Geological studies challenge New York fracking prospects

By Michelle Costanza

Geological studies challenge New York fracking prospects

February 1, 2014 Updated Feb 1, 2014 at 1:06 AM EDT

Vestal, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A public presentation gathered more than 100 people Friday night to take a look at a different approach to the hydraulic fracturing discussion.

The quest for productive natural gas drilling may not be as viable as originally believed, according to some fracking experts.

"There just isn't enough gas in New York to create a drilling boom, an economic boom, the number of new jobs," said former Executive Vice President of Mobil Oil Corp., Lou Allstadt.

Allstadt said the Department of Environmental Conservation "drastically overstated" the possible benefits and success of prospective gas wells north of the Pennsylvania border.

Geologist Brian Brock laid out his findings to Friday night's audience, talking about the impact of what is below the surface, and how each variable plays a role in gas availability.

The thickness of Marcellus Shale in conjunction with depth, thermal maturity and porosity -- to name a few -- are characteristics that come together perfectly in the tri-county region of Bradford, Wyoming and Suquehanna counties, Allstadt said.

The ideal combination of the variables that create this fracking "sweet spot" only exist in a limited space, he said, which makes New York fracking as "high risk, low reward," in the spotlight.

"There's not a whole lot of interest in New York state. You hear a lot of wishful thinking by some (drilling companies), but the people that are actually going to be making the investments don't seem to be all that interested," said Allstadt.

The forum was sponsored by the New York Public Interest Research Group, and supported by local organizations such as Citizen Action, The Sierra Club, and Vestal Residents for Safe Energy. Each of the supporting local groups are vocal opponents of gas drilling in New York state.

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