What is shale gas and where is it in the ground?
Shale gas is pretended to be the gas that is ecologically sound. However, 750 chemicals are used for the extraction of shale gas. There is a real chance that shale gas extraction could lead to an environmental disaster. Besides the use of chemicals, a lot of methane gas is released by the production of shale gas. Methane is a strong greenhouse gas. The extraction of shale gas is diametrically opposed to the idea that energy production should be made more sustainable. Yet more and more governments are allowing test drilling.
- What is shale gas?
- Shale gas production is associated with environmental pollution
- The dangers to the environment
- It is prohibited in France
- 650 Carcinogenic substances from shale gas extraction
- Negative experience in the US
What is shale gas?
Shale gas is extracted from the layer of the earth called shale. Shale is a rock that is formed by the deposition of organic material or sediments in the form of sand and stone grains. Shale gas is a sedimentary rock, which means that it is formed by deposits of sand, stone and vegetable residues. Initially, these components form a clay layer. These clay deposits contain minerals that eventually convert into a stone layer through drying out. Shale is a stone layer consisting of many thin layers, just like slate. For this reason shale is sometimes confused with slate. Incidentally, shale rock can be used as roofing just like slate.
Shale gas production is associated with environmental pollution
Drilling alone is not enough to extract shale gas. Chemicals should be injected into the earth layer. These chemicals
are mixed with water and are eventually pumped above the ground where it is considered chemical waste. Shale gas is therefore by no means a sustainable solution for energy production. Moreover, residues of chemicals remain in the earth layer. The water that rises after drilling is called production water. This method of drilling is also known as fracking.
The dangers to the environment
- Methane gas is released during the extraction of shale gas. Methane is 25 times more harmful than CO2; it is a much more harmful greenhouse gas. Methane gas can be released during transport in pipes.
- Drinking water can be contaminated by the chemicals used to extract shale gas.
- As with natural gas extraction, there is an earthquake hazard when drilling for shale gas.
It is prohibited in France
Due to the hazards to nature, fracking or drilling for shale gas is prohibited in France and Bulgaria. In the Netherlands, they want to carry out the first test drilling for shale gas in the near future. Because most shale gas is underground in Twente, Noord-Brabant, the Noord-Oostpolder and Zuid Limburg, it is expected that the Dutch government will allow test drilling in those regions.
650 Carcinogenic substances from shale gas extraction
Drilling for shale gas is already in full swing in the United States. Of all gas drilled into in the US, 30% is shale gas. In the US, the report ‘Chemicals used in Hydraulic fracturing’ showed that more than 750 chemical components were used
used to produce shale gas. The industry itself indicated that it had not realized that so many chemicals are needed to produce shale gas. They don’t want to know or pretend they don’t know. Of these 750 substances, 650 are carcinogenic. Nevertheless, the American report concludes that the extraction of shale gas can be a stepping stone to the extraction of clean energy.
Negative experience in the US
In the United States, negative experiences about the shale gas drilling have resulted in the documentary ‘Gasland’. In it, residents of a shale gas extraction area report all kinds of serious facts, such as environmental violations, diseases and mass deaths of birds, fish and other animals. The disorders most affected by local residents are brain damage, loss of sense of smell and taste and pain. The drinking water is so polluted that it has become cloudy. The US industry keeps secret which chemicals have been used, but drinking water research shows that drinking water contains arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and barium. In some areas tap water is so polluted that anyone holding a lighter near a running tap sees a flash.