Wednesday, 23 April 2014

"Making fracking safe is simply not possible" says former oil-man

They say there's no louder an apostle than a sinner converted. And no more devastating a critic than an insider who has seen behind the gilded curtain. So the words of Louis Allstadt, ex-VP of Mobil Oil, must be echoing fearfully around the fracking industry.

"Making fracking safe is simply not possible, not with the current technology, or with the inadequate regulations being proposed," he told a group of elected officials in New York State this week.


With 30-plus years working at Mobil Oil, before its merger with Exxon (he headed its oil and gas drilling division in the Americas), this is not a man easily dismissed a part of the 'anti-everything brigade'. Initially in favour of drilling for shale gas - and the promise of energy plenty its proponents like to make - he turned against it after digging deeper. 



In essence, he recognised hydraulic fracking for what it was - an industrial-scale pillaging of the subsurface to scrape the last dregs of hydrocarbon from the oil barrel. "A fracked well can require between 50 and 100 times the water and chemicals compared to older wells", he said at the meeting. "And this requires thousands of trucks coming and going. It is much more a heavy industrial activity."

His critiques must be hurting. Since he started raising questions over fracking in New York, oil-and-gas industry players have been lining up to question his credentials.  But Allstadt has quietly persisted in asking those hard questions. Maybe those with vested interests should spend more time answering them. Unless, perhaps, soothing retorts are hard to come by.

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