February 24, 2018

Impacts from Hydraulic Fracturing by Headwaters Economics

Very important reports lay out what is ACTUALLY happening in Western US

By HeadwatersEconomics.org

Very important reports that lay out what is ACTUALLY happening, as tabulated by HeadwatersEconomics.org, in Western US – a clear look at the boom and bust cycle. See also a previous look at what happens where there is an economic concentration on drilling, asking: Are Energy-focusing Counties Benefiting?

NEW REPORT: IMPACTS from the new drilling technique, hydraulic fracturing from HeadwatersEconomics

What some people are not aware of is that the current “slick water” unconventional hydraulic fracturing with directional drilling is new. This technology came to the oil and gas fields in 2007—only five years ago. This is the fracking method that the oil industry has been using that is causing the intense water pollution to the communities around the world. It is this new technique, that within only five years, has depleted and contaminated our water supplies at such alarming rates.

The current mineral leases in Mora and San Miguel Counties, for example, were sold by landmen beginning the same year this new technique was introduced. This technology allows drillers to drill deeply into the ground—over 15,000 feet, and to scope out a mile and a half from the drilling point. Each time a well is fracked it can use upwards of 10 million gallons of fresh drinking water along with 1,000s of gallons of toxic chemicals–many which cause cancer. Unlike previous drilling techniques, which were less water and chemical intensive, the drilling was shallow and aquifers were less likely threatened.

This new technique of drilling and fracking has opened back up areas that had previously been considered out of reach for fossil fuel development. Today, the drilling frenzy is being tracked. Below are results of this drilling. The impacts on communities is just beginning–the boom and bust of “energy communities.” See Drilling Mora County


This report and related interactive map feature focus on county-level details of drilling rig activity for the period 2001 to 2011 in the six Rocky Mountain oil and gas states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

The report also identifies the 10 busiest counties, the 10 counties with the fastest build ups, and 10 counties with the steepest declines.

Key additional findings include:

* The pace and scale with which the industry moves often has significant impacts at the local level, with the majority of boom and bust activity confined to a handful of dramatically affected counties.

* Price is the most important driver of industry investment decisions. The strength of oil prices and low prices for natural gas explain why oil drilling has helped lead a recovery of drilling activity.

* Development occurs when and where resources are prime, a factor primarily determined by technological change.

* In 2011, rig activity in the Rocky Mountain states and western North Dakota, exceeded the heights reached during the natural gas boom of the 2000s.

The two sets of maps – Where Rigs Are and Change in Where Rigs Are – show the volatility, both in drilling rig numbers and county geography, of oil and natural gas development in the West and Northern Great Plains from 2001 – 2011; and how wide swings cause dramatic episodes of growth and contraction for local areas.

The entire region was hard hit by the recent recession. Since then, oil has replaced natural gas as the key driver in drilling rig location, driving growth in southwestern New Mexico, northern Colorado, and western North Dakota.

For comparison, the current drilling volume of activity in western North Dakota exceeds the levels of mid-2000s natural gas boom in western Colorado and southwestern Wyoming.