FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS IOGAWV?
Formed in 1959, the Independent Oil and Gas Association of West Virginia, Inc. is a statewide non-profit trade association representing companies engaged in the extraction and production of natural gas and oil in West Virginia, and the companies and individuals which support extraction activities. IOGAWV was formed to promote and protect a strong, competitive and capable independent natural gas and oil producing industry in West Virginia.
WHY IS NATURAL GAS CONSIDERED A CLEAN FUEL?
Natural gas is considered the cleanest fossil fuel because it produces emissions much lower than those of other fossil fuels. Natural gas is efficient, with 92 percent of natural gas produced being delivered to customers as usable energy; on an energy equivalent basis, natural gas emits 45 percent less C02 than coal and 27 percent less CO2 than oil, making it the best fossil fuel source available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
IS NATURAL GAS A DOMESTIC ENERGY SOURCE?
Natural gas is primarily a domestic energy source. In 2010, 88 percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States was produced in the U.S. The remaining supply came from Canada (10.5 percent), with 1.5 percent imported as liquefied natural gas (LNG).
HOW MUCH NATURAL GAS IS USED IN THE UNITED STATES FOR ELECTRICITY?
Because of its efficiency and environmental benefits, the use of natural gas to generate electricity has increased dramatically during the past 11 years—of the more than 240 gigawatts of net summer electric generation capacity added since 1999, over 87 percent has been fueled with natural gas. Natural gas currently generates approximately 23 percent of total U.S. electricity.
WHAT IS NATURAL GAS USED FOR?
Natural gas serves approximately 65 million homes; 5 million businesses like hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and supermarkets; 207,000 factories; and 1,800 electric generating units. On a daily basis, the average U.S. home uses more than 200 cubic feet of natural gas.
WHAT ARE SOME OTHER USES FOR NATURAL GAS?
Natural gas, as it comes out of the ground, may contain several different hydrocarbon components that can be separated from the gas stream at a gas processing or “stripping” plant. Commonly at the stripping plants, propane, butane, raw gasoline and sometimes ethane or other heavier hydrocarbons are removed, which are then available for a multitude of industrial and consumer uses. Natural gas also is a vital ingredient for the production of many alternative and renewable energy sources. It is used to manufacture lightweight steel for fuel-efficient cars and trucks, to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, and as a component of windmill blades for wind energy and to grow the corn needed for ethanol.
HOW MUCH NATURAL GAS IS THERE?
The domestic natural gas resource base is large, estimated to be 2,074 trillion cubic feet, enough to meet current U.S. consumption for another 100 years. According to Dr. Sam Ameri from West Virginia University, there are over 100 trillion cubic feet in West Virginia alone.
IS THE TRANSPORTATION OF NATURAL GAS SAFE?
There are nearly 2.4 million miles of pipeline of varying sizes and pressures that transport natural gas from the wellhead to 70 million industrial, commercial and residential customers throughout the U.S. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, pipelines are the safest form of energy transportation—safer than transportation by truck or rail.
HOW MANY JOBS HAVE BEEN CREATED IN WEST VIRGINIA BECAUSE OF THE NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY?
The natural gas industry is one of West Virginia’s leading employers of local workers. Currently, the industry makes it possible for 35,000 West Virginia jobs. The industry directly pays yearly salaries of nearly $760 million, with the average yearly wage for the industry being $60,000. With the development of the Marcellus formation, there is the potential for 7,000 new West Virginia jobs. Natural gas is one of the few industries in West Virginia ready to hire West Virginians today.
HOW DOES THE PRODUCTION OF NATURAL GAS BENEFIT THE STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA ECONOMICALLY?
Currently, 53 of West Virginia’s 55 counties have natural gas production operations. The natural gas industry in West Virginia is one of the leading growth industries in our state. The development of those wells leads to over $70 million a year in severance taxes and well over $100 million a year in property taxes, from which all West Virginia counties benefit. This money goes directly into our local communities and helps fund our public school systems. During the last year, the natural gas industry spent over $770 million in new capital investments. In addition, the industry put millions back into local county economies through buying supplies, eating at restaurants, staying in hotels, purchasing gasoline and shopping in our local communities.
WHAT IS HYDRAULIC FRACTURING?
Put simply, hydraulic fracturing is a technology used to stimulate the flow of energy from new and existing oil and gas wells. Hydraulic fracturing was first commercially employed in 1948. The well is lined with cemented steel casing. By creating or even restoring millimeter-thick fissures, the surface area of a formation exposed to the borehole increases and the fracture provides a conductive path that connects the reservoir to the well. These new paths increase the rate that fluids can be produced from the reservoir formations.
WHY IS HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IMPORTANT?
Hydraulic fracturing is an environmentally responsible way to make the most of our American energy resources, while limiting disturbance to our environment. Without it, wells that would have run dry years ago, or which never would have been productive in the first place, are made viable. Experts believe 60 to 80 percent of all wells drilled in the United States in the next ten years will require fracturing to remain in operation.
WHAT EXACTLY ARE FRACTURING FLUIDS MADE OF?
The main ingredient in fracturing fluid is water. Pure water makes up 99.5 percent of the fluid mixture. Other ingredients each serve a critical purpose in the fracturing process. Sand keeps fractures open, allowing oil or natural gas to reach the well and rise to the surface for collection. Water alone is not the most effective carrier of sand, so the mixture must be made more viscous or gel-like. The most common material used to gel the water is guar, which is made from guar beans (and which you will likely find in many of your favorite processed foods). In addition, nitrogen gas may be added to foam the mixture for better transport down the well. To help in the recovery process, an enzyme or oxidizer breaks the fluid back down from its gelled state to a more liquid state so it can be collected. Other ingredients in fracturing fluid could affect your health—if you were exposed to them in excessive quantities. However, the concentration of these elements during the hydraulic fracturing process is far below the levels necessary to pose a threat
WHAT STEPS ARE TAKEN DURING WELL CONSTRUCTION TO PROTECT DRINKING WATER?
Well construction processes are designed to ensure maximum protection of the water supply and nearby ecosystems. Each well is lined with steel pipe casing that extends below the depth of any shallow aquifers and below an impervious layer of rock that would prevent any migration of fluids up into the drinking water supply. Production casing is used at depths below the surface casing, keeping any fluids or other material in the well bore from entering the surrounding rock formations. To further ensure the protection of the surface water aquifers, state regulation requires a protective cement shield to be installed outside of the pipe to prevent any accidental migration of fluids or gases into the water bearing zones.
HAS HYDRAULIC FRACTURING EVER CAUSED CONTAMINATION OF DRINKING WATER?
No. There has never been a documented instance of water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing. The engineering practices perfected over the last 60 years, as well as effective state regulation, ensures the integrity of the water supply and the environment. Both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ground Water Protection Council have released extensive studies declaring the practice safe and the fluids non threatening.
WHAT IS THE JUST BENEATH THE SURFACE ALLIANCE?
The “Just Beneath the Surface” alliance is supported by IOGAWV and will provide the public with facts, debunk false information and offer an in-depth look into our industry. It is our goal to provide a source of factual information and two-way communication on the subjects of economic benefits, environmental standards, and regulations, safety and the future of energy in West Virginia. .