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Friday, July 19, 2013

Former Mobil Oil VP *Warns* of Fracking and Climate Change

Industry insiders are now coming clean: Louis W. Allstadt was executive vice president of Mobil Oil; he ran the company's exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000.

"Allstadt: So when you talked about "the race for what's left," (fossil fuels) that's what's going on. Both the horizontal drilling and fracturing have been around for a long time. The industry will tell you this over and over again - they've been around for 60 years, things like that. That is correct. What's different is the volume of fracking fluids and the volume of flow-back that occurs in these wells. It is 50 to 100 times more than what was used in the conventional wells. The other [difference] is that the rock above the target zone is not necessarily impervious the way it was in the conventional wells. And to me that last point is at least as big as the volume. The industry will tell you that the mile or two between the zone that's being fracked is not going to let anything come up.

But there are already cases where the methane gas has made it up into the aquifers and atmosphere. Sometimes through old well bores, sometimes through natural fissures in the rock. What we don't know is just how much gas is going to come up over time. It's a point most people haven't gotten. It's not just what's happening today. We're opening up channels for the gas to creep up to the surface and into the atmosphere. And methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas in the short term - less than 100 years - than carbon dioxide. [...]

In the early days I was not sure that a ban was the right thing to do. I was thinking that there probably could be a technical solution, and if you had regulations [written] properly, you might be able to do it. The industry had solved some huge technical problems over the years. Like, how do you drill 250 miles offshore in iceberg alley off Newfoundland? The industry actually has a lot of very smart people working for it. As long as the box that they're working in is manageable, they can do a very good job. I think that what you've got in fracking is 'How do we work in a box this big,' narrowly defining the problem, [he holds his hands a foot apart in front of him] when you're really working in a huge box [he stretches his arms out wide] The real box is as big as the globe and the atmosphere. And they're not seeing the consequences of moving outside the small box that they're working in."

Read the full interview at