National Ground Water Association (NGWA)

Important topic of groundwater quality and unconventional oil and gas development explored during first day of workshop

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Attendees gathered in Columbus, Ohio, for the first day of NGWA’s two-day workshop, Groundwater Quality and Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Current Understanding and Science Needs. This sold-out workshop is exploring the latest findings regarding groundwater quality and unconventional oil and gas development.

Daniel Soeder of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, pictured at left, moderated the first half of the day in a session titled “Sources and Migration of Stray Gas in Groundwater Associated with Shale Gas Development.” Among the presentations were “Surface Casing Pressure, Well Integrity Loss, and Stray Gas Migration in the Wattenberg Field, Colorado,” by Greg Lackey of the University of Colorado, Boulder. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Wattenberg is listed as the ninth largest gas field in the United States in terms of remaining proved gas reserves and fourth in remaining proved oil/condensate reserves.

Lackey, who is currently pursuing his Ph.D., concluded among other things that horizontal drilling in Wattenberg does not increase the risk of stray gas migration. Lackey also noted that the NGWA workshop, Groundwater Quality and Hydraulic Fracturing: Is There a Connection?, that took place in 2014 at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, benefited him greatly in his career pursuits.

Anthony Gorody, Ph.D., PG, of Universal Geoscience Consulting Inc. moderated the second half of the day in the session, “Approaches and Technology for Monitoring Groundwater Near Shale Gas Wells.” NGWA previously interviewed Stephen D. Richardson, Ph.D., PE, of GSI Environmental Inc. in Austin, Texas, who, during this session, presented research results on baseline sampling of water wells in areas of shale gas development.

A breakout session on research needs for stray gas preceded the second half of the day. A meet-and-greet will conclude the day.

The second day of the Groundwater Quality and Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Current Understanding and Science Needs workshop features the session, “Fate and Transport of Fracking Chemicals and Drilling Fluids in Groundwater, Including Natural Attenuation Studies,” moderated by Peter B. McMahon, Ph.D., of the U.S. Geological Survey.

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