To the Editor: Geologist offers insight on fracking controversy
Written by Janine (Waggoner) Sturdavant   
Wednesday, 25 September 2013 08:54
While in town visiting family, I followed the City Council discussion on gas well fracking in the Sentinel. As an active petroleum geologist, I found the discussion interesting, although full of factual errors.
The primary producing reservoir in NW Ohio is the Ordovician-age Trenton. The rock is a limestone which becomes very porous when dolomitized, or fault-fractured, as is the case beneath BG.  It would not be a candidate for fracking, as it already has plenty of porosity and is very capable of producing hydrocarbons without fracking.
The problem in 1880 was that there was not any use for natural gas and so the gas was flared to the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the gas was originally dissolved in the oil (which is very heavy and tar-like) and helped to mobilize the oil so it could flow to the surface. By flaring the gas, the old producers destroyed the pressure in the reservoir and it is impossible to get the oil to the surface today.
Fracking is not going to happen in BG; it is unnecessary and unfeasible. Fracking works in what we call "tight" reservoirs that have very low natural porosity and permeability.  The Trenton is not such as reservoir and it would not be worth the great additional expense to frack a Trenton well in Wood County.  That doesn't preclude some new technology that could be applied here and could be utilized to produce the huge amounts of oil remaining in the ground.  It is my belief that the thousands of unplugged 130-year-old wells would have to be cemented first.
Perhaps this is the real environmental issue in the area that could contribute to ground water pollution.  These very shallow old wells are possibly conducting hydrocarbons toward the surface and allowing potential carcinogens to get into water supplies. The visiting water quality experts might want to look into this real possibility.
I would not want to see BG prevent any future revenues from oil production by over-reacting to the hysteria revolving around fracking today.  I cannot imagine this is a real issue in Wood County.  We do not even have the Marcellus or Utica shales beneath us, the rock formations which are currently being fracked in eastern Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. They were eroded away hundreds of millions of years ago.
Janine (Waggoner) Sturdavant
Certified Petroleum Geologist MS, MBA CPG #6083
Golden, Colo.
 

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