Pilot Truck Stop# 380, Near Syracuse, New York, January 3, 2017
The latest trip started with a “Deadhead” from Schenectady to Syracuse, across the Middle of Upstate New York. During the transit, I noticed at some road cuts that there was a dark, black layer of rock underlying the surrounding landscape. The weather was not idea for photography, but I managed to catch a few snapshots of it.
Black layer of rock in a road cut Near Little Falls, New York. The white parts are snow, of course. I mention this because most of my readers never see this stuff. 😉
This rock is black because it contains organic material. When I say “organic”, I do not mean that the rock was grown without pesticides or fertilizer. I mean to say that this is the stuff of life. This particular metamorphic rock is formed by (first) sedimentation of clay that contains rotted dead plants and animals. This is not surprising, since plants and animals have been around for billions of years. Most sedimentary and metamorphic rock contains organic material to some lesser or greater degree.
This is shale, which has a lot of organic material and been buried deep until the stuff has broken down into simpler molecules. These molecules cannot escape because the rock is porous, but impermeable. It contains the stuff, but it won’t give it up easily. When, due to geological, forces the rock is broken to pieces, the organic molecules can escape as liquid or gas. Then it is called petroleum (which means literally “rock oil”) or natural gas.
The escaping gas has been known about for centuries. Wherever shale is exposed to the surface or drilled into for water, the gas will escape – and sometimes catch fire. There are historical accounts of eruptions of flames in regions like this that date back before Revolutionary times. It is because of such escapes that the shale at the outcrops is relatively poor in petroleum content and only the deeper buried parts of the geological unit are worthy of commercial development.
Now, I mention this Black Marine Shale not because it is something rare, but because I happened to be passing near Utica, New York when I “discovered” it. I knew this structure by reputation only. It is called the Utica Shale. I was not the first to stumble upon it.
The Utica Shale is a stratigraphical unit of Middle Ordovician age in the Appalachian Basin. It underlies much of the northeastern United States and adjacent parts of Canada. It takes the name from the city of Utica, New York, as it was first described as an outcrop along the Starch Factory Creek east of the city by Ebenezer Emmons in 1842.
Rock formations are frequently named for the locations where their outcrops occur and the Utica Shale is no exception. I looked it up, and sure enough, Starch Factory Creek parallels the road, just to the South of where I was driving.
Now, you may wonder why I go on about this Geological situation. It is because the United States is blessed with many such rock formations. Geologists have known about them for centuries and have sought out those areas where the shale have been broken up naturally and the gas (or liquid) has escaped into “traps” of more permeable rock, like sandstone. Geologists pondered for over a century about the abundant (like way!) amounts of oil and gas trapped in the vast, undisturbed remainder of said shale for over a century.
Since 1949 a technique called hydraulic fracturing has been successfully used to coax more oil and gas out of the shale formations. It was not until horizontal drilling was developed and commercialized that the economics of the large, impermeable shale formations began be profitable. Shale gas, in particular, has become so cheap and plentiful that it is now the fuel of choice for electric generation and heating. Use of Natural Gas is moving into transportation, as well.
This organic stuff from the ground is why whales still live today. The whales were being hunted down for their organic content, you see. Granted, their organic compounds were still complex molecules, but the whales were cut up out at sea and “tried out” – that is rendered down by heat until they turned into whale oil. Whale oil was the go-to solution for artificial lighting in those days. When it was found that this “rock oil” would also serve well for the purpose, it became only sensible to use it instead of the much more expensive whale oil. It had to be refined a bit, yes. The standard product for lighting was called kerosene and John D. Rockefeller and others became wealthy making and selling the stuff. Commercial whaling died out, having been rendered (pun intended) obsolete.
Two side notes:
Early automobiles were made to burn alcohol, but the refineries had this waste product of the kerosene process that worked better. It was stored in big vats and the automobile drivers would pull up and take away as much of the volatile “gasoline” as they wanted. The kerosene refiners were glad to get rid of the stuff, which was too dangerous to burn in lamps and stoves.
The earliest automobiles also used whale oil headlights – but not for long.
This must be said:
A Fraud was perpetrated by the Environmental Protection Agency in an attempt to slander oil producers. In three very public cases they went after Hydraulic Fracturing with false accusations of ground water contamination. The cases are referred to as “Dimock, Pavillion and the Range Resources case. I will paraphrase from my presentation, “Energy, Oil, Gas and Shale”:
- The EPA has made serious accusations against fracturing in three very public cases.
- “It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish* town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they would crucify ” – The EPA’s lying thug, Alfredo Juan “Al” Armendarez.
- Under pressure of REALITY the EPA has since reversed its accusations in all 3 cases. The retractions have been soft-sold and relegated to back pages by a complicit media.
You will see the admission by the Obama-appointed Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the EPA that took place AFTER the truth came out:
While this prevaricator still says that fracturing “affects groundwater” – it in fact does not.
As I explained before, the areas where drilling for oil and gas takes place are where the shale is still buried by many thousands of feet of impermeable rock.
The part of the well that does pass through the water table (the blue zone in the diagram above) is encased in multiple layers of cement and steel casing and never comes under any pressure, anyway. This is done for every oil or gas well, regardless of production details.
You may remember a certain movie with a scene of flaming gasses from a water faucet. That has been proven to be a Fraud. They connected the kitchen stove gas line to the water plumbing to accomplish this “Effect”.
Anyone who tells you that fracturing is bad for the environment is lying to you.
They may be actively deceiving you or they may be merely repeating a lie they have been told. The motive behind the deception is to deny the United State an Energy Independence and Prosperity to be had by the development of this abundant resource.
Some think that “renewable resources” can replace oil and gas. I have researched that idea, as well. Please refer to “Changing Energy Use in the United States”.
Over The Road