Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leak Causes Evacuation in Caddo Parish

Yesterday, an Exco Resources well in Caddo Parish encountered an unexpected shallow pocket of natural gas that caused gas to spew in the air and infiltrate ground water, although authorities need to fully investigate to figure out how the aquifer became tainted.  This led to a voluntary evacuation of 125-135 homes (Shreveport Times says 125, Wall Street Journal says 135) that continues today.  Exco reported the incident and is paying for hotel rooms.  It is unknown when the evacuation order will be lifted.  The well will be permanently shut-in once it is controlled.  News reports indicate that there are two other wells on the same pad, one of which has been completed and another awaiting completion.  No word on what happens to them.

Unfortunately, this incident likely will be seized upon by environmental activists opposed to hydraulic fracturing (and/or natural gas drilling in general) who will confuse the dangers of gas drilling with fracking.  I don't mean to downplay the situation, as it is very bad that gas has seeped into the already fragile Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer.  My point is that the causes, once determined, should be stated clearly.  Where there is a problem, it should be addressed quickly.  It sounds like this well was still in the drilling phase so fracking likely played no role in the incident.

A reader sent me a youtube video of Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon being accosted by questioners at a speech he gave at Harvard last month. Many of the questioners/protesters, while well intentioned, were spewing forth false information.  One woman said, "people are dying" in her county because of drilling.  Clearly that is not true.  The facts and the hysteria need to be separated.  I've long said that the fracking process needs to be more transparent, but now I wonder if it is too late for facts to pierce the veil of perception. 

[4/22/10 UPDATE: Editorial from Shreveport Times]

No comments: