How to Gather and Analyze Useful Frack Data

Jack Tuschall, Ph.D.
TestAmerica Laboratories

Key Points

Wise use of analytical $ to get right balance of tests – type and frequency Designing a monitoring program to anticipate emerging environmental regulations Ensuring environmental data passes scrutiny

Legally defensible reports – composition and key attributes

Peter Sandman

What are the Common Environmental Hazards?

Exposure of workers and public to harmful airborne materials Contamination of Drinking Water sources Disposal or discharge of waste flowback water Contamination of surface waters

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Impact on Fish and Wildlife

What Sources to Monitor?

Matrices to Evaluate:

Drinking Water  Surface waters  Drilling Spoils  Flowback and Production Waters  Ambient and Source Air Emissions  Frack Fluids – including consideration of hazardous components Characterize site before and after drilling activities occur even if Regulations Don’t Require it

What Parameters to Monitor?

Select analyses that reflect the composition of fluids used:  e.g., Anions (Cl, Br, Sulfate), metals, surfactants, biocides, and light petroleum hydrocarbons. and Character of Geological Formation Fracked.  e.g., Naturally Occurring Radiological Materials (NORM), metals (Ba, Mg, B), dissolved gases (methane), petroleum oils.

Examples of Hazardous Components of Frack Fluids
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HCl Boric Oxides Boric Acid Sulfuric acid Various alcohols Glycol Ethers Gluteraldehyde Acetic Anhydride Mineral Spirits

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Light Petroleum distillates Methanol Various proprietary components

Baseline Methane Sampling Prior to Drilling – 4000 ft Radius
Baseline Methane Sampling - 4000 ft2 Radius from Well Pad XXXXX 30 25
MG/L Methane

20 15 10 5

MG/L Methane


Well Sample ID

Baseline Methane Sampling Prior to Drilling – 4000 ft Radius

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Blue: No Detection Green: < 3 mg/L Yellow: 3-25 mg/L Red: > 25 mg/L

Why Not Just Focus on Meeting Regulations?

Federal and State Regulations still emerging Future Regulations uncertain – will depend on several factors –
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geography public perceptions and pressure demographics political climate economics

Field Samples –> Analysis –> Final Report

Requirements for Laboratory Support

Experience with unusual samples (high salt brine 10x higher than seawater) Track record with similar samples Able to produce rapid results when necessary Quality control samples to defend data

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Legally Defensible Data Reports

Components of Quality Program

Quality Program – should be designed to ensure laboratory data conforms to standards set by state and federal regulations. Implemented through SOPs. Quality Control: specific components of analytical process that collectively ensures tests conform to set standard limits.
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e.g., Blanks, LCS, MS/MSD, calibration verification, MDL verification. Control Limits for each QC item – report outcome on client reports for transparency.

Data Deliverables

Data reports may be reviewed by several groups
Internally and by your firm’s consultants  Regulators  Community groups  Industry watchdogs  Legal Counsel if lawsuits involved

Most will be looking for flaws in data

Key Components of Environmental Data

Accurate and reliable measurements

Reproducible data; reporting limits supported by blanks; anion/cation balance.

Report format that is legally defensible and able to withstand diverse scrutiny.

Include calibration data and QC results in stand-alone data package that holds up in court. Quality control samples within defined limits.

Solid technical responses to inquiries after delivery.

A solid Analytical Strategy, designed specifically to address the potential environmental impact to local surroundings, will reduce the risk of drilling.

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