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back to article Now it gets serious: Fracking could RUIN BEER

The extraction of oil and gas by means of hydraulic fracturing – aka "fracking" – has ignited a firestorm of controvery over its possible risks, but a new report hands a powerful weapon to its opponents: fracking may harm German beer. The Telegraph reports that the German brewers' association Brauer-Bund has warned Chancellor …

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Holmes

oh

Fracking hell...

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Pint

Re: oh

Fracking hell, fracking dunkel, fracking weizen, fracking Kölsch: it'sall fracked if this goes ahead

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FAIL

So the beer makers are so worried about the water quality deteriorating that they might have to install water quality analyzers at extra cost. You get the impression that they just use the pure water as is straight from the ground. As if. They will already have tons of kit filtering and cleaning the water so whatever fracking might do will have no bearing on the water the beer makers use. Plus most water will not have come from thousands of feet below the ground where fracking takes place.

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yeah, let's destroy our clean water supply for some quick fracking money

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Why wouldn't they use the water straight from the ground? It's often as clean if not cleaner than the average municipal supply. It isn't like they are using surface water that is probably contaminated with e. coli, giardia or something else. Wells often tap into confined underground aquifers hundreds of feet deep and industrial water wells may easily reach thousands of feet and penetrate aquifers in bedrock and the water well itself may be fracked to provide greater output. Of all the confined and artesian wells my friends and family have had over the years only one had more than 150 ppm total dissolved solids and that was a result of it being in a limestone deposit. It has only been the shallow or dug wells that get much turbidity. I wouldn't be surprised if the breweries weren't located where they are as a result of an easily accessible artesian water source.

Fracking a gas well is usually done on an existing well after is has had some horizontal drilling. It may be an old well with a considerable straight depth to the main shaft but the horizontal run may start only part way down and might not be as deep as you think. If done right both types of well can coexist but it only takes one yahoo to not pay attention and ruin either industry for an area.

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Considering the fact that some of the character of a decent ale, beer or whiskey comes from the water used to produce it I think you'll find that the better ones are reliant on a clean, natural source that isn't heavily filtered to retain the same flavour. OK, so where I am the local brewery Burtonises the water as they prefer the taste produced but the majority of the others don't.

As others have pointed out, the breweries will most likely have been placed there in the first instance because of the water source and yes, that tends be quite a ways below the ground.

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Thumb Up

"Why wouldn't they use the water straight from the ground? It's often as clean if not cleaner than the average municipal supply. "

The standards for European drinking water are now so tight that it is increasingly uncommon that we can use borehole water without some form of treatment. For example, quite a few boreholes in Warwickshire in England were used for decades until they fell foul of new EU arsenic limits, others on manganese, and across much of the entire country on nitrates. Despite having been used for donkeys years we had to either blend the water from different sources to reduce specific "contaminants" to below the EU limit, install expensive treatment plant, or abandon the boreholes. It cost money, but technically meeting the new standards wasn't a problem.

I worked in the water industry doing capital programme management for ten years or so, and there's no reason why fracking would threaten water extraction and treatment. Certainly the frackers should pay for any additional monitoring, and be held liable for any additional treatment needed, but the water industry can turn just about anything into safe drinking water, so in the highly unlikely worst case, they see their profits drop a bit, and the water industry have to do a bit more treatment at the frackers expense.

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Exactly so

If their beer has to be comprised of ONLY H2O then they are already well in breach of their own regulations, cos what comes out of the ground or down the stream is TEEMING with dissolved chemicals.

Sodium calcium and magnesium carbonates, probably not a few sulphates of the above metals. Plus iron oxides.

If its peaty steam probably a fair mixture of organics as well.

Fracking is generally well (sic!) below the water table anyway.

Which leads to the inevitable conclusion that this is nothing to do with beer, water quality or anything but a naked commercial interest in ensuring that only the filthiest water polluting lignite is used in conjunction with the disastrous whirlygigs and solar panels to destroy the German economy.

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Childcatcher

Water water everywhere but ne'r a drop to drink.

I seems a bit obvious but water in Germany is not like the UK. Nor is the brewing industry. Aside from the big boys every town has it's own brewery or two and there are many pub brewers (this long before the advent of micro-breweries in the UK).

Sorry. The water. The flat part of Germany and most of Holland is on a sand bed. In many places water is taken from this top layer of sand and this is why you will find "Wassershutsgebeit" (water protection area) all over the place. There are severe penalties for spilling polluting materials in these zones. In places the sand lays over brown coal and carbon dioxide from the slow oxidation of this dissolves in the water making it acidic. This in turn dissolves other minerals into the water; so bad in places it will eat though copper pipe. In general the water quality is poor and tastes so bad that most people drink bottled water.

However fracking takes place at great depth so I do not see how fracking chemicals could get into the normal water supplies taken from shallow wells. There might be very small quantities of methane but in comparison to what is already in the water is this a problem?

There might be more of a problem with deeper wells but is this realistic. Wells are cut into porous deposits which will pass water. Shale is compressed clay (or the other way round?) and aside from any cracking in it does not easily pass water.; it is not the natural place you would put a water well. If the fracking increases the porosity of the shale does this matter? There should be no wells in the vicinity so I think the answer is no.

The question is whether there a problem with fracking, whilst there might be some local issues (there are always exceptions) there should be sufficient distance between the fracking and the water wells to safeguard supplies. The rest is hysteria.

Sorry for being serious for once.

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Kuwait Is Not Sinking

At one point in time learned people were convinced that pumping vast amounts of oil out of the Earth would cause the ground to sink and possibly increase the speed of continental drift. They were wrong...

Fracking has to be managed certainly, but I think the biggest problem with the whole thing is the extremely arrogant way the industry has approached the issue. They just march in and steamroll over objections or just patronize people. They could save themselves a lot of trouble if they didn't send a bunch of knobs to do a diplomats job. Plus the term 'fracking' is just terrible marketing, the name is awfully easy to make sound evil.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking, but Houston, Tx is

This has been known for many years in Texas.

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Meh

Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking

" They just march in and steamroll over objections or just patronize people."

I think you should qualify that with "in America."

Because it was dear ol' Shrub that specifically put in exemptions in the Clean Air and Clean Water acts to allow them to stick it more or less anywhere and pump whatever they wanted down it to open up the pores.

A big thank you to his old oil buddies for their solid (gold) support.

In other countries operators have to be abide by somewhat tighter regulations.

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Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking, but Houston, Tx is

yes Khaleesi, this is known. You know nothing Don.

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Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking, but Houston, Tx is

And the reason that Houston is sinking primarily lies not with oil and gas extraction, but rather with water extraction of the main water aquifer that the area depends on for their water supply. Source is as follows:

http://www.texasalmanac.com/topics/environment/aquifers-texas

- Look under the Gulf Coast Aquifer header where this is stated.

And in my experience working in the oilfield, "fracking" is usually done on formations wayyyy deeper than any formation that contains potable water. I'm not saying that care and sound engineering decisions shouldn't be made when fracking a well, but it can and is done safely all the time offshore where I primarily work at.

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Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking, but Houston, Tx is

I'd like to know what company this is that has a %100 record of nothing going wrong on a well site? Maybe you mean 99.9% safety record which still be around 1500 incidents a year in the U.S. The incident rate of contamination is very low, but at lest in the U.S. there is a large lobby that pays senators to lie and say it doesn't happen.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/top-10-myths-about-natural-gas-drilling-6386593#slide-4

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Holmes

Re: Kuwait Is Not Sinking, but Houston, Tx is

So is Groningen with the removal of gas from the Dutch gas fields

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Anonymous Coward

Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

Yeah. Like it sez. In a contest between a pint of well-kept Abbot vs. NFGU, there is no contest.

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Pint

Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

Try going to the Munich Oktoberfest and saying that...

Been there twice now - Fosters it ain't.

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Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

Most english larger and US mass produced Lager is indeed junk. Most of the German stuff is some of the best non proper beer in the world. Its well worth preserving.

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Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

On behalf of my antipode brethren, I offer my apologies for Fosters

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Pint

Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

The ghastly fizz masquerading as lager sold in pubs and clubs is made deliberately tasteless in order to not frighten the children who drink it.

Real lager is truly delightful, bettered only by real beer.

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Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

Mutzig Old Lager is pretty good.

I normally just drink Chimay / Westmalle

(Dunno whether it is beer or not it is bier. People call real Ale stuff that has hops.)

Bitter and Lager is at least somewhat unambiguously defined.

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Childcatcher

Re: Lager is near frozen gnats urine. It is NOT beer

Altbier is not lager. Oh no!

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Meh

True, brewmeisters have filtration equipment installed,

but why should the onus be on them? Why are the freaking frackers given carte blanche to come in to an area, pull millions of gallons of precious drinking water, dump their chemical cocktails into it, do dawg- knows- what with it, then dump it back into the ground where it wreaks havoc with the water table? Honestly, if the frackers want to play ball in our yard, they need to leave things in as-was or better condition and this means pulling all their junk out of the water before putting it back underground. Furthermore, the chemical cocktail recipes are apparently considered "trade secrets" so we the people don't know what kind of filtration we need to install (either as individuals on wells or operators of municipal water systems), it just boggles the mind that this is allowed to happen. Having another source of domestically produced fuel certainly has a lot of advantages (I'm not against fracking, per se) but the lack of even basic safeguards for how it's done is staggeringly short-sighted.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: True, brewmeisters have filtration equipment installed,

Hydrochloric acid is a common fracing component. And as we all know HCL is perfectly safe for human to ingest, we already have that in our stomachs. And we all do love fish and chips smothered in vinegar to top up our own natural supply. What would be more natural than getting it through our water supply as well ? (to help dissolve our teeth)

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Unhappy

Re: True, brewmeisters have filtration equipment installed,

"but why should the onus be on them? Why are the freaking frackers given carte blanche to come in to an area,"

Because in Europe they are not.

Not everywhere is America.

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Facepalm

Re: True, brewmeisters have filtration equipment installed,

Vinegar is ACETIC acid. Try topping up your natural supply of HCl without burning your oesophagus*. For more fun, you can simulate an asthma attack by holding the open end of the vinegar bottle in your mouth and inhaling deeply.

*Random factoid: the profuse dribbling you get just before you puke is meant to protect your oesophagus and gob against that by layering on extra mucus.

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Alien

Gut Helmut!

produced over 15.6 million hectoliters (3.3 billion pints) of Bier

I think we need a Boltzmann Liver, suddenly appearing mysteriously in empty space (because quantum fluctuations make it so it MUST appear from time to time in any point of an universe that is old and large enough) just to process all that!

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Coat

losing the weiss beer is no loss,

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She needs to visit Colorado

...and visit with the Gov. He recently drank "fracking" fluid to prove it is safe. In the US, not a single well has polluted ground water, and the methods used now are far safer (thicker and more layers of casing) than those used for the previous decades. I'd be far more concerned about leaking fuel tanks at the local gas station polluting ground water, than these gas and oil wells.

This is just FUD - aimed at the beer drinking public.

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Re: She needs to visit Colorado

No, no contamination at all. Tap water catches fire all the frickin' time!

http://www.propublica.org/article/years-after-evidence-of-fracking-contamination-epa-to-supply-drinking-water

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Re: She needs to visit Colorado

Oh, yeah! Let's all go an drink some diesel! After fracking companies insisted that they no longer used diesel, a known carcinogen, fracking fluid sampled was found to contain diesel. When I see the CEOs of fracking companies drinking fracking fluids every day, I'll believe it's safe.

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Paris Hilton

Re: She needs to visit Colorado

So how about the rumor that there was Worcester Sauce in fracking fluid samples?

Seriously though, why you want to put diesel into liquids meant to fracture hydrocarbon-bearing materials?

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Boffin

Re: She needs to visit Colorado

Is that supposed to be a convincing argument?

How much did he drink? Does he plan to drink a full glass every day for years, to simulate the effects on the people actually affected by it? Did he have the contents of the fracking liquid analyzed so his doctor could advise him on the relative safety of even a single drink?

Nah. He just drank it like an idiot.

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Pint

Maybe the water down in Bavaria is still good, where I lived we were warned not to drink out of the tap because of the mercury levels, so I don't know what all this purity clap-trap is all about.

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Unhappy

Germans, Beer, Purity

This could end very badly.

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Pint

Re: Germans, Beer, Purity

"Fracking liquids, Mandrake! Fracking liquids in childrens' beer pitchers!"

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g e
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Pint

Phew, glad I drink the Czech stuff

Budvar, Staropramen, Gambrinus, Koxzel, Urquell FTW!

(Oh and the odd Hoegaarden if I'm having a more Belgian moment)

This round's on me! :oP

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Phew, glad I drink the Czech stuff

"(Oh and the odd Hoegaarden if I'm having a more Belgian moment)"

But is it made from real Hoes?

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Mushroom

Another option...

...would be to decrease dependence on gas by increasing their nuclear cap....oh...wait!

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Fracking needs to be fully controlled

The oil industry does whatever it feels like unless monitored 24/7. Laws mean nothing to most oil companies so governments may need to limit exactly where oil companies can and can not use fracking. At the insane prices being charged for crude oil products, i.e. blackmail, there is no need to allow the oil Cabal to ruin the natural water supply.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

> Laws mean nothing to most oil companies

What the hell does that even mean?

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

He's saying large multinationals (like oil companies) have some leeway to get above the law. You want to scare a government? Threaten to move your wells out of that country. Bye bye big-time tax revenues.

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@destroy all monsters

Well essentially now it means that if you are an oil company you are "to big to fail". The same happened, for example, with the German phone company. They used their call records in order to spy on journalists so they could catch a whistleblower.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

Threaten to move your wells out of that country.

Government says "fine. Fuck off, don't come back." Sets up its own wells.

Governments might be notorious for not running efficient businesses, but I reckon even they could turn a profit on Black Gold.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

Not without the specialized equipment and trained experts that went WITH THE OIL COMPANIES they won't.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

"He's saying large multinationals (like oil companies) have some leeway to get above the law."

No, they might have friends in high places in some countries where political contributions substitute for bribes but in others they are just as likely to find themselves being told that the industry is to be nationalized and they are free to leave their investment behind as they leave. The companies with leeway are the many oil companies who are the government. Consider that globally, national oil companies control nearly 90% of all reserves and some contract with the international oil companies like Exxon-Mobil and BP to handle certain aspects of production since contracting winds up being cheaper than building extra infrastructure or shifts much of the risk of a project (or blame should something go wrong) on to a private entity.

Of course it also seems there has been an increase in 'tweens that are offshoots of national companies, joint ventures or quasi-public moves where national companies sell shares of stock. As examples; Saudi Aramco, Petronas & CNOOC are all national oil companies. Gazprom, Statoil & PetroChina are 'tweens inasmuch as they are public companies with either majority government ownership or under government control.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled @Charles 9

"Not without the specialized equipment and trained experts that went WITH THE OIL COMPANIES they won't."

Easy, the government just nationalizes it. See Mexico's PEMEX, Iran's State Oil thingy, more recently Venezuela did something like that.

Given enough resources, governments can and will take over all operations, which is why oil companies shouldn't piss off the gov't.

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Re: Fracking needs to be fully controlled

Not without the specialized equipment and trained experts that went WITH THE OIL COMPANIES they won't.

The trained experts that will work for whoever pays them, you mean? Look at the economic climate. I reckon there's a few of these experts looking for jobs right now. Drilling and refining equipment can be bought.

Do you think that the country's energy supply is not a national security issue?

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