Study finds no fracing problems in Inglewood oil field

A comprehensive study of Plains Exploration & Production Co.’s Inglewood oil field in southern California’s Los Angeles basin found no adverse effects from two hydraulically fractured test wells.

Emphasizing that every basin has unique characteristics and concerns, Daniel R. Tormey, who led the study by Cardno ENTRIX of Los Angeles for Plains E&P and the Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning, said, “I believe this is the first study to comprehensively look at the effects of fracing.”

The peer-reviewed October 2012 study quantified 14 different categories of physical and environmental effects of two specific frac jobs at the existing oil and gas field in Los Angeles County’s Baldwin Hills area, Tormey said at a Sept. 12 Washington, DC, briefing.

The wells were vertically drilled, but used higher water pressures common in modern frac jobs, he noted during the briefing cosponsored by the American Petroleum Institute and the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy.

Tormey and his study partners, Megan Schwartz and Molly Middaugh, found unique conditions in their study area that might not necessarily apply elsewhere. “When you take a close look, the LA basin pops out as the exact opposite of rural Pennsylvania, where so many people have their own private water wells,” he explained. “Two thirds of the water used in the LA basin comes from the Colorado River or the Sierra Mountains in northern California.”

They still had to measure drinking water because of concerns residents raised after seeing a homeowner set fire to water from an indoor tap in the documentary movie “Gasland,” Tormey said. “Facts have a longer row to hoe than fear,” he observed.

Not a source

Groundwater beneath the 1,000-acre Inglewood oil field, which Standard Oil discovered in 1924 and Plains E&P has operated since December 2002, is not a drinking water source but must meet that standard, according to the study.

“Routine tests by the water purveyor show the community’s water supply meets drinking water standards, including the period of high-rate gravel packs and conventional hydraulic fracturing as well as the first high-volume hydraulic fracture in September 2011,” it said. Tormey said about 20 groundwater monitoring wells there have been taking measurements from various depths for about four years.

“Apart from arsenic, which is naturally high [in LA basin groundwater], the analyzed constituents meet drinking water standards,” the study said. “Before-and-after monitoring of groundwater quality in monitor wells did not show impacts from high-volume hydraulic fracturing and high-rate gravel packing.”

To study ground movement and seismicity, Tormey and his associates did microseismic and vibration monitoring and used data from a nearby California Institute of Technology accelerometer. “The microseismic intensity was not sufficient to induce seismicity,” he said. “Where it occurred, it was linked to produced water injection.”

Tests conducted before, during, and after fracing and high-rate gravel packing showed no effects on the wells’ steel and cement casings, the study said. Plains E&P has an ongoing well integrity test program under way at the field, it added.

Methane findings

“Methane analyzed in soil gas and groundwater, as well as carbon and hydrogen isotopic rations in methane at the field, did not show levels of concern,” the study continued. “There was no indication of impacts from high-volume [fracing] or high-rate gravel packing.”

The study also found no problems with induced earthquakes, noise and vibration, air emissions, or community health. But Tormey warned that similar conclusions should not necessarily be expected elsewhere. “This was a precise study at a specific formation,” he noted. “When we move further away from it, some findings no longer apply. But more studies of this type will reveal some commonalities which will be useful.”

Tormey said the study was successful because the researchers began by asking people in the area what they wanted to know and listened to their concerns. “Some of the questions took us in directions we felt were unnecessary,” he said. “But responding to them turned a meeting we expected to be volatile into one that was much more civil. The way in which this study was conducted worked out well.”

Asked following Tormey’s presentation whether the study could be a model for others in places where unconventional oil and gas production are bringing activity to areas where it hasn’t been before, Erik Milito, API’s upstream operations director, agreed that it would depend on what residents want to know.

“Other companies in the industry are participating in studies already,” he told OGJ. “The goal will continue to be producing factual information to help state and local leaders make the best decisions for their citizens.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

Petrobras confirms extent of Farfan area discovery, finds reservoir

02/02/2015 The drilling of a third extension well in the Farfan area in the ultradeepwater Sergipe basin confirmed the extent of the 2013 light oil and gas di...

Antero trimming, delaying Marcellus drilling

02/02/2015 Antero Resources Corp., Denver, has announced a $1.8 billion budget for 2015, which is down 41% from 2014. The independent said it plans to defer c...

Fluid typing extends production in Chinese gas reservoir

02/02/2015 Comprehensive evaluation and classified recognition (CECR) of fluid typing and zonation (FTZ) is a prerequisite for developing multilayer sandstone...

Santos acquires interest in block offshore Malaysia

02/02/2015 Santos Ltd. has acquired 20% interest in a deepwater permit offshore Sabah, Malaysia. The company will take 10% from each of Japan’s Inpex and oper...

Mud volcanoes show gas hydrates potential in India's Andaman Islands

02/02/2015 Minutes after the M9.0 Sumatra-Andaman earthquake in 2004, mud volcanoes erupted on Diglipur Island in North Andaman. The eruptions resulted in an ...

OGJ Newsletter

02/02/2015

International news for oil and gas professionals

The ANWR blitz

02/02/2015 Deception begins with a 58-sec video on the White House web site in which President Barack Obama says he'll ask Congress to make the whole Arctic N...

BHP to drill first deepwater well off Trinidad in 2016, energy minister says

01/30/2015 BHP Billiton and its partner BP PLC will drill their first well in Trinidad and Tobago’s deep water in 2016 according to the Caribbean twin-island ...

Pennsylvania governor reinstates state forest drilling moratorium

01/29/2015 Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed an executive order fully reinstating a 2010 moratorium on new oil and gas leases in state forests and parks. ...
White Papers

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by

The impact of aging infrastructure in process manufacturing industries

Process manufacturing companies in the oil and gas, utilities, chemicals and natural resource industri...
Sponsored by

What is System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis?

This paper will explain some of the fundamentals of System Level Thermo-Fluid Analysis and demonstrate...
Available Webcasts


Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

When Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

When Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Prevention, Detection and Mitigation of pipeline leaks in the modern world

Thu, Apr 30, 2015

Preventing, detecting and mitigating leaks or commodity releases from pipelines are a top priority for all pipeline companies. This presentation will look at various aspects related to preventing, detecting and mitigating pipeline commodity releases from a generic and conceptual point of view, while at the same time look at the variety of offerings available from Schneider Electric to meet some of the requirements associated with pipeline integrity management. 

register:WEBCAST


Global LNG: Adjusting to New Realities

Fri, Mar 20, 2015

Oil & Gas Journal’s March 20, 2015, webcast will look at how global LNG trade will be affected over the next 12-24 months by falling crude oil prices and changing patterns and pressures of demand. Will US LNG production play a role in balancing markets? Or will it add to a growing global oversupply of LNG for markets remote from easier natural gas supply? Will new buyers with marginal credit, smaller requirements, or great need for flexibility begin to look attractive to suppliers? How will high-cost, mega-projects in Australia respond to new construction cost trends?

register:WEBCAST


Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected