No oil, no gas

To the Editor:

Oil and natural gas are found in two different varieties, conventional and unconventional. Conventional oil is liquid crude oil. Conventional natural gas is free un-trapped gas. Each can be found uniquely. Both can be found together. Colonel Drake struck conventional oil with a well drilled to a depth of 69.5 feet at Titusville, PA in 1859. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon was two days away from temporarily capping an oil well, in the Gulf of Mexico, it had drilled more than six miles deep in 4,130 feet of water. During the disconnection process the rig suffered a blowout. The natural gas caught fire, sinking the rig. During the 357 days it took to stem the flow of oil and natural gas, 3.3 million barrels of oil plus copious amounts of natural gas were released into the Gulf of Mexico. These are two examples of the process used to drill and release conventional oil and natural gas.

America’s conventional oil tank is almost empty. All that is left at the bottom is about twenty units of oil. Each year, two units of this oil is pumped out of the ground. At current rates of extraction, America’s conventional oil tank will be drained dry in 10 years. (One unit of oil equals 1 billion barrels). America’s voracious annual oil appetite consumes seven units of oil every year. If America had to rely only on her conventional supplies of conventional liquid crude oil, her tank would be empty in just three years.

American oil companies are now clamoring to develop unconventional sources of oil and natural gas.

A new wave of drilling called “fracking” is being used to extract these unconventional sources of oil and natural gas. Fracking is a federally unregulated process. The procedure involves Injecting a chemical cocktail under pressure to break apart shale rock so the oil and/or natural gas can escape and forced to the surface.

Flames exploding from kitchen taps, and livestock dropping dead from tainted water. These aren’t scenes from a horror movie. They’re the increasingly common results of fracking in many places in the U.S. To date, at least 1,000 cases of water contamination have been documented near drilling sites. In some cases, residents can no longer drink from their taps. At least 44 municipalities across the country have passed measures to ban fracking.

EPA has determined that hydraulic fracturing played a role in contaminating drinking water in a Wyoming community. Groundwater in the aquifer contains compounds associated with hydraulic fracturing. Fracturing was exempted by a 2005 energy bill from needing prior approval from regulators under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

America will never ever again be able to become energy self-sufficient and energy independent in producing the oil and natural gas it needs from its indigenous combined reserves of conventional and unconventional sources of oil and natural gas.

Peter Cabana

Vineyard Haven