Oh, deary me, no my sweet peas, it can’t.
Some people claim that 60% of the fluid used in fracturing the rock stays underground forever instead of returning to the surface in the flowback water, and is free to escape unseen to ‘who knows where?’
It is true to say that around 40% flows back soon after fracturing has finished, but the rest doesn’t stay underground at all – it continues to return to the surface over the entire life of the well once it’s put into production cherubs.
The only time this would be different would be if a well was suspended or abandoned, but even then, darlings, the fluid won’t migrate anywhere because I’m afraid those pesky physics get in the way!
The reason that gas-bearing shale rock needs to be fractured in the first place to release its bounty is because, although it’s porous enough to contain lots of tiny wee gas molecules, it’s also impermeable my dears, and so the hydrocarbons it contains cannot flow anywhere.
After fracturing has been completed and pressure removed, injected fluid and any gas that has been liberated will naturally want to flow to the low pressure area of the well bore, following the fissures that have been created because these provide the path of least resistance. There’s nowhere else for it to go sweeties.
If the well is suspended or abandoned, with cement and mechanical plugs installed at the very base, the fluid and gas will obviously not be able to enter, but they also won’t go anywhere else because of the impermeable characteristics of the rock.
Think about it my dears – if it was that easy for substances to flow through the shale, operators wouldn’t be spending a small fortune on fracking would they, if they could simply sink a well and harvest what’s there?
And then there wouldn’t be any need for all these troublesome protests, would there pumpkins?
Until next time xxx