Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Natural Gas Plays in the Marcellus Shale

Natural Gas Plays in the Marcellus Shale

Ratings: (0)|Views: 7 |Likes:
Published by SJLibrary
Challenges and Potential Opportunities
Challenges and Potential Opportunities

More info:

Published by: SJLibrary on Jul 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

01/21/2014

pdf

text

original

 
Natural Gas Plays in the MarcellusShale: Challenges and PotentialOpportunities
D A V I D M . K A R G B O *
U.S. EPA Region III, Office of Innovation, Environmental  Assessment & Innovation Division 
R O N G . W I L H E L M
U.S. EPA Office of Radiation and Indoor Air 
D A V I D J . C A M P B E L L
U.S. EPA Region III, Office of Innovation, Environmental  Assessment & Innovation Division 
Tapping the lucrative Marcellus Shale natural gas depositsmay have a host of environmental concerns.
Figure 1 features locations of shale basins across the U.S.that bear natural gas. There are many reasons to pursuethedevelopmentofnaturalgas.First,thesupplyofnaturalgas in the U.S. is very reliable, and the delivery system isless subject to interruption compared to imported fossilfuel.Second,thehighenergycontentofnaturalgas(about30kJ/m
3
[1000Btu/ft
3
])andawell-developedinfrastructuremakeiteasytousenaturalgasinanumberofapplications.Finally,naturalgasisefficientandcleanburning,emitting approximately half the CO
2
when compared with burning coalalongwithlowerlevelsofsulfurdioxide(SOx),nitrogenoxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), and mercury (Hg).In the trend toward a sustainable green economy, thispotentially vast energy resource, with lower carbon emis-sions than coal or oil, is already a bridge fuel as the U.S.develops more sustainable and renewable fuel options.The U.S. has abundant natural gas resources within theBarnett Shale, Haynesville/Bossier Shale, Antrim Shale,Fayetteville Shale, New Albany Shale, and Marcellus Shale.Technicallyrecoverablenaturalgasfromtheseshalesismorethan 1,744 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) (50 km
3
), which includes211Tcfofprovenreserves(
1
).Attheannualproductionrateof about 19.3 Tcf, there is enough natural gas to supply theU.S.forthenext90yearswithsomeestimatesextendingthesupply to 116 years. The total number of natural gas andcondensate wells in the U.S. rose 5.7% in 2008 to a record478,562withsomeoftheproducednaturalgaslostviaflaring (
). However, available data on flaring of natural gas isincomplete and inconsistent.This article is focused on the Marcellus Shale because itis the most expansive shale gas in play in the U.S. TheMarcellus Shale, which is Devonian age (416
-
359.2 My),belongs to a group of black, organic-rich shales that arecommon constituents of sedimentary deposits. In shaledeposition, the clay-sized grains tend to lie flat as thesediments accumulate. Pressurized compaction results inflatsheet-likedepositswiththinlaminarbeddingthatlithifiesinto thinly layered shale rock. Natural gas is formed as theorganic materials in these deposits degrade anaerobically.TheMarcellusShalegasismostlythermogenic,withenoughheat and pressure to produce primarily dry natural gas.Covering an area of 240,000 km
2
(95,000 mi
2
), it underlies alargeportionofPennsylvania,eastofWestVirginia,andpartsof New York, Ohio, and Maryland (Figure 1). Recent produc-tion data suggest that recoverable reserves from MarcellusShale could be as large as 489 Tcf (
3,
).Natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale is currently anexpensiveendeavor.Atypicalhorizontaldrilledwell,using multistagefracturingtechniques,costsroughly$3
-
5millionto complete. The large amount of water used, and manage-ment of the wastewater are also very costly factors. Never-theless, Marcellus Shale extraction is expected to usher jobscreationandothereconomicopportunities.Alargedemandfor laborers at the gas fields and support businesses, suchas drilling contractors, hydraulic fracturing companies, and
        D        O        E
FIGURE 1. Shale basins in the lower 48 states.
        U        S        G        S
Environ. Sci. Technol.
2010,
44,
5679–5684
10.1021/es903811p Not subject to U.S. Copyright. Publ. 2010 Am. Chem. Soc. VOL. 44, NO. 15, 2010 / ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOG
9
5679
Published on Web 06/02/2010
 
truckingcompaniesisalsoexpected.InPennsylvaniaalone,2008 estimates show the creation of more than 29,000 jobsand revenues of $2.3 billion (
). Tax revenues for state andlocal governments, generated from indirect business taxes,including excise taxes, property taxes, and sales taxesincreased by more than $238 million from the previous year(
). There are new marketing opportunities for businesses with innovative wastewater treatment technologies. Many land owners are expected to benefit financially. Thousandsofleaseshavebeensignedwithpricesrangingfromhundredsofdollarsto$5,000/acre($2024/ha),paying12
-
20%royalties,and offering hopes of economic prosperity (
). Somecompanies however, only pay royalties on their net, afterexpenses.There are numerous regulatory challenges related to gasextractionfromtheMarcellusShale.TheSafeDrinkingWater Act excludes the regulation of hydraulic fracturing by theU.S.EnvironmentalProtectionAgency(EPA).Thisexemptionhas allowed the hydrofracture fluid formulas to be keptconfidential, complicating treatment efforts by wastewaterplants of hydrofracture fluids.This article is focused on the technical challenges andpotential opportunities related to natural gas production inthe Marcellus Shale region. The authors firmly believe thatunderstanding these challenges and opportunities is key todeveloping effective policies, adequately reviewing thethousands of current and future permit applications, andcosteffectivelyproducingnaturalgasinanenvironmentallsound manner.
Challenges
Throughout most of its spatial extent, the Marcellus Shaleisnearlya1.6km(1mi)ormorebelowthesurface(
1
).Naturalgas generated is captured mainly within pores of the shale.The pore spaces are tiny, very poorly connected, and haveverylimitedpermeabilityontheorderof10
-
2
-
10
-
5
mdarcies(1darcy 
)
0.987
×
10
-
12
m
2
).Sustainableandenvironmentally sound production of natural gas from Marcellus Shalerequires overcoming challenges related to exploration anddrilling, water resources, hydraulic fracturing, wastewatermanagement, and radioactivity.
ExplorationandDrilling.
Seismicsurveyshavebeenusedtoproduce3-Dimagesofthesubsurface(Figure2)including images of very productive natural shale gas reservoirs. Theresults of the seismic survey are used to identify a suitabledrill site.Followingthedecisiontodrill,awellpadisprepared,thearea for the well is leveled off, gravel roads are constructed,andpipelinesinstalled.Theprotectionofsensitiveecosystemsor habitat for flora and fauna that may be destroyed during sitepreparationisamajorchallenge.Generally,asthecolumnofdrillpipeextendsdeeperintotheearth,drillingchallengesincluding time and their associated costs increase. Inaddition,theincreaseinrockhardnessandabrasivenesswithdepthleadstoadecreaseinrateofpenetrationwithresulting shorter drill bit life. The control of well bore trajectory andplacementofcasingbecomeincreasinglydifficultwithdepth,asdoestheefficientremovalofdrillcuttings.AttheMarcellusShale, temperatures of 35
-
51
°
C (120
-
150
°
F) can beencounteredatdepthandformationfluidpressurescanreach410 bar (6000 psi) (
). This can accelerate the impact of saturatedbrinesandacidgasesondrillingatgreaterdepths.Inaddition,theeffectofhighertemperatureoncementsetting behavior, poor mud displacement and lost circulation withdepthmakescementingthedeepexplorationandproduction wells in the Marcellus Shale quite challenging. For examplefollowing a recent report by residents of Dimock, PA, of natural gas in their water supplies, inspectors from thePennsylvaniaDepartmentofEnvironmentProtection(PADEP)discoveredthatthecasingsonsomegaswellsdrilledbyCabotOil & Gas were improperly cemented, potentially allowing contamination to occur (
). As much as 50% of the totaldrillingcostisconsumedbydrillingthelast10%ofthehole.To penetrate a maximum number of vertical rock fracturesand a maximum distance of gas-bearing pore spaces, theverticalwellisdeviatedhorizontally.Graphicrepresentationof a horizontal well completion is provided as SupportinInformation (SI). During drilling into the tight MarcellusShale,thereisaslightriskofhittingpermeablegasreservoirsat all levels. This may cause shallow gas blowouts andundergroundblowoutsbetweensubsurfaceintervals.Othergeo-hazards that may pose challenges to drillers in theMarcellus Shale include: (1) disruption and alteration of subsurfacehydrologicalconditionsincludingthedisturbanceand destruction of aquifers, (2) severe ground subsidencebecauseofextraction,drilling,andunexpectedsubterraneanconditions, and (3) triggering of small scale earthquakes.Theenvironmentallysoundmanagementofdrillingmudand drill cuttings may pose some challenges as well. Drillcuttings are typically comprised of shale, sand, and claysthatareoftencoatedwith,orcontain,residualcontaminantsfrom the drilling mud or from the borehole. At the surface,thedrillcuttingsareseparatedfromthedrillingmud,whichis stored for reuse, while the drill cuttings are solidified anddisposed of off-site (
10 
).
Hydraulic Fracturing.
Once drilling and casing arecompleted,aperforationgunshootsholesthroughthecasing and cement at predetermined locations. To generate ahydraulic fracture, the applied pressure must exceed therock’stensilestrengthandanyadditionaltectonicforcesthatmaybepresent.Hydraulicfracturingiscommonlyperformedinstageswhereoperators(1)perforatethecasingandcement,(2)pumpwater-basedfracturingfluids(hydrofracturefluids)throughtheperforationclusters,(3)setaplug,and(4)moveup the wellbore. This process is then repeated at eachfracturinglocation,ofwhichtheremaybeupto15inagiven well. The result is a highly fractured reservoir that is 984 m(3000 ft) or more long in each direction from the wellbore.Fracturing materials include a proppant to keep fracturesfrom closing completely after the hydrofracturing pressureisreleasedandtheeffectivegeostaticpressureatthislocationreturns.Inaddition,afluidthatinitiatesandpropagatesthefracturebytransmittinghydraulicpressuretotheformationand transporting the proppant into the created fracture isintroducedintothetargetformation.Althoughnonaqueoussystems have been used, water-based fracturing fluids arethe most common. Quartz sand or ceramic material areusually the least expensive proppants. Gels are added toincrease the hydrofracture fluid viscosity and reduce fluidloss from the fracture. Additional additives may include thefollowing: acids to remove drilling mud near the wellbore,
        U        S        G        S
FIGURE 2. 3-D geologic and seismic velocity model of the SanFrancisco Bay Region showing subsurface features (
).
5680
9
ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY / VOL. 44, NO. 15, 2010
 
biocidestopreventmicrobialgrowththatproducegases(e.g.,H
2
S) that may contaminate the methane gas (CH
4
), scaleinhibitors to control the precipitation of carbonates andsulfates, and surfactants to increase the recovery of injectedfluidintothewellbyreducingtheinterfacialtensionbetweenthe fluid and formation materials (
11
). After completion of the hydraulic fracturing process, theviscosityofthehydrofracturefluidsisexpectedtobreakdownquickly,sothefluidscanbeeasilyremovedfromthegroundandthegasextracted.Itdoesnotalwaysworkthatway.Gelssometimes do not completely break, and there is always aresidue in the flow back water following partial gel decom-position. Sometimes the nature of the reservoir is such thatthefracturingliquidscanbecometrapped,remaininginthereservoir and impeding the flow of the gas. As much as 80%of injected fluids may not be recovered prior to placing the well in production. In addition, not all proppants make it tothe fractures. The proppants that pushed into the fracturescan quickly settle out of the water, allowing much of thefractures to close after the hydrofracturing pressure isreleased. A challenge is to develop environmentally friendly fluidsthatsuspendtheproppantforverylongtimes.Perhapsthe most difficult challenge in hydraulic fracturing is tocomplete the greatest number of fracturing stages aseconomically as possible. This is currently an active area of shale gas research.Largehydrofracturetreatmentsoftenrequiremovinglargeamountsofsupplies,equipment,andvehiclestoremotedrillsites. This could potentially lead to erosion and sedimentoverload that could threaten local small watersheds. Thereis also the risk of spills and leaks.
 WaterResources.
Drillingrequireslargeamountsofwaterto create a circulating mud that cools the bit and carries therock cutting out of the borehole. Depending on the depthand permeability of the formation, from 7.7
-
38 ML (2
-
10milliongal)ofwater,mixedwithvariousadditives,isrequiredtocompletethefracturingofeachhorizontaldeepwell(
12 
).Becauseofhugetransportationcostsoftruckingwaterfromgreat distances, drillers usually extract on-site water fromnearby streams or underground water supplies. Concernsabout the ecological impacts to aquatic resources resulting from huge water withdrawals have been raised throughouttheMarcellusShaleregion.Thisisparticularlyanissueunderdroughtconditions,lowseasonalflow,locationswithalready stressed water supplies, or locations with waters that havesensitive aquatic communities that depend on clean, cool waters. For example, about 36% (12,639 km
2
((4937 mi
2
)) of the Delaware River Basin (DRB), which is home to 5 millionpeople,areheadwatersandunderlainbytheMarcellusShale. Water withdrawal for hydraulic fracturing is a major waterresources concern in the DRB.
Health and Environmental.
The chemical formulationsof the hydrofracture fluid are highly researched and closely guarded. The fluid is usually in close contact with the hostrock during the course of the hydrofracture process. It isthereforeexpectedtocontainbothformationchemicalsandintroduced chemicals. Formation chemicals may includetoxicmetals,salts,andradionuclides.Introducedchemicalsin the hydrofracturing fluid may include a variety of toxicand nontoxic chemicals. For example, some fluids may containhydrochloricormuriaticacid,hydroxyethylcelluloseas gel, glutaraldehyde as biocide, petroleum distillate (ordiesel) as friction reducer, ammonium bisulfate as oxygenscavenger,2-hydroxy-1,2,3-propanetricaboxylicacidforironcontrol,
,
-dimethyl formamide as corrosion inhibitor,ethylene glycol (or 2-butoxyethanol) as scale inhibitor, andmethanol-based surfactants (
11
). Fluorocarbons, naphtha-lene,butanol,andformaldehydehavealsobeenreportedtobepresentintheintroducedfluids.Manyofthesechemicalsare either carcinogenic or associated with numerous healthproblemsaffectingtheeyes,skin,lungs,intestines,liver,brain,and nervous system. In New York, records show thatformaldehyde, pesticides, acids, and numerous other haz-ardous materials are added to the hydrofracture fluids (
13 
).In a recent article published in InsideEPA.com (
14 
), resultsof water well sampling in Pavillion, WY, showed natural gasdrilling-related chemicals in several of the wells tested.Management of the hydrofracture wastewater variesfrom state to state. Open pits for storage of freshwater and wastewater and for evaporation of the wastewater arecommon. The solids that remain following evaporationare disposed of as dry waste. (See SI for additionaldiscusion.) One common disposal method required by some states is processing the wastewater in wastewatertreatment plants (WWTP). A significant challenge to thismethod is the observation that contaminants and totaldissolved solids (TDS) in the water may complicate wastewater treatment (
15 
). For example, the discharge of inadequately treated natural gas drilling wastewater withhighTDSandotherchemicalswassuspectedtobeasourcefor the elevated TDS in Monongahela River (
16 
). Otherpotentialsuspectedsourcesincludethepresenceofalready highTDSintheriverwhenthewaterenteredPennsylvaniafrom West Virginia, low water conditions that could leadto a high concentration of the TDS, TDS from abandonedmine drainage, and high TDS wastewater from all kindsofresourceextractionsbeingdeliveredtotreatmentplants.The TDS problem led the PADEP to issue a water-quality-advisory for 325,000 customers to use bottled water. Although the hydrofracture fluid systems are 90
-
95% water, the TDS in the wastewaters can rise to over 200,000mg/L, precluding many standard water treatment tech-nologies from processing and cleaning hydrofracture wastewater. The development of treatment infrastructurecurrently lags far behind the fast-paced exploration andextraction of Marcellus shale gas activities. Another challenge in drilling the Marcellus Shale is theoccurrence of potentially elevated concentrations of radi-onculides.FieldandsamplesurveysoncompositedMarcellusrock cuttings and cores indicate background levels of radioactivitythatareoflowexposureconcernforworkersorthe general public associated with Marcellus cuttings (
13 
).However, in a recent article (
17 
), New York’s Department of EnvironmentalConservation(NYDEC)reportedthatthirteensamples of wastewater from Marcellus Shale gas extractioncontained levels of radium-226 (226Ra) as high as 267 timesthe safe disposal limit and thousands of times the limit safefor people to drink. The New York Department of Health(NYDOH) analyzed three Marcellus Shale production brinesamples and found elevated gross alpha (
), gross beta (
 β
),and226Raintheproductionbrine(
18 
).Devonian-ageshalescontain naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM),such as uranium (U) and thorium (Th) and their daughterproducts, 226Ra and 228Ra (
19 
). The Marcellus Shale isconsidered to have elevated levels of NORMs (
20 
). NORMsthat have been concentrated or exposed to the accessibleenvironmentasaresultofhumanactivities,suchasmineralextraction, are defined by the EPA as technologically en-hanced NORM (TENORM) (
19 
). TENORM may be concen-trated because of (1) temperature and pressure changesduring oil and gas production, (2) 226Ra and 228Ra inproducedwatersreactingwithbariumsulfate(BaSO
4
)toforma scale in well tubulars and surface equipment, (3) 226Raand 228Ra occurring in sludge that accumulates in pits andtanks, and (4) NORM occurring as radon (Rn) gas in thenatural gas stream (
21
). Air pollution is also a major challenge. In the gas-producingareasofTexas,Wyoming,andColorado,thereleaseof CH
4
, CO
2
, and other volatile organic chemicals (VOCs)from processing plants and diesel exhaust trucks has been
VOL. 44, NO. 15, 2010 / ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 
9
5681

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->