Hydraulic fracture advances on tiptoe through Mexican lands

Hydraulic fracture advances on tiptoe through Mexican lands

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By Emilio Godoy

Vicente is a building representative of the community of Santa Úrsula within the municipality of San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, about 450 kilometers south of Mexico City, in the state of Oaxaca, where “fracking is handled as a hidden issue, there is much to do information, ”he told IPS.

Tuxtepec, with about 155,000 inhabitants, and the Oaxacan municipality of Loma Bonita are part of the Papaloapan B project, with seven other municipalities in the neighboring state of Veracruz, promoted by the state-owned company Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex) since 2011 to exploit gas deposits and also oil.

The project, supported by the state-owned but autonomous National Hydrocarbons Commission (CNH), spans 12,805 square kilometers and seeks to take advantage of reserves estimated at between 166,000 and 379,000 million barrels (of 159 liters) of shale gas oil equivalent.

The program includes the exploratory drilling of 120 wells and the completion of 24 geological studies, with a total investment of about $ 680 million.

But in Tuxtepec they do not know it. “We don't know about him. Normally, companies do not provide information to communities, they make arrangements in the dark or with some landowners with deception, taking advantage of the lack of money in the area, "denounced Vicente, whose rural community has about 1,000 inhabitants.

These works to determine if there is shale gas, also known by the English word "shale", require the technique of hydrofracturing, in English "fracking".

It consists of drilling to obtain hydrocarbons embedded in very deep underground rocks, by means of the massive injection of water and a mixture of chemical products for its release on a large scale.

Liquid waste can contain substances that require treatment before being disposed of, according to specialists and organizations such as the environmentalist Greepeace.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) ranks Mexico sixth in the world in technically recoverable shale gas reserves, behind China, Argentina, Algeria, the United States and Canada, in an analysis of 137 deposits in 41 countries. In oil it ranks seventh.

In silence, hydraulic fracturing advances through the Mexican subsoil, wrapped in opacity and without regulations, according to data from the non-governmental Cartocrítica that indicates that at least 924 wells were drilled in six of the country's 32 states, 349 of them in Veracruz .

In 2010, the study “Tertiary Oil Project of the Gulf. First review and recommendations ”, from the Ministry of Energy and the CNH, placed 1,323 wells drilled using this technique only in Veracruz and the contiguous state of Puebla.

In the northeastern territory of Tamaulipas, where 100 wells have been drilled, Ruth Roux, director of the Center for Social Research at the public Autonomous University of Tamaulipas, encountered ignorance and uncertainty among farmers who have leased land for this development.

“The first difficulty is that there is no information on where there are wells. The farmers are dissatisfied, because they were not informed of what is going to happen to their land. They begin to see that their environment is transformed. Furthermore, they don't know what shale gas or fracking is, ”he told IPS.

Within the study “Diagnosis and analysis of the social impact of the exploration and exploitation of gas / oil (petroleum) shale related to culture, legality, public services and the participation of social actors in the states of Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas ”, Roux and his team interviewed five sorghum producers and two building leaders from four municipalities in Tamaulipas.

Their preliminary findings refer to feelings of abandonment, lack of respect, ignorance and uncertainty, the researcher explained. In these localities, 42 wells have been drilled, in whose proximity 443 houses stand.

The industry considers the development of shale gas as strategic to sustain its production, which in April stood at 6,257 million cubic feet per day.

But its proven reserves of conventional gas, according to Pemex data from January 2014, were only at just over 16,000 trillion (million million) cubic feet, while the estimated reserves of shale gas, projected in 2017, are much more auspicious. 141,000 trillion cubic feet.

By 2026, according to Pemex's projection, the country would produce 11 billion cubic feet of gas, 45 percent provided by unconventional fields.

The company identified five basins rich in shale gas spread across 11 states.

For the second half of the year, the CNH prepares the tender for unconventional resources, within the execution of the energy reform whose legal framework was defined in August 2014 and which opens to the private sector, national and foreign, exploitation, refining , distribution and trade of hydrocarbons, as well as the generation and sale of electricity.

The transformation is made up of nine new laws and the reform of 12 others, which materialize the historic energy reform of December 2013.

The new Hydrocarbons Law stipulates that the owners of the land and the companies, be they Pemex or other operators, must reach an agreement on the exploration and exploitation of the resources, otherwise a judge will define the terms of the arrangement.

Vicente assured that the law makes any refusal from the community difficult. “We fear that fracking will affect the water, because of the amount it requires and because of the contamination of the chemicals (products) they use. When we find out about the project, it will be a bit late, "he said.

The inhabitants of Tuxtepec, where sugar cane, rubber and corn crops proliferate, as well as livestock, fishing and commerce, already know what it means to fight against energy works. Since 2011 they have managed to suspend the construction of the small hydroelectric plant Cerro de Oro, with 14.5 megawatts of capacity and private capital.

The recipe: community organization. “We are organizing again. What has happened in other states can be repeated here ”, highlighted the building delegate.

Papaloapan B is part of the Veracruz Basin Comprehensive Project, laid out over 51 municipalities in that state, to take advantage of its shale reserves.

On the border of Tuxtepec, Pemex has already drilled some wells, with no data available in this regard.

Tamaulipas producers "complain that their plots fill with water" after the works, and that "they no longer produce the same," said Roux, for whom the explorations generate "violence" and are "a source of conflict."

The specialist and her team extend their research to the northern states of Nuevo León and Coahuila, where 182 and 47 wells have been drilled, respectively.

Each drilling demands between nine million and 29 million liters of water. In addition, fracturing fluids contain about 750 chemical components, including several harmful to human health and the environment, according to US academic and environmental organizations.

IPS News

Video: Precice Nail for Compression of Nonunions (June 2022).


  1. Montague

    the very funny answer

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