Recently, the Fort Worth League of Neighborhood Associations (FWLNA), an umbrella organization for neighborhood associations, presented results from their study to the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD) Board of Directors regarding natural gas leasing near school property. Currently, the FWISD does not have any natural gas operations on school properties, but the district has been approached with lease options from operators.
As part of its research into whether to move forward with drilling sites, the FWISD asked Dr. Ken Morgan, a professor of geology and director of the TCU Energy Institute, and Dr. Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, to comment on the FWLNA study and findings.
The FWLNA study was based on an assertion that carbon disulfide near natural gas wells poses health risks. In his presentation to the FWISD board, Dr. Morgan pointed out that there are no sulfur compounds in Barnett Shale natural gas; therefore the presence of any sulfide is not associated with natural gas. He stated:
“We now have over 15,000 Barnett wells, and the great news is...you can’t smell it...because it isn't there, at least not in the natural gas. Check with any geochemist.” Dr. Morgan himself checked with an internationally known geochemist, Dr. Dan Jarvie, president of Worldwide Geochemistry in Houston, who confirmed the natural gas produced from the Barnett Shale is a very dry, virtually-pure natural gas. He said the gas could go straight to your home or even your natural gas car (at 80 cents a gallon) with no refining, no special treatment and no sulfur emissions. Dr. Morgan’s full notes can be found here.
Dr. Ireland also spoke to the board and addressed three issues that were raised in the FWLNA study. Dr. Ireland first showed that sulfur is not present in Barnett Shale natural gas and used the laboratory analyses of two natural gas wells near FWISD schools as examples. The gas analyses showed H2S, or sulfur, to be 0.00% of the natural gas.
Next, Dr. Ireland demonstrated why a one-mile setback, as recommended by the FWLNA, was unnecessary. He also cited a number of recent studies that have proven air emissions around natural gas sites are not a problem and, in fact, a setback of 330 feet has been shown to be protective of the public.
Finally, Dr. Ireland noted that the FWISD should not wait for natural gas prices to rise before signing mineral leases because once a unit is finalized, the opportunity to participate has expired. The full presentation made by Dr. Ireland may be accessed here.