Climate Diaries: Texas Drillers Might Freeze Their Frackers Off In Winter.

US Dept Energy, EIA/Public Domain

Texas faces now not only extraordinary dryness and fire danger, climate change has introduced the risk of gas production wells freezing up. Per a USDOE report: "Much colder than normal weather in the Southwestern United States in early February 2011 curtailed over 7 Bcf/d of natural gas production due to well freeze-offs (see chart); this disruption rivaled losses from major summer storms." Imagine this on a much larger scale, in the rapidly-approaching era in which the nation will rely far more on natural gas produced from fracking wells in Pennsylvania or New York than gas wells in Texas or off the Gulf Coast.

Billions of cubic feet per day is no trivial matter.
Texans are likely to close the schools and stay home rather than risk driving in a half-inch of snow. Makes me wonder: Will those good old frackers working central PA be able to handle the 3 feet of snow and more cold like New England and Mid-Atlantic states experienced over the last two years? More to the point, is the pumping and piping suited for for increased winter weather extremes? Because that looks like what we'll be facing.n Here's why.

It's not just the 'more moisture in the air thingy.' It's the phenomenon called Arctic Oscillation, which is briefly explained in this excerpt from Reuters coverage of last winters blast.

One driver of this winter's "crazy weather," Serreze said, is an atmospheric pattern known as the Arctic Oscillation, which has moved into what climate scientists call a negative phase.

This phase means there is high pressure over the Arctic and low pressure at mid-latitudes, which makes the Arctic zone relatively warm, but spills cold Arctic air southward to places like the U.S. Midwest and Northeast.

Inquiring minds need to know.
The concern ought not be just with production being compromised by a blizzard. Will the wastewater treatment systems properly function? Will spill cleanup be feasible?

Tags: Natural Disasters | Natural Gas