Natural Gas, Bakken, Marcellus and Energy Security

By June 5, 2009Energy, General

From the testimony of Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources of the Industrial Commission, North Dakota, at Thursday’s hearing by a House Natural Resources and Environment Committee subcommittee hearingo natural gas and hydro fracturing. Helms was also representing the states of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

As the head regulator of oil and natural gas development in the State of North Dakota and an officer of the IOGCC representing all oil and natural gas producing state regulators, I can assure you that we have no higher priority than the protection of our states’ water resources – let me repeat no higher priority. Much of our entire regulatory framework, from drilling to completion, production, and finally plugging and abandonment, is centered around measures to prevent any contamination of the water resource. As a component of the completion of a well, hydraulic fracturing operations are thus thoroughly regulated and supervised by the states.

A major component of production operations is the proper storage and disposal of all production wastes, including hydraulic fracturing flow back water. These operations are carefully monitored, audited, and regulated in our state programs.

As I noted in my testimony above, hydraulic fracturing is a critical component of developing the Bakken formation, indeed every shale play throughout the U.S. and Canada. Without hydraulic fracturing, under regulation of the states, this resource could not be produced.

As Helms notes, the Bakken Formation can yield 4-7 billion barrels of oil and 4-7 trillion cubic feet of natural gas — using current technology, which now includes hydrofrac.

That’s energy security at work.

We also commend the testimony of Mike John, Vice President of Corporate Development and Government Relations, Eastern Division, Chesapeake Energy Corporation:

The topic of this hearing is very exciting because shale gas no longer just has “potential.” It is real, and it is a game-changer not only for America’s natural gas industry but also potentially for our nation, our economy and our environment! In fact, North American natural gas supply is so plentiful it has been described recently by some experts as a virtual “ocean of natural gas. As such, this shale gas revolution has made greater energy independence, enhanced national security and a significantly cleaner environment, attainable goals today. The real issue is no longer whether there is adequate supply, but rather whether there is adequate demand for this clean-burning, domestically produced fuel to continue the development of these enormous resources bases.

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