Fire In the Well: Weatherford Couple Sues Range Over Nearby Gas Drilling

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Maybe you've seen the ads: On Wednesday we're co-sponsoring a special screening of Gasland at the Texas Theatre, which isn't the only movie we're screening next week. More about that later. But Josh Fox's Oscar-nominated film, as you probably know, features that now-infamous scene of a Colorado man being able to light his tap water, which oil-and-gas bizzers insist has nothing whatsoever do with nearby gas drilling, no sir, unh-unh. As former Dish mayor Calvin Tillman writes, "The natural gas industry keeps stating that the flaming water in Gasland was 'naturally occurring' methane."

Tillman, of course, doesn't buy it -- and neither do Steven and Shyla Lipsky, a Weatherford couple who, in 2004, bought 7.5 acres in Weatherford and spent the next five years and $4.5 million building their "dream home" in Parker County. But in 2010, they say, they discovered their well water was flammable -- due, they insist in legal docs filed earlier this week in Parker County District Court, to Range Production Company's fracking nearby. That, they say, wasn't part of the deal: They insist Silverado on the Brazos Development Co. told them a decade ago no oil or gas drilling would be allowed near the development. Only ... not so much.

The couple's Dallas and Fort Worth attorneys issued this release concerning the lawsuit against Range and Silverado on the Brazos earlier this week; it says the couple has "discovered that their well water contained benzene, toluene, ethane and a large amount of methane gas [and] due to the large amount of methane present, the well is no longer usable." Courthouse News has the docs, in which the couple's asking for $6.5 million.

Of course, the Environmental Protection Agency is already suing Range over water contamination from gas drilling in the Barnett Shale in Parker and Hood County.
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TXsharon
TXsharon

I just posted about this with some additional information. The Range Resources attorney said the Lipskys are getting some big benefits from having flammable water. http://txsharon.blogspot.com/2...  

Marc
Marc

It is long past time for drilling operations to acknowlede and pay for their mistakes. The claims of "naturally occurring methane" are bogus. If they were true, then these issues of flammable water would have manifested themselves long ago - decades, or even centuries ago!

It is much more than merely coincidental that natural gas wells are drilling and frac'ed nearby, and then suddenly people are able to light their water. The EPA did a fingerprint test on the gas found in the Lipskys' well and matched it to the exact same methane gas found in Range's production well. That is not coincidence. That is scientific fact, and it is proof that frac'ing caused the water well pollution.

This issue is not going away! Everyday, we learn more about the dangers, risks and hazards of natural gas exploration, which is being billed as the nation's "get out of jail free" card from foreign energy importation. We are just now learning about the dangers of frac sand mining (they gotta get that sand from somewhere to use in the frac'ing process) and it is not a pretty picture.

I hope the Lipskys clean up in court. It is time that drilling companies are held accountable for the damage and destruction they cause in pursuit of corporate profits at the expense of everybody else.

Edgar
Edgar

Cases of flammable water are becoming more commonplace for two reasons.

First, methane gas escapes into different formations as development of coalbed methane reservoirs reach maturity.  Particularly in the northeast, operators have produced CBM for decades.  CBM formations contain water and gas.  Those wells invariably bring some water to the surface in conjunction with the CBM.  As the water levels within those coal formations decline, the remaining gas expands, and to lower depths within the formation, where seams may exist.  Because the seams are suddenly exposed to gas due to the drawdown, the gas follows the seams and "leaks" into adjacent water formations - the very formations to which surface owners have drilled their water wells.

Second, as the population has grown, so has the need for more, and deeper, water wells.  More deep wells means more opportunities for this type of event to occur.

So, you're right.  The issue isn't going away.  It will continue to happen from time to time.  And, you're correct that the energy industry may be responsible in a large number of these cases.  But it has nothing to do with fracking.

Marc
Marc

Edgar, as usual, your statements in defense of the natural gas industry are completely void of fact and science.

Most water wells are dug to a distance of 100-1,000 feet, nowhere NEAR the 5,000 - 15,000 feet of natural gas wells. But, natural gas wells do penetrate the fresh water aquifers that provide well water for people in rural areas, and the pipes and casing grout (which is NOT cement, but rather a much weaker compound) are known to break down to the the corrosive nature of chemicals used in the frac'ing process and natural processes over time.

Population has nothing to do with this. You are trying to build a straw man argument that has no relevance. Besides, rural Parker County is hardly a densely populated area, and there is certainly no validity to any claim you make about population growth being a factor here.

Also, there is no coal bed methane production here, so that, too, is irrelevant, and your only reason for bringing it into the converesation is an attempt to distract the discussion from the relevant points of what has been proven by the EPA to be the fault of Range Resources and their frac'ing operations near the Lipskys' property and well.

As to your claim that "it has nothing to do with frac'ing", you are just plain wrong! Pumping water, sand and chemicals into a well bore at 15-16,000 psi very definitely DOES lead to pipe fractures, casing failures, unintended fracturing above the intended target shale layers, migration of methane, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, ethane and other things into the fresh water aquifers that sit high above the gas pockets and shale layers being frac'ed and other problems that cause contamination of fresh water wells 4,000 feet or more above the frac zone.

I do not mind an intelligent, fact based discussion on the merits of frac'ing, but you always seem to attack without any facts to support your arguments and conclusions at all. You automatically reject science and fact in defense of an industry based on hyperbole and conjecture. Fortunately, the vast majority of people are starting to see through arguments like yours as more facts come out. Like it or not, you are on the losing side in this battle.

Get used to it, because you are going to experience a lot more of it as time marches on.

http://fracdallas.org/

Edgar
Edgar

Definition of ARGUMENTATIVE1: characterized by argument : controversial 2: given to argument : disputatious

cp
cp

Is "argumentate" a word? What is "argumentative"?

Marc
Marc

See above!

Edgar
Edgar

You say I lie to make my points.  Point out one lie without mischaracterizing my statement.

Marc
Marc

Edgar, what you are really doing is exactly what you accuse me of doing. Why did you bring CBM into the discussion about Parker County? And, why do you make those false statements about "this had nothing to do with fracking" when it most definitely does? And, why do you make patently false statements about fractures NOT causing migration beyond the shale layer as if the fractures somehow automatically stop wheneve they hit the soil layer immediately above, below or aside a shale layer?

Let me be just a little more blunt - why do you always lie to make your points? If you don't want me to comment on your statements, then don't participate in the discussion.

Edgar
Edgar

Geez, Marc.  You always get so personal.  I never claimed that my points about CBM have anything to do with the Range incident in Parker County.  That's a different animal.  The more interesting animal is the kind involving CBM since it's the one implicated in Gasland and the one referenced all the time.  And I believe I was the one who mentioned casing failures in the first place, so don't try to fake-scoreboard me.  If casing needs to be stronger to withstand the rush of frac fluids than it does in conventional wells, then that needs to happen.  But my point that the fractures themselves don't compromise water stands, so don't try to be argumentative when there's no argument to be had.

With every reply, I'm more and more convinced that you're incapable of recognizing "an intelligent, fact based discussion."  Whenever anyone tries to have one with you, you ridicule them with conclusory rhetoric about how idiotic they are without addressing the valid points they make.  By the way, sorry you didn't get selected for the task force.  It's pretty easy to spot a hack, I guess.

 

TXsharon
TXsharon

Actually, there is no proof that fracking does not open pathways to water zones. In fact, Pavillion, Wyoming has fracking chemicals in their water along with the methane. In Coastal vs Garza, industry admitted that they do not have control of the fractures. The admitted that they may plan a 400' frack and it may go 1000' or 2000'. In that case, it went 3000' and trespassed. 

And, the oil and gas industry is a large factor in aquifer drawdown. In Parker County they use 1/3 of all the groundwater used and the water they use, unlike water used by the general population is no longer available for aquifer recharge. In Montague County last year the oil and gas industry used over 90% of the water used. In the Eagle Ford Shale they use 2 to 3 times more water per frack than they do in the Barnett Shale and they are already drawing down the aquifer. Those are direct impacts to our drinking water from fracking.  

Add to that what we now know about frack sand mining, there is another massive source of water use and contamination as will as contaminants in the air. In Montage County they will use an additional 2 billion gallons of water every year to mine and process the frack sand.  more about frack sand mining http://txsharon.blogspot.com/2... 

Edgar
Edgar

God, you're apparently a real nerd, too.

I made no more than a couple points and then defended them.  People who don't suffer from blind rage can see those points - I'll have to settle for that.

Either way, when you start talking about enchanted forests and shit, it's a sure sign that this dick-measuring contest has gotten really lame.

TXsharon
TXsharon

Well, Edgar, thanks ever so much for correcting me but the point of Coastal vs Garza was to illustrate that industry cannot control their fracking. 

I did not make a comment about Bob Simpson. I'm sure that particular XTO Bob would never be caught dead at a town council meeting. He sends the other Bob. 

Did you forget about Steven Brock? His water is flammable. Also, Tim and Christine Ruggiero just happen to have a baseline water test that shows their water was clean and clear before fracking and after fracking it had a lot of MTBE, a constituent of diesel fuel, and some other fracking stuff in it. Oops! Sure is handy to have those baseline water tests before you get fracked. 

There are quite a few cases of water in Texas that has some funky stuff in it shortly after fracking but I won't list them all here. It would take up too much room. 

Marc
Marc

Poor Edgar! He reminds me of the story of Oblio in Harry Nilssen's movie "The Point".

In the story, Oblio and his family lived in the Land of Point where everything had a point. Everybody there had a pointed head - except Oblio. Children in the Land of Point played a game of ring toss where they caught the ring on the points of their heads. Since Oblio had a round head he could not play until his mother knitted a hat with a point for him, and Oblio became very good at the game, which was the point.

One day, Oblio defeated the son of one of the town elders who then became very upset. He went to his father and complained that he was "unfairly" beaten by Oblio because Oblio did not have a pointed head, and therefore he cheated. The boy's father then proceeded to call a town meeting to discuss the matter of Oblio not having a point. It was a law in the Land of Point that everything had to have a point, and since Oblio did not have a point he was banished from the Land of Point to the Pointless Forest.

Sadly, Oblio, accompanied by his companion dog Arrow, departed town for the Pointless Forest. While in the forest he came upon a giant tree with points in every direction. This confused Oblio, who had no idea where to go, or to what all the points were pointing. He came upon a rock with whom he had a conversation and discussion about the pointed tree, and the rock finally told him that to point in every direction is the same as to have no point at all.

At that point Oblio went back to the Land of Point, and when confronted by the town's people he was asked why he had returned after having been banned. Oblio reiterated what the rock had told him, that to point in every direction is to not have a point at all. With that, somebody exclaimed, "He's got a point there!" And, Oblio was readmitted to the Land of Point.

Poor Edgar is like the pointed tree - always pointing in every direction, but not really making a point at all. He argues just for the sake of argument. I would bet that if I switched tactics and suddenly started arguing in favor of frac'ing that Edgar, out of reflex action, would immediately reverse his course and start telling me why frac'ing should never be allowed.

So, Edgar, what's your point?

Edgar
Edgar

You said Coastal v. Garza was trespass.  The supreme court held that it wasn't.  When I corrected you, it was meant to correct you, not deflect.  If I was interested in deflecting, I wouldn't have thereafter addressed your argument head-on.

And, I bring up CBM because it's extremely relevant to the wider arguments about flammability.  Context matters, and since people keep referencing flammability as a wide concern, I think it's pertinent to point out why they occur in the northeast, where almost all of them have occurred.

As for the Range case, I'll point out that there are tens of thousands of wells, and it's the only case of flammability in North Texas anyone is aware of.  Otherwise, I'll readily admit that I don't know much about the Parker County case, so I'll refrain from commenting about the causes.  We'll learn more as the case proceeds.

I have no comment about Bob Simpson or Gene Powell.

TXsharon
TXsharon

Nice way to try to deflect there Edgar but I never mentioned the point of Coastal vs Garza. Who cares about the point? It's the nice, juicy quotes  from the oil and gas executives that I love in the Coastal vs Garza case. Just like I love it when gasholes mention that they sometimes frack "out of zone."  Just a couple of weeks ago XTO Bob said at a Bartonville Council meeting that they should not worry if the frack goes into the water zone because "the water goes down the gas doesn't go up." Oops!  And, yes, I do have a recording of that. 

According to Gene Powell's "scientific research", the flammable water in Parker County is due to aquifer drawdown which reduces hydrostatic pressure. The reduced pressure allows the gas to seep up into the aquifer. Now, that's not why the gas is in the Lipsky well but poor old Gene was so busy trying to point the trigger away from fracking that he shot himself in the foot. Funneh. 

FYI, Barnett Shale is not CBM. 

Marc
Marc

First, I am hardly a moron, and I damned sure am not a shill for the gas industry, as you apparently are. As to being mean, I am not. I just have a very tolerance for patently false statements meant to dilute a discussion, which happens every time you comment on anything.

Edgar
Edgar

You're such a moron.  And so MEAN, telling me to go to hell and all.

Marc
Marc

Speed on, brother! Hell ain't half full!

Zebras and CBM have NOTHING to do with North Texas!

Edgar
Edgar

And in situations where fracking chemicals and gas (in the rare cases that it is actually from the fracked formations) have been discovered in water formations, that's obviously a problem.  But the solution to that is to regulate the casing and cementing of the vertical portions of wellbores that penetrate the shallower water formations.  Thousands of feet, or usually, miles, separate the vertical limits of fracks from the bases of aquifers.  Incidents of flammability nothing to do with fracking.  If you hear galloping, assume it's a horse, not a zebra.

Edgar
Edgar

Actually, the whole point of Coastal v. Garza is that there was no actionable trespass - the holding was that the rule of capture applies, and there was no remedy in trespass.  Also, it says only that the hydraulic length of a fracture can "sometimes" extend as far as 3K feet - it doesn't say it did in that case.  In the next breath, it points out that fracking only changes the effects of gas migration within the rock along the effective length of the fracture, which is much shorter than the hydraulic length or even the proppant length.  More convincing still, the same paragraph says, "The vertical dimension of the fracing pattern is confined by barriers — in this case, shale — or other lithological changes above and below the reservoir."

It is true that the industry is responsible for a lot of the drawdown of water reservoirs.  But the drawdown I referred to was the drawdown of the water occurring in CBM formations, which we can all agree that no one should drink.  Drawdown of water in water formations for use in fracking doesn't have any impact on depletion of CBM formations, which is responsible for flammability.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

It's funny how the industry continues to say, 'it's not us, that caused this'. But out of the blue situations like this are happening all over the country and now in Europe, so............

I'm so happy for Trinity East Energy who just yesterday, got their extra 30 months on their lease agreement. You should see that lease agreement, there's so many acres of land identified in the Dallas lease for proposed drilling it will make your head spin.

Mike Rawlings: Mayor of Gasland

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