The Fracking Wall

The “Fracking Wall”

In order for me to stay relevant in my chosen profession of software and database development, I must constantly self-educate in the evenings.  Since I’m already tired at the end of my “day job”, I try to find small projects of particular interest so that I may enjoy this process of self-education.  These small projects generally use open sources of information so that I can practice both the extraction, transformation, and loading (ETL) of data as well as its presentation to an end-user.  Enter into the picture: earthquakes.

Earthquakes provided an open source of information, e.g. the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), and an opportunity to plot their locations on a map using, e.g. Google Maps.  Mapping is one of my favorite programming activities and I enjoyed great success plotting earthquakes in a variety a ways using different modalities to do so.  Earthquakes were all well and fine, but I wished to blend them with other data.  Having read about earthquakes being associated with hydro-fracturing operations, I decided I would have a go at blending the data sets together: earthquakes coupled with the locations of oil or gas wells.

It was when I attempted to obtain well location information from governmental sources that I hit what I now call “the fracking wall.”  Stating it as such may seem less than objective, but as I’ve cited in the “Professional Background” page on this blog I have over three decades of experience with software, database, and end-user interface development and based upon this experience it is my objective opinion that a “fracking wall” does exist when it comes to obtaining data concerning hydro-fracturing wells, especially concerning well locations.

State after state provided little, if any, location-centric information.  Some, such as Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission, provided none.  Others, such as Texas, provided their location-centric information only in data sets available behind a “pay-wall.”  Still others, like Arkansas, provided location-centric information within Keyhole-Markup-Language (KML) files that needed special programming to extract the latitudes and longitudes from within.  Special programming I could do as I had the skill set, but not so for the more common non-programmer analyst.  State after state, organization after organization, frustration after frustration, led me to conclude that a “fracking wall” truly does exist.


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