In a sense of respite for the US government, that is facing criticism for the controversial technique hydraulic fracturing from the environmentalists, a new study suggests that the process does not significantly contribute to global warming.
Hydraulic fracturing involves cracking open shale rock by injecting a cocktail of sand, water, and chemicals underground.
The study that was led by University of Texas found that the drilling for shale gas through hydraulic fracturing appears caused smaller leaks of the greenhouse gas ‘methane’ than the federal government had estimated. Moreover, these leaks were considerably smaller than some critics of shale gas had feared.
The researchers carried detail study at more than 500 wells. The Texas study concluded that while the total amount of escaped methane from shale-gas operations was substantial i.e. more than one million tons annually, it was probably less than the Environmental Protection Agency estimated in 2011.
The groundbreaking study has brought cheers to the oil and gas companies such as Exxon Mobil, Shell, and Chevron, which have relied on breakthroughs in so-called fracking technology to cheaply unlock vast new reserves of domestic oil and natural gas that had been trapped underground in shale-rock formations.
“It’s very good news,” said Richard Keil, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, of the study.
“This is a groundbreaking survey. It’s the most extensive one that’s been done yet, and it serves to add important new evidence that hydraulic fracturing does not contribute to climate change–it does not contribute methane emissions at levels higher than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency.”
Many environmental experts have expressed fear that the process can contaminate underground water supplies–and also that it releases underground stores of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that can have 20 times more impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.
The report was published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.