Large-Sample Evidence on the Impact of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development on Surface Waters

Science Aug 2021: Vol. 373, Issue 6557, pp. 896-902, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2185

76 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2021 Last revised: 10 Dec 2021

See all articles by Pietro Bonetti

Pietro Bonetti

University of Navarra, IESE Business School

Christian Leuz

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Leibniz Institute SAFE; European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI); Center for Financial Studies (CFS); CESifo Research Network

Giovanna Michelon

University of Bristol

Date Written: August 20, 2021

Abstract

The impact of unconventional oil and gas development on water quality is a major environmental concern. We built a large, geo-coded database that combines surface water measurements with horizontally drilled wells stimulated by hydraulic fracturing (HF) for several shales to examine whether temporal and spatial well variation is associated with anomalous salt concentrations in U.S. watersheds. We analyzed four ions that could indicate water impact from unconventional development. We found very small concentration increases associated with new HF wells for barium, chloride and strontium, but not bromide. All ions showed larger, but still small-in-magnitude increases 91-180 days after well spudding. Our estimates were most pronounced for wells with larger amounts of produced water, wells located over high-salinity formations, and wells closer and likely upstream from water monitors.

Keywords: Hydraulic fracturing, fracking, water quality, contamination

Suggested Citation

Bonetti, Pietro and Leuz, Christian and Michelon, Giovanna, Large-Sample Evidence on the Impact of Unconventional Oil and Gas Development on Surface Waters (August 20, 2021). Science Aug 2021: Vol. 373, Issue 6557, pp. 896-902, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaz2185 , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3913356

Pietro Bonetti

University of Navarra, IESE Business School ( email )

Avenida Pearson 21
Barcelona, 08034
Spain

Christian Leuz (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/christian.leuz/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

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Leibniz Institute SAFE ( email )

(http://www.safe-frankfurt.de)
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Germany

European Corporate Governance Institute (ECGI)

Brussels
Belgium

HOME PAGE: http://www.ecgi.org

Center for Financial Studies (CFS) ( email )

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Germany

CESifo Research Network

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Munich, DE-81679
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Giovanna Michelon

University of Bristol ( email )

University of Bristol,
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Bristol, BS8 ITH
United Kingdom
BS8 1PQ (Fax)

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