Published on Tuesday, May 28, 2013 by Common Dreams
Think Fracking Is Bad? Wait Until You Hear about the Gas Industry’s “Acid Jobs”
It is a ‘scandal’ how little the public knows about ‘rock melting’ extraction process
- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Think fracking is bad? You should know about ‘acid jobs,’ environmental groups are warning.
A pumpjack drills for oil in the Monterey Shale, California, April 29, 2013. (Reuters/Lucy Nicholson) ‘Acid
jobs,’ a highly toxic method of fossil fuel extraction, have gone
vastly unregulated by lawmakers, particularly in California where the
method is commonly used.
An ‘acid job’ is a process whereby companies pump chemicals such as
hydrofluoric acid into an already built gas and oil well to “melt rocks”
and objects that are obstructing oil flow.
“These are super-hazardous, poisonous chemicals and we have no idea
what they are doing out there with it – how deep it is going, the
volumes – nothing,” said Bill Allayaud of the Environmental Working
Group. “Why shouldn’t our state agency be regulating it as we hope
they’ll be regulating hydraulic fracturing?”
Acid jobs differ from fracking in that the chemicals are used to
quickly eat away at rock and debris formations. Alternatively, fracking
blasts away rock formations with a toxic concoction of water and
Both processes are widely used and highly toxic, and the long-term environmental damage from each are equally untold.
Companies are currently not required to report when they perform acid
jobs and the process has mostly sneaked by while fracking has garnered
widespread international criticism.
The method is particularly pervasive in California’s Monterey oil formation, the largest shale reserve in the United States.
As Reuters reports:
Occidental Petroleum Corp, which is leading the way onKassie Siegel, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity, told Reuters that it is a “scandal” how little the public knows about the use of acid at well sites.
Monterey development, said in 2011 it was mainly using acid jobs to get
at the shale, and Occidental said this month that only a sixth of its
California wells were fracked.
Venoco, a company well known for running California offshore
operations near Santa Barbara and a driller of many onshore wells,
estimated a few years ago that more than eight out of 10 Monterey wells
could be completed with acid jobs alone.
“Taking hydrofluoric acid and injecting it into the ground and
changing the geology down there is a big concern,” she said, especially
if the acid was to migrate underground. “We should not have this
activity going on until we know those risks.”
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