Fracking In Los Angeles: First Ever Comprehensive Environmental Monitoring of Two High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Jobs
by Dr. Dan Tormey, Cardno ENTRIX
The well completion process of high volume hydraulic fracturing has become a touchstone for opposition to development of oil and gas resources from the shale and coal seam source rocks. In the United States, the process has displaced global climate change as the most controversial environmental policy issue. The concerns have so far been based on few peer-reviewed, quantitative studies, and more on information in films and other media sources, such as Gasland. This study presents the first-ever peer-reviewed study that quantifies the effects of high-volume hydraulic fracturing to 14 different environmental resource categories. The hydraulic fracturing occurred in the center of urban Los Angeles, California.
The Monterey Shale, a productive shale oil play underlying Southern California, is a current exploration target that would require the use of high-volume hydraulic fracturing to make the deposit economic. Initial efforts to use the technique have led to protests and calls for an outright ban. We conducted a peer-reviewed, comprehensive study of the physical and environmental effects of two specific hydraulic fracturing jobs at an existing oil and gas field in the center of Los Angeles. The objective was to provide factual information supported by a high quality dataset to the policy making. None of the measurements detected a change due to hydraulic fracturing, including microseismic effects, ground motion and induced seismicity, water quality, methane migration, community health, well integrity, fracture containment to the target zone, and others.
Dr. Tormey is an expert in water and energy. He conducts projects in sediment transport, hydrology, water supply, water quality, and groundwater-surfacewater interaction. He also works with the environmental aspects of all types of energy and energy development. In addition to being the Independent Expert conducting this Hydraulic Fracturing Study, he has also led efforts at comprehensive produced water management planning including beneficial reuse, characterization of chemical packages used in hydraulic fracturing, and land use planning issues associated with new and expanded oil and gas production. Dr. Tormey actively pursues volcanology research around the world, with a focus on interactions between geophysical variables that affect risk assessment, risk preparedness, and contingency planning.