Study finds US production would dip under hydraulic fracturing bill

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, June 9 -- US oil and gas production would drop 20.5% over 5 years if federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing becomes law, the American Petroleum Institute said on June 9 as it released a new study.

By 2014, gas production could fall by 4.4 tcf, or 22%, and oil production by 400,000 b/d, or 8%, according to the study by IHS Global Insight, “Measuring the Economics and Energy Impacts of Proposals to Regulate Hydraulic Fracturing.”

API released the study as US Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said he would sponsor companion legislation to the bill which Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo), Maurice D. Hinchey (D-NY), and Jared Polis (D-Colo) introduced on June 9 to bring hydraulic fracturing back under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

The well completion process, which producers say is essential to produce oil from the Bakken shale and gas from the Marcellus and other US shale formations, was exempted from SDWA enforcement under the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

“Drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale across much of Pennsylvania is part of our future. I believe that we have an obligation to develop that gas responsibly to safeguard the drinking water wells used by 3 million Pennsylvanians,” Casey said.

“We already have private wells contaminated by gas and fluids used in hydraulic fracturing. We need to make sure that this doesn’t become a statewide problem over the next few decades as we extract natural gas,” he continued.

Eliminating hydraulic fracturing would be catastrophic to US oil and gas development, resulting in 79% fewer well completions and drops of 45% in US gas production and 17% in oil production by 2014, the IHS Global Insight study found, according to API.

“More than 1 million wells have been completed using this technology. Unnecessary regulation of this practice would only hurt the nation’s energy security and threaten our economy,” API Pres. Jack N. Gerard said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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