ACEH, INDONESIA -- Exxon-Mobil has a 60-billion-standard-cubic-foot-per-day facility near Aceh. In the span of four years the company extracts more than one cubic mile of natural gas from the formations beneath what has turned out to be the epicenter of the Aceh earthquake. The gas field there has been producing for much longer than four years, and is one of the largest such facilities in the world.
Scientists have known for some time that earthquakes in the order of 4.0 on the Richtor scale have been caused by oil drilling and other earth intrusive practices.
An analogous phenomena can be seen with earthquakes associated with large Hydro Dams. For example, Fontana Dam (USTVA North Carolina) has been associated with up to 4.0 earthquakes and routinely causes 2.5 quakes some fifty-plus years after construction.
Due to its much greater scale, and the presence of six geological faults in the area, the Three Gorges Dam in China will create very large earthquakes if its reservoirs are ever filled completely. According to Chinese news reports, tremors measuring 6.1 and 5.8 on the Richter scale hit the Zhangye region at 8:41 p.m. and 8:48 p.m. on Oct. 25, 2003.
Water was drained to safe levels over the next two days, and the China Daily reported that the dams were structurally compromised: "Cracks five centimetres wide had opened in the walls of the Shuangshuzhi reservoir, while the Zhaizhaizi reservoir had developed a fissure one centimetre wide and 410 metres long", the newspaper reported.
The weight of water overlying an unstable geological formation or fault exerts incredible pressure to which the rock layers inevitably yield. Therefore it is legitimate to ask, "What role did the extraction of oil and gas from the immediate area play in the 9.0 Aceh earthquake on Dec. 26, 2004?"
World oil production alone (not including natural gas) is approximately 80 to 100 million barrels of oil per day. That is a tremendous volume of oil, too large to even visualize in your mind’s eye, which is being extracted EVERY DAY.
The world’s oilfields are pressurized naturally by natural-gas within the oil. We've all probably seen "oil gushers" on films involving oil discovery: oil shoots high into the air as it is forced out of the ground by the natural-gas pressure in the underground oilfield.
The oil is not only pressurized, but is also hot. As it is extracted, the pressure gradually decreases until the oil well is no longer pressurized. Comparable to an empty aerosol can that still has some liquid in it, but which is no longer expelled by depressing the spout, the gas pressure decreases to the point where the drilling company needs to burn energy for pumping. Thus it becomes less profitable to extract the oil.
In some cases, in order to extract the remaining oil, cold water is injected/pumped into the well, causing the oil to float on top of the injected water. As the oil well fills with cold water, the last remaining oil which floats up on top of it is forced up through the well head to the surface, until the well is "dry" – i.e. "empty", but not literally "dry" since it is now filled with water.
During these various stages of the oil-extraction process, the outer crust of the globe is gradually being depressurized and cooled internally, causing contraction for both of these reasons. When objects cool down they automatically shrink/contract in size. If you let high-pressure air or gas out of a cylinder ice forms around the outlet, and cools the entire cylinder. If you let some of the air out of a football, or basketball, the ball shrinks and goes badly out of shape.
Apply that to the Earth and you have earthquakes as the crustal layers shift in response to the loss of pressure from below while the water pressure above increases. This is simple common sense –- not rocket science. It is a fact so simple that anyone who understands the oil-extraction process would understand the effects. Or at least, they should understand.
Therefore, the people doing this oil extraction should know the risk of triggering earthquakes, even if they ignore the consequences of rapidly dropping the underground pressure -- as the financial gurus and oil executives apparently regularly do.
Should these executives and decision-makers, who are also the profit-makers, be required to accept liability for the consequences?
Another obvious fact that is never quoted in relation to global warming is that internal combustion engines do not just give off greenhouse gases, they also give off tremendous heat – every single one of them. If you try putting your hand near the cooling-radiator or exhaust manifold of a running engine, you are going to snatch it away again quickly to prevent burns. The professors never factor this into the global-warming equations, and never mention it in the news. They mention only the gas emissions.
Think about the millions of engines giving off tremendous heat every day, some all day every day. Compound this on top of the greenhouse gases and you can see why the scientists' and professors' prognostications have turned out to be wrong. The ice caps are melting much faster than the "experts" first predicted, and faster than they are still wrongly predicting now. What pressures does this shift in weight from the poles place on the planet?
If oil is continually being created deep in the earth, as some theorists argue, what happens when this new oil rises into a former oil deposit that is now filled with water? Will this also result in further earthquakes as pressure builds up with gas being forced into the same space?
To connect the dots, therefore, we have to link the rapid “harvesting” of subterranean and undersea oil, and the reason for doing so – the thirsty tanks of obsolete gas-guzzling vehicles – with the consequence of earthquakes and tsunamis. Not only in Asia, but also around the world, are many oilfields with rapidly dropping pressure, into which water is being pumped to extract the last expensive barrels. How many more disastrous quakes will humanity face as the result of this artificially-maintained appetite for fuel?
Whether or not the oil/gas extraction from the Aceh area was indeed the single tripping factor will need to be determined by those with the instrumentation and access to the data necessary to draw a definitive conclusion. But what can be said definitively is that these man-made intrusions do place stress on the earth and that stress is answered by an increase in the frequency of occurrence of earthquakes.