Grove City College Fracking tour drills through misconceptions in PA

Operators explain the basics of fracking to onlooking students using a large model.

To cut through the misinformation disseminated by the radical left on the process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, CFACT coordinated a tour for twenty four Grove City College students in Pennsylvania to see a conventional fracking operation first hand. 
This type of fracking is a process by which a mixture of water and sand is used to break up sandstone under the Earth’s surface to release natural gas and oil. It has helped contribute to the natural gas revolution in the United States in recent years.
The tour which took place in Sheffield, PA, was led by operators from the Cameron Energy company. The up close and personal experience made a a strong impact on the students, with several stating they were surprised by the amount of labor that went into the process.  “I don’t think I’d want to do that every day” and “I wouldn’t want to do that in the winter” were common sentiments.

Participants on the tour ride one of the trucks used in well control.

Cameron president Arthur Stewart said: “In an age where a lot of students think electricity comes from the wall, these students were a breath of fresh air.  Several of the students said they arrived expecting hydrofracturing to be dangerous or harmful but that the visit was eye-opening for them.  We don’t want to tell students what to think—we just want them to use their own senses and logic to make informed decisions.  The Grove City professors and students asked smart questions and were refreshingly open to different points of view.”
Tyler Martin, the Environmental Care Coordinator for Cameron, said “Several comments that I either overheard or were said directly to me from the students were things like ‘Is this the same gas that heats homes and cooks food?’ and ‘I thought fracking was very dangerous before today.'”

Grove City students got a first-hand look at the sites used in drilling for oil and natural gas in the Allegheny National Forest.

As the home of the world’s oldest oil fields, Pennsylvania is a marvelous laboratory to study energy return on investment (EROI).  The drilling for oil (and the harvesting of any energy) is only worthwhile if the process returns more energy than is invested.  Today, around the world, as the “easy” energy is harvested, we need to invest more energy to harvest the remaining options. Thus, today, we drill for oil in the Gulf of Mexico instead of exclusively on land; we dig tar sands in Canada and “cook” it into oil.
One hundred years ago Pennsylvania’s “conventional oil industry” (shallow vertical wells) was able to harvest about 100 units of energy for every 1 unit invested. Today that ratio has dropped to about 15 units harvested for every 1 unit invested. EROI reminds us of the difficulties we face in replacing energy-intense fossil fuels.

A roughneck displays examples of the tools used on a frack job to Grove City students.

While at the frack job the students inspected the environmental controls installed to contain and recirculate the frack water.  They also observed installations along the roads (filter socks, rock filter dams and sumps) used to prevent stream sedimentation.  It was a rainy day; nevertheless, just downhill from the frack site the water running in the ditches was crystal clear.  The students were surprised at the amount of energy invested in the care for the environment.
The students then visited Cherry Run, the stream just downhill from the frack job.  There the students learned their visit was in the Allegheny National Forest and that there are over 12,000 active oil and gas wells in the ANF. 

Tyler Martin explains the environmental controls in place at Cameron’s well sites.

Cherry Run is rated “High Quality” and students learned about studies by the ANF that grade the streams in the ANF as the highest water quality in the state.  The students were surprised that oil and gas operations could coexist so smoothly in a national forest.  The students had lots of questions about how the process worked, and they were surprised that the majority of the oil and gas in the ANF is privately owned.
CFACT helped make arrangements for the tour.  Mr. Stewart thanked CFACT: “Despite the fact that everyone relies on oil and gas, there is a great deal of misinformation in the world about oil, gas and hydrofracture. We warmly thank CFACT for helping us bring these young minds on site so they can see and make informed decisions for themselves.”