Posts Tagged ‘Professional’

by Tom Shepstone

We have done three previous posts on this blog pointing out the gargantuan flaws in Marvin Resnikoff’s work.  You can read them herehere and here.  We have noted his work is not only seriously blemished with numerous defects, but his testimony has been rejected again and again in courts of scientific research as well as law, qualifying him as the perfect “anti-expert.”  Well, it turns out the scientific community, may have had it with him, too.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has just released a report that all but him accuses him of being an eccentric crank.  Here’s how what they said in their cover letter distributing the report:

In response to concerns over human exposure to radon in natural gas supplies from the Appalachian Basin, the USGS has released a preliminary dataset providing radon-222 concentrations in natural gas samples derived from the Marcellus Shale and Upper Devonian sandstone reservoirs.  This preliminary dataset has been summarized in a short report authored by my colleagues Liz Rowan and Tom Kraemer, which can be downloaded from the USGS Publications Warehouse:

And, here’s what they say in the report itself (emphasis added):

A recent report by Resnikoff (2012) has led to increased interest in possible human exposure to radon as a component of natural gas in household settings.  The report, however, relied on theoretical calculations utilizing limited data from geologic analogs.  A decision was made to release our small and preliminary dataset because, to the authors’ knowledge, measurements of radon in natural gas at the wellhead have not previously been published for the Appalachian Basin.

This is polite agency talk for “we’re not going to let this guy keep getting away with distorting our previous work based on bunch of hokey speculations.”  Their report effectively confirms the criticisms of Resnikoff’s work by Ralph Johnson and Lynn R. Anspaugh, Ph.D, the relevant details of which have been shared here, but there’s more.

Radon is no simple subject, but both Johnson and Anspaugh have noted Resnikoff’s numbers are wildly unrealistic, starting with his most basic assumptions, which rely upon bad arithmetic and speculation to extrapolate old data into new doomsday threats of radon entering metro area homes in high concentrations.  Readers of Resnikoff’s hyperbolic report will recall he said this about radon concentrations in the Marcellus Shale (emphasis added):




Cable-free node deployed near Pecos in the Permian Basin in west Texas. Photos courtesy of FairfieldNodal

Seismic data acquisition systems dubbed cableless, wireless, cable-free, no-cable, etc. were viewed as a kind of novelty in the industry only a few years ago.

That has changed dramatically as the success stories emanating from increased numbers of field applications are being reported evermore often.

It had to happen, not just offshore but also on land in particular.

Think about seismic crew members traipsing around rugged, inhospitable terrain lugging the heavy, cumbersome cables and accompanying equipment required by cable systems, the longtime industry stalwart.

Then consider the cost and time to load and move all of this weight via helicopter – a transport frequently necessary to reach the often-inaccessible areas where data must be acquired.

There are other issues.

Besides the potential to leave an undesirable environmental footprint using cable systems, gnawing sharp-teeth varmints feast on these wires wherever possible – troubleshooting, anyone?

Even ordinary thunderstorms pose a risk.

“A lot of wire on the ground is a big problem where you have thunderstorm activity because of the static it generates into the cable,” said Darin Silvernagle, vice president of technology at SAExploration, or SAE, (nee NES LLC). “When you have 400 miles of wire laid out on the ground, static can be a big problem.”

The available cableless, i.e. nodal, land systems include the FairfieldNodal ZLand® system and its transition zone, shallow water counterpart Z700, INNOVA HAWK®, Sercel UNITE and OYO GSR, among others.

Nodal systems are designed to meet a number of industry needs:

  • More flexible acquisition geometries, e.g. wide and full azimuth for land surveys.
  • Reduced downtime and maintenance.
  • Increased productivity.
  • Improved health, safety and environment conditions (HSE).
  • Enhanced access to challenging locales.

To read more CLICK HERE

Ethics Meeting

Thursday, July 19

Oil Spills, Ethics and Society:
How they intersect and where the responsibilities reside
Dr. W.C. ‘Rusty’ Riese,
AAPG Distinguised Speaker

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp recently announced the formation of a new A&M system center to address multiple water issues in and develop solutions for Texas.

Texas AgriLife ResearchTexas AgriLife Extension ServiceTexas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and Texas A&M University–San Antonio are collaborating on the development of the Water Conservation and Technology Center, which will support high priority projects that focus on Texas’ water issues.

“The state of Texas has a rich history that has always been linked to water—rights, conservation and control. This unique agency collaboration will lead to development of more efficiency and effectiveness in managing this vital resource,” Sharp said.

Administered by the Texas Water Resources Institute (TWRI), the center will increase the System’s ability to meet existing and emerging statewide needs in water conservation and technology, according to Dr. Neal Wilkins, TWRI director.

“The center will accelerate the development and adoption of new and innovative technologies to solve emerging water problems and meet future water supply needs,” Wilkins said.

The center includes a collaborative relationship with TEES through the Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT) and will be located at the TEES South Presa campus in San Antonio.

Cindy Wall, TCAT executive director, said the center will target its work on four high priority efforts: water conservation, water reuse, groundwater desalination and energy development and water use.

“The center will establish a team of scientists, engineers and water professionals dedicated to applied research and development, testing and validation, technology transfer, and training and extension education in these four areas,” Wall said.

The center will work with industry, state and federal agencies, municipalities, trade associations, and other research institutions to undertake projects and develop solutions within these four areas.


David Lea, Oakville Beaver|May 23, 2012 – 3:50 PM

Near tragedy sparks new drilling rules

Near tragedy sparks new drilling rules. Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn. Oakville

In the wake of a potential tragedy in Oakville after a borehole was drilled in a local neighbourhood, Ontario is now strengthening regulations around drilling for geothermal energy systems.
The Dalton McGuinty government announced Friday that vertical, closed-loop drilling for geothermal energy systems will now require provincial approval with the installers also required to consult with a certified geoscientist before drilling.

“I was especially proud of my government for how quickly they acted. The minister’s response was sensible, it was balanced, but it was timely,” said Oakville MPP Kevin Flynn.

The new regulations, which take effect immediately, also require installers to develop an emergency plan before drilling.

Geothermal energy is a form of renewable energy that leverages underground temperatures to heat and cool buildings.

Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, Oakville council and the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs called on the Province to regulate drilling for geothermal energy systems after a natural gas deposit was struck in the Maple Grove Drive/Lakeshore Road area during this type of drilling on April 19.

This disturbed pocket of gas leaked into a home about 100 metres away. When the homeowner noticed the sump pump bubbling like a milkshake, Union Gas and the Oakville Fire Department were notified.

It led to a frenzied search by the fire department and Union Gas for the source of the gas leak.

The borehole was eventually discovered and potential disaster averted.

In the aftermath, Oakville Fire Chief Lee Grant said the development of new techniques for installing geothermal energy systems, particularly vertical drilling had created a regulatory gap in Ontario.

Grant said that while there are regulations and safety protocols concerning drilling for oil, natural gas or a well, there are none for digging a deep hole for any other purpose.

The provincial government move to close that gap was applauded this week by Oakville’s public servants.

“Oakville council is pleased that Minister (Jim) Bradley and the McGuinty government have listened to our concerns and the concerns of The Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs in acting to strengthen the requirements on borehole drilling for geothermal energy installations,” said Burton.

“The Town supports the Province’s commitment to promote renewable energy sources in a way that protects the health and safety of our community.”

Flynn agreed.

“It makes a lot of sense obviously given the circumstances. I’ll be the first to admit I had no idea there was natural gas under Oakville. With that knowledge in hand it would only make sense if you took a look to see if there was a need for regulation.

“In this case, with the circumstances in Oakville, the evidence is quite clear there is a need for regulation,” the MPP said.

Ted Kantrowitz, vice president of the Canadian GeoExchange Coalition (CGC), said his organization is urging its industry to review the new requirements and to take full responsibility to implement them immediately on all job sites.

Kantrowitz said clarification is needed with regard to who the new regulations will apply to.

“As we said earlier, it is clear this was not a geothermal-specific incident, but could have happened with any non-petroleum driller engaged in drilling a shallow borehole in the area.

“This includes water-well drilling, foundation pile drilling, routine construction drilling, test hole or other types of exploratory drilling, all of which are equally routine in Ontario.

“CGC has records of thousands of geothermal boreholes in Ontario as of this writing; there are tens of thousands of other types of shallow boreholes throughout the province,” wrote Kantrowitz in an e-mail.

“As gas pockets may be found across southern Ontario, and are already anticipated in drilling industry best practice as well as existing regulation, we at CGC will specifically seek clarification regarding whether all Ontario drillers who drill shallow boreholes in southern Ontario will now be required to enforce this temporary regulation — i.e. hiring geotechnical engineers for construction drilling approvals — as we would expect. Given the Town and the Province’s quick and severe reaction on this, I have to believe that these other drillers are just as much in danger of finding natural gas unexpectedly even though they execute due diligence as our geothermal driller did.”

Kantrowitz said the CGC would publicize the new regulations to more than 4,000 Ontario stakeholders on its mailing lists.

The Ontario Ground Water Association (OGWA) supported Burton’s concerns about drilling of vertical boreholes for geothermal heating systems.

The organization issued a statement after the incident in Oakville resulted in the evacuation of a home near the drilling site. The OGWA called for regulation.

The Ministry of the Environment will consult with industry stakeholders in the coming months on the new regulations and will also be conducting inspections to ensure installers are meeting safety standards.

Gov. Rick Perry has appointed Christopher C. Mathewson of College Station to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists for a term to expire Feb. 1, 2017. The board licenses and regulates the public practice of geoscience.

Mathewson is a regents professor emeritus and a senior professor of geology at Texas A&M University. He is a licensed professional engineer in Texas and Arizona, and a licensed professional geologist in Texas and Oregon. He is a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Society of American Military Engineers, a fellow of the Geological Society of America, and is a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the Division of Environmental Geosciences, and the American Geophysical Union. He is also a member of the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical & Petroleum Engineers, American Institute of Professional Geologists, the International Association of Engineering Geologists, the International Code Council, National Association of Geology Teachers and the South African Institute of Engineering Geologists. Mathewson is also a member of the Council of Examiners of the National Association of State Boards of Geology and participates in the writing and review of the licensure examination for professional geologists. He is past president and former executive director of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists, and is past chairman of the Texas Section of the Association of Engineering Geologists, the Geological Society of America Engineering Geology Division, and the U.S. National Committee for International Association of Engineering Geologists. He is past president of the American Geological Institute and a former trustee of the Geological Society of America Foundation. He also served as a commissioned officer in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Mathewson received a bachelor’s degree from Case Institute of Technology, and a master’s degree and Doctorate of Geological Engineering from the University of Arizona.

From Energy In Depth

1) Why the huge difference between what EPA found in its monitoring wells and what was detected in private wells from which people actually get their water?

  • Contrary to what was reported yesterday, the compounds of greatest concern detected by EPA in Pavillion weren’t found in water wells that actually supply residents their water – they were detected by two “monitoring wells” drilled by EPA outside of town.
  • After several rounds of EPA testing of domestic drinking water wells in town, only one organic compound (bis (2-ethylhexyl) phthalate) was found to exceed state or federal drinking water standards – an additive in plastics and one of the most commonly detected organic compounds in water. According to EPA: “Detections in drinking water wells are generally below established health and safety standards.”
  • Bruce Hinchey, president of Petroleum Association of Wyoming: “Let me be clear, the EPA’s findings indicate that there is no connection between oil and natural gas operations and impacts to domestic water wells.” (PAW press release, Dec. 8, 2011)
  • In contrast, EPA found “a wide variety of organic chemicals” in its two monitoring wells, with greater concentrations found in the deeper of the two. The only problem? EPA drilled its monitoring wells into a hydrocarbon-bearing formation. Think it’s possible that could explain the presence of hydrocarbons?
  • According to governor of Wyoming: “The study released today from EPA was based on data from two test wells drilled in 2010 and tested once that year and once in April, 2011. Those test wells are deeper than drinking wells. The data from the test wells was not available to the rest of the working group until a month ago.” (Gov. Mead press release, issued Dec. 8, 2011)

2) After reviewing the data collected by Region 8, why did EPA administrator Lisa Jackson tell a reporter that, specific to Pavillion, “we have absolutely no indication now that drinking water is at risk”? (video available here)

  • Of note, Administrator Jackson offered those comments to a reporter from energyNOW! a full week after Region 8 publicly released its final batch of Pavillion data. In that interview, Jackson indicates that she personally analyzed the findings of the report, and was personally involved in conversations and consultations with staff, local officials, environmental groups, the state and the operator.
  • After reviewing all that information, and conducting all those interviews, if the administrator believed that test results from EPA’s monitoring wells posed a danger to the community, why would she say the opposite of that on television?
  • And if she believed that the state of Wyoming had failed to do its job, why would she – in that same interview – tell energyNOW! that “you can’t start to talk about a federal role [in regulating fracturing] without acknowledging the very strong state role.” (2:46) A week later, why did she choose to double-down on those comments in an interview with Rachel Maddow, telling the cable host that “states are stepping up and doing a good job”? (9:01, aired Nov. 21, 2011)

3) Did all those chemicals that EPA used to drill its monitoring wells affect the results?

  • Diethanolamine? Anionic polyacrylamide? Trydymite? Bentonite? Contrary to conventional wisdom, chemicals are needed to drill wells, not just fracture them – even when the purpose of those wells has nothing to do with oil or natural gas development.
  • In this case, however, EPA’s decision to use “dense soda ash” as part of the process for drilling its monitoring wells could have proved a bad one.
  • One of the main justifications EPA uses to implicate hydraulic fracturing as a source of potential contamination is the high pH readings it says it found in its monitoring wells. But dense soda ash has a recorded pH (11.5) very similar to the level found in the deep wells, creating the possibility that the high pH recorded by EPA could have been caused by the very chemicals it used to drill its own wells.
  • According to Tom Doll, supervisor of the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: “More sampling is needed to rule out surface contamination or the process of building these test wells as the source of the concerning results.” (as quoted in governor’s press release, Dec. 8, 2011)