Devastating for those experiencing life in gasfields… UNFORGIVABLE if we ignore this stark and proven alert. Our government should be charged for the criminal act of enforcing this danger on the people of England.
We can expect one or more possible outcomes” including damage to roads, railroads and dams, groundwater pollution, more earthquake activity and “potential threat to residents in surrounding communities.”
With the advent of hydraulic fracturing, west Texas has experienced “unprecedented increases” in seismic activity in the last five to six years, as have Alberta and B.C.
The study, published in Nature, also reported that the ground was sinking by two to 10 centimetres around active, abandoned and orphaned wells. Researchers also found that in some areas oil and gas activity had created sinkholes by introducing freshwater to salt formations which caused them to dissolve.
In many respects the study highlights geohazards that were well known to oil and gas industry insiders but little discussed by the public or regulators.
Around the world groundwater exploitation, waste water injection, freshwater impoundment, hydraulic fracturing, CO2 injection and sustained hydrocarbon extraction have destabilized the ground, leading to heaving, sinking, fault reactivation, swarms of earthquakes and the formation of sinkholes.
Alberta, California, Texas, Louisiana, Venezuela, the Netherlands, the North Sea, Italy, Russia, Georgia and Oman, for example, have all recorded major ground sinking or “subsidence” due to unrelenting oil and gas extraction.
In recent years public concerns about safety in the Netherlands forced a joint venture operated by Shell and ExxonMobil to reduce the volume of methane being pulled from Europe’s largest gas field around Groningen due to swarms of earthquakes.
Residents say seismic activity that they compare to “bombs” as well as steady subsidence has reduced the value of their homes by $1.6 billion.
To prevent further ground sinking and unpredictable seismic activity, the government has ordered industry to cut methane extraction by nearly half since 2013 and is expected to order further reductions.
But the reductions have not stopped the earthquakes. In some parts of Groningen the ground has sunk nearly 24 centimetres due to the withdrawal of methane.]