There has been a good amount of media coverage on various issues in Arkansas but not for all issues. There is also a great deal of industry advertising that paint shale gas extraction as being tested and true, and overseen thoroughly. Also the industry touts that fracking takes place a long distance under our groundwater with solid rock in between the injected chemicals and the surface. Also the industry claims the process is safe with little negative affect on the environment or people. Many of these industry ads and websites are misleading and some have grossly incorrect information.
For example, the industry sponsored organization Energy Advances Arkansas states on their website that, "Steel surface or intermediate casings are inserted deep into the well between 1,000 and 4,000 feet." In Arkansas, only 1,000 feet of surface casing is required and there is no intermediate casing. The website also states that, "The oil and gas-bearing reservoir is accessed (generally 6,000 to 10,000 ft).” and “Arkansas producers put maximum distance between wells and drilling activity. For example, the majority of fresh water wells are less than 500 feet deep in the Fayetteville Shale region. In contrast, the average drilling depth is 1.5 miles below the surface and separated from the aquifer by thousands of feet of impermeable rock."
Breakdown of active well depths in the Fayetteville Shale as of February 2013:
1,200-2,000 feet deep ≈ 165 wells
2,001-3,000 feet deep ≈ 710 wells
3,001-4,000 feet deep ≈ 1,280 wells
4,001-5,000 feet deep ≈ 1,280 wells
5,001-6,000 feet deep ≈ 690 wells
6,001-7,000 feet deep ≈ 195 wells
7,001-9,500 feet deep ≈ 90 wells
Again, here are some of their statements specific to the Fayetteville Shale area.
"The oil and gas-bearing reservoir is accessed (generally 6,000 to 10,000 ft).” -According to well statistics on file with the AOGC, only 6% or 285 of the 4,400 wells are 6,000 - 10,000 feet deep, most are much more shallow. (As of Feb. 2013)
"The average drilling depth is 1.5 miles below the surface and separated from the aquifer by thousands of feet of impermeable rock."
-Only 20 active wells of the 4,400 are over 1.5 miles deep. The average depth is actually about 3/4 of a mile (4,000 ft.) which is about half of the 1.5 miles stated on EnergyAdvancesArkansas.com. Over 80% of the active wells in the Fayetteville Shale are less than the "1 mile" that the industry often touts. Multiple groundwater and other geological studies by the USGS, AGS, and various universities show that the Fayetteville Shale area is full of natural faults and fractures and they show that no impermeable rock layer exists. The fracturing is occurring within a major aquifer system that is interconnected with our shallow drinking water and the surface.
While the statements made on Energy Advances Arkansas's website may be true in some of the other major shale plays in the U.S., they are false when talking about the Fayetteville Shale as they do here. This is one example of a great deal of misinformation being put out by the industry through websites, print ads, radio ads, television ads, billboards, and other advertising. To the right are links to some of these industry websites and ads as well as searches for media reports of natural gas related issues in Arkansas. You can also see past and future media reports on our Updates page.