The natural gas industry is technologically capable
of tapping shale gas resources, but some companies may have trouble managing
the environmental and social risks involved, according to a report by the
Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute.
Discovering Shale Gas: An Investor Guide to Hydraulic
Fracturing said these risks could impede profitable extraction. It
also said that companies need to start replacing anecdotal attempts at
transparency with more consistent, comprehensive data from across their
The industry is facing three critical issues, the
IRRC Institute said.
First, fracking a horizontal shale well requires
between one and 8 million gallons of water and thousands more gallons of
chemicals than a conventional vertical gas well. These volumes create a host of
issues companies must address, the report said.
Secondly, thousands of shale gas wells may be
drilled within a few years in some states. If contamination problems occur at
only a small percentage, numerous communities could be negatively affected, the
IRRC Institute said.
Finally, as development spreads to new areas,
regulators and communities new to natural gas development are proving less
tolerant of associated impacts than communities where gas production has
occurred historically. Even if environmental concerns can be addressed, some
communities may oppose industrialization of their surroundings, the report
But the institute said it is unclear if the industry
has the will, short-term economic incentives or regulatory oversight to avoid
environmental and social impacts that could lead to continued controversy and
additional restrictions on drilling. An industry-wide commitment to
transparency and best practices rather than mere regulatory compliance is
essential, according to the IRRC.
In February, Ecologix Environmental Systems, an
Atlanta-based wastewater treatment company specializing in the oil and gas
a mobile integrated treatment system for hydraulic fracturing that
allows the re-use of water for future drilling. The system can treat up to 900
gallons per minute of frac flowback water.
9 March, 2012.