A Review of the Nigerian Energy Industry

Former Mobil exec pans fracking

Shale+Rock28 April 2014, News Wires – A former executive of Mobil Oil who now resides in upstate New York has come down hard against hydraulic fracturing, saying the controversial completion practice cannot be done safely.

Louis Allstadt, who worked for Mobil for 31 years and was the company’s vice president of exploration and production in North America prior to the 1999 merger with Exxon, told a news conference in the US state this week that fracking is inherently dangerous.

“Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed,” the Albany Times Union newspaper quoted him as saying.

New York does not allow fracking within state borders and residents have pushed back hard against Marcellus shale explorers who want to drill for gas there.

The 70-year-old Allstadt, who retired in 2000, has become an outspoken opponent of fracking since he started looking into the issue when New York began debating whether to allow it.

He lives outside of Cooperstown, near Lake Otsego, where oil and gas companies are hoping to begin gas development.

“Now the industry will tell you that fracking has been around a long time. While that is true, the magnitude of the modern technique is very new,” Allstadt was quoted as saying.

The water and disposal demands required for a single well translates into “thousands of trucks coming and going”, he continued.

“It is much more a heavy industrial activity.”

He said he is also concerned about methane leakage from gas production and transportation.

The oil and gas industry has held steadfast in its claims that fracking can be done safely and that the risks can be mitigated.

However, recent chinks in the collective armour have emerged. The state of Ohio earlier this month implemented tough new regulations on fracking after finding a “probable” linkbetween the practice and earthquakes, flying in the face of strong industry claims to the contrary.

Earlier this week, a Texas jury awarded a family $3 million after a private gas driller was found liable for contaminating local water and air with its fracking operations.

In a move that appears aimed at quelling public opposition to fracking, services giant Baker Hughes said this week that it would start disclosing 100% of the chemicals it uses in the fracking process – something the public has long demanded but the industry has strongly resisted.

Baker Hughes said it is trying to achieve “a balance that increases public trust while encouraging commercial innovation”.

Allstadt’s recent comments were not the first anti-fracking remarks this year to make media waves.

In February he wrote an open letter to ExxonMobil chief executive Rex Tillerson pointing out the perceived irony of his opposition to a water tower used for fracking being built near his home in northern Texas. (Tillerson has since pulled out of the lawsuit opposing the tower, according to reports.)

“No one should have to live near well pads, compression stations, incessant heavy truck traffic, or fracking water towers, nor should they have their water or air contaminated,” Allstadt wrote in the letter.


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