A report from the University of Texas further contributes evidence that hydraulic fracturing has not contaminated drinking water with methane in Parker County, or anywhere else in Texas.
The research reaffirmed findings from the Railroad Commission of Texas, which showed through nitrogen fingerprinting that water contamination was naturally occurring.
The main objective of the project was to improve understanding of shallow natural gas, which is sometimes found in groundwater wells.
During the project, researches took more than 900 samples from aquifers in the footprint of major Texas plays. A detailed chemical analysis was then performed on the water samples.
Throughout the study area, researchers reached similar conclusions: the presence of high dissolved methane concentrations from 784 freshwater wells in the Barnett, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Delaware Basin shale plays was likely natural and not related to fracking.
The study states a number of natural pathways could explain the presence of methane in aquifers.
“There is no need to invoke gas leakage to explain field observations. Structural and stratigraphic features explain the presence of thermogenic methane in shallow groundwater in the Haynesville and Barnett shale plays.”
Researchers said oil and gas-related sources of contamination cannot be ruled out, but contamination from well integrity failure is not likely to occur.
“Undoubtedly accidents happen and some of the high-methane in water wells we sampled could actually be the result of recent contamination. In the light of the results of the study, we believe these wells are in small number if they exist.”
Oil and gas drilling has drawn criticism recently after several reports of water contamination. In 2014, a team of researchers from five universities concluded that oil and gas activity contaminated several water wells in Parker County. The analysis determined poor casing and cementing of oil and gas production wells led to the presence of methane found in well water.