By: Wilma Subra, Louisiana Environmental Action Network &
Sharon Wilson, Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project
Videos by Sharon Wilson
Photos by Wilma Subra
Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) surveyed the Haynesville Shale Gas Activities in DeSoto, Caddo and Red River parishes in Northwest Louisiana in May 2016.
LEAN is a community base not-for-profit organization that has been working since 1986 to resolve the unique environmental struggles present in Louisiana. The mission of LEAN is to foster cooperation and communication between individual citizens and corporate and government organizations in an effort to assess and mend the environmental problems in Louisiana. Through education, empowerment, advocacy and support, LEAN provides the necessary tools and services to individuals and communities facing environmental problems. These problems often threaten communities health, safety and quality of life.
Earthworks was founded in 1988 and is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities and corporate accountability. Earthworks works for solutions that protect both the Earth’s resources and communities.
In 1999 the Oil and Gas Accountability Project was founded to work with people in rural, tribal and urban communities to protect their homes and environment from the devastating impacts of oil and gas development. In 2005, the two organizations joined forces.
The Haynesville Shale
The Haynesville Shale is a geologic sedimentary rock formation located more than 10,000 feet below the surface in the area of Northwest Louisiana, Southwest Arkansas and Eastern Texas. The Haynesville Shale development in Louisiana has occurred in Bienville, Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto, Natchitoches, Red River, Sabine, and Webster parishes.1
The Haynesville Shale ranges in thickness from 200 to 350 feet at production depths of 10,000 to 14,000 feet.2
The first natural gas wells targeting the Haynesville Shale were drilled in 2007 and 2008.3 As of May 30, 2016, there are 2,789 wells in the Louisiana portion of the Haynesville Shale. Production wells make up 2,536 while preproduction wells make up 253 wells.4
Estimates of the Haynesville recoverable natural gas resources are more than 245 trillion cubic feet. The discovery of the Haynesville Shale created an overwhelming supply of domestic, natural gas. Within three years of initial development, the Haynesville Shale became the largest producing onshore field in the United States.5
In 2012 the Haynesville formation produced 2.1 trillion cubic feet of gas and contributed 70% of the state of Louisiana total gas production.6 In 2016, only about 25% of the natural gas resources have been extracted from the Haynesville Shale.7
Regulatory Agencies with Jurisdiction Over Oil and Gas Drilling and Production
In Louisiana, the Department of Natural Resources, Office of Conservation and Mineral Resources is charged with conserving and regulating oil, gas and other hydrocarbons and lignite resources. The department permits oil and gas wells, inspects wells, declares units and permits waste treatment and disposal facilities.8
The Department of Environmental Quality regulates air emissions and waste water discharges associated with well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations, waste treatment and disposal facilities.9
Use of Ground Water Versus Surface Water for Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing in the Haynesville Shale
Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale formations requires millions of gallons of fresh water. The Commissioner of the Office of Conservation recommended that oil and gas operators in the Haynesville Shale in Northwest Louisiana choose their water sources for use in drilling or hydraulic fracture stimulation operations wisely.
In lower Caddo and Bossier Parishes and DeSoto Parish, the Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer is a low-yield aquifer system and is physically restricted. The Commissioner encouraged oil and gas operators to use the available surface water resources such as the Red River, Toledo Bend Reservoir or other lakes or bayous as a source of water for drilling and/or hydraulic fracturing.10
Segments of the Gas Industry
The gas shale industry consists of four phases with the release of toxic air emissions from each phase.
- Gas production consist of well drilling, hydraulic fracturing, well stimulation and well work over.
- Gas processing plants separate natural gas liquid and process the natural gas.
- Transmission and storage consist of pipelines, compressor stations, tank storage and underground storage of natural gas.
- Natural gas distribution consist of delivering natural gas to customers through low pressure pipelines.11
This study consists of examination of the gas production and processing phases as well as associated compressor stations.
Gas Well Production Sites
As of May 30, 2016, there are 2,536 producing wells in the Haynesville Shale in Louisiana.12 The gas well production sites in the Haynesville Shale area of Northwest Louisiana have general air permits issued by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
The gas production sites may consist of the following units:
- Gas well or wells on a pad
- Produced water storage tanks
- Condensate storage tanks
- Skim tanks
- Tank truck loading facilities
- Natural gas generator
The separators separate the liquid and gas phases. The liquid phase consists of condensate, produced water and flow back/ fluid, which is then separated into condensate phase and produced fluid phase.
The natural gas is shipped off the production site via pipeline. The condensate is shipped off site in tanker trucks. The produced water/flow back fluids are shipped off site in tanker trucks and the produced water is disposed of in injection wells. The flow back fluids are shipped off site in tanker trucks and either disposed of in injection wells or recycled for re-use in hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Permitted Air Emissions from Production Sites Under General Permit Conditions13
|Permitted Emissions||Emissions per
|Estimated Total Emissions
from 2,536 wells
|Parameter||Range (tons/year)||Range (tons/year)|
|PM10||0.03 – 0.08||76 – 203|
|NOx||0.88 – 4.34||2,232 – 11,006|
|CO||2.50 – 8.68||6,340 – 22,012|
|VOCs||7.06 – 24.04||17,904 – 60,965|
|Formaldehyde||0.06 – 0.171||152 – 434|
|Toluene||0.026 – 0.05||66 – 127|
|Xylene||0.026 – 0.05||20 – 134|
|n-Hexane||0.042 – 0.12||107 – 304|
1 Louisiana Department of Natural Resources web site, Haynesville Shale, What is Haynesville Shale all about?2 Louisiana Department of Natural Resources web site, Haynesville Shale Overview.
3 Kaiser, Mark J., Y Yu. December 2, 2013, Haynesville Update North Louisiana Gas Shale’s Drilling Decline, Oil and Gas Journal Volume III. issue 12.
4 Louisiana Office of Conservation web site, Haynesville Shale Gas Play Well Activity Map, May 30, 2016.
5 Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Haynesville Shale.
6 Kaiser, Mark J., Y Yu. December 2, 2013.Haynesville Update North Louisiana Gas Shale’s Drilling Decline, Oil and Gas Journal Volume III. issue 12.
7 Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, Haynesville Shale.
8 Louisiana Department of Natural Resources web site, Haynesville Shale, What is Haynesville Shale all about?
9 Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Air Quality and Waste Water Discharge Regulations, web page.
10 Louisiana Office of Conservation, Ground Water Use Advisory: Commissioner of Conservation Recommends Wise Water Use Planning in the Haynesville Shale, October 16, 2008.
11 Clean Air Task Force, Fossil Fumes, June 2016.
12 Louisiana Office of Conservation web site, Haynesville Shale Gas Play Well Activity Map, May 30, 2016.
13 Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, Air Permits, Hunt Plywood C No. 7, Frierson, DeSoto Parish, Petrohawk Operating Co., March 7, 2011, (La DEQ EDMS AI 164758), Hunt Plywood 4, Frierson, DeSoto Parish Petrohawk Operating Co., February 3, 2010, (AI 168109), Hunt Plywood No.1 Elm Grove, DeSoto Parish, Amoco Production Company (AI 31989).