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.
Part of the purpose of this blog is to attempt to diminish the existence of this “fracking wall.”