest of a growing number of moments when a COGA rep has stepped up to speak out for the people on the ground in Colorado.

Tioga County, New York - Douglas Camin / Wikimedia Commons

What Is Gel Fracking?

In Binghamton, a group of irate anti-fracking protestors has voiced concern over gel fracking, an alternative to hydro-fracking that experts call a greener approach to energy extraction. 

What Is Gel Fracking?

In traditional hydraulic fracturing (commonly shortened to “fracking” to make it sound nastier), a jet of water is shot down a well under extreme pressure. The highly-pressurized water slams into rock deep in the Earth, breaking it up and releasing oil and gas.

Invented in 2008 by a company called GasFrac, gel fracking works in much the same way as traditional fracking, but with one big difference. In gel fracking, propane gel replaces water.

Utilizing a combination of propane gel (which already occurs naturally in the Earth) along with other non-toxic chemicals in place of water, gel fracking produces the same result as the alternative, just without the use of fresh water required in typical fracking. 

Shortly after gel fracking began trials, one consultant explained, “The main advantage of the gelled propane is that once the gel is broken the propane flashes and mixes with the gas. Since the propane becomes part of the reservoir flow, the generated fracture is completely cleaned up … In addition, a water-based fracture has an efficiency of around 20 percent, while propane has 100 percent efficiency.”

The applications of this method have exciting implications for the future of oil and gas extraction.

The Situation in New York

Unfortunately, a group of anti-energy protestors in New York doesn’t see it that way. The state has maintained a very public ban on fracking since 2017; the legislation, however, doesn’t strictly prohibit gel fracking. As a result, a group of local landowners in Tioga County want to put the green fracking alternative into action.

In their submission to the state, the newly formed Tioga Energy Partners explained, “Waterless hydraulic fracturing was first performed in Canada in 2008 and since then has been used to successfully treat more than 2,600 zones at over 800 sites in North America.”

That record of excellence isn’t good enough, however, for a band of protestors opposed to the project. The anti-energy advocates argue that the state should implement a moratorium on gel fracking until a lengthy environmental study can be conducted.

The Future of Fracking

Perhaps the biggest mistake gel fracking ever made was simply relating itself to “fracking” at all. Although oil and gas continuously innovate fracking to make it more environmentally friendly, the term itself has become venomous. 

Does it matter that gel fracking uses no water at all, or that it works at an astonishing 100 percent efficiency? Does it matter that gel fracking has operated without major incident for 11 years? It doesn’t seem to.