Hydraulic Fracturing: Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking,” involves the injection of more than a million gallons of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure down and across into horizontally drilled wells as far as 10,000 feet below the surface. The pressurized mixture causes the rock layers to crack. These fissures are held open by the sand particles so that natural gas from the shale can flow up the well. (ProPublia Inc., 2012)
Hydraulic Fracturing By: Jason C Jones Geology 1000 Term 1 2013 Leon R. Geschwind
Oil well, Ranger, Texas (Photo credit: SMU Central University Libraries)
Back Ground Of Fracking• Stanolind Oil and Gas conducted the first experimental use of fracking in 1947; Halliburton completed the first commercial treatment two years later,though the current fracking technique was first used in the late 1990s in the Barnett Shale in Texas.• The primary differences between modern shale gas development and conventional natural gas development are the extensive uses of horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing. The use of horizontal drilling has not introduced any new environmental concerns.• Natural gas plays a key role in meeting U.S. energy demands. Natural gas, coal and oil supply about 85% of the nation’s energy, with natural gas supplying about 22% of the total. The percent contribution of natural gas to the U.S. energy supply is expected to remain fairly constant for the next 20 years.
How does “Fracking” help America?• By 2035 will produce 50% of U.S. Shale Gas produced due to fracking, an eight fold increase over the past decade.• Marcellus Shale located beneath West Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania could produce an estimated 493 trillion cubic feet of gas over its 50- to 100- year life span.• The Marcellus Shale in those three states will provide enough to power every natural gas—burning device in the country for more than 20 years.• Same techniques being used to extract oil, mainly from the Bakken shale in North Dakota.• In 2010, oil companies produced 5.5 million barrels per day of domestic crude. The EIA estimates that figure will rise to 6.7 million barrels per day by 2020• In 2005 and 2006, about 60 percent of the liquid fuel used in the United States was imported. By 2010, that share fell to 50 percent and continues to decline. The EIA expects it to drop to 37 percent by 2035.• Half of the natural gas consumed today is produced from wells drilled within the last 3.5 years
WHAT WAS ONCE A MAJOR PRODUCTION ISNOW A SMALL,UNOBTRUSIVE PIPE. PICTURETAKEN NEAR CROSS CREEK PARK, PA.Kirker, Korey. (2011, February 27)
Projected Monetary gains?• In 2011, the United States passed Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas• In 2011, the United States had the largest increase in oil production of any nation outside of OPEC.• The U.S. doesn’t have the capacity to export natural gas so it has to be absorbed within the U.S. domestic marketplace.• The implementation of Fracking will create thousands of job’s, direct and indirect.• In 2010 the fracking industry generated $76 billion in revenues, and put the U.S. on track to possibly become a gas exporter.
Benefits• Fracking can end the dependence on coal. What this means it that it will drastically reduce carbon emissions in the environment and improve the air quality as well as help to reverse the greenhouse effect.• Offers sustainability. Shale gas is considered the fourth largest resource in the world, yet it is virtually untapped because fracking is the only way to access it. When the gas becomes available, it will make it easier for many to get the energy they need without a lot of processing and without as much carbon emissions. Further, it will be a sustainable form of energy, unlike many other products that are currently being mined.• Helps other industries. As the fracking industry picks up, it will help steel and other industries because of the reduction process. This ensures that companies from all over the country and all over the globe will benefit from the fracturing that will take place.
Benefits Continued:• Restaurants, stores and other businesses in communities in and around areas where natural gas companies have set up hydraulic fracturing sites have experienced tremendous gains and as pointed out during a recent 60 Minutes broadcast, one community gained over 57,000 jobs.
Area’s currently affected.• We currently import 8% of our oil from Venezuela or 45% of our oil from the Middle East and North Africa.• The main States in the US that use Fracking to extract gas and oil are North Dakota, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Texas.• Canada has been extracting oil and gas using fracking techniques for the last 35 years.• New York currently has outlawed the use of Fracking but it is widely believed that they have a large source of natural gas and oil. Governor Andrew Cuomo from New York is currently considering allowing “Fracking” to occur within New York State despite the protests against it.
Concerns• Ground Water supply becoming contaminated.• Frequently the concrete well casings used in fracking fail, exposing potential toxins; according to Robert Kennedy, Jr.• A study conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health found that people living near fracking sites were more likely to be exposed to harmful air pollutants like benzene and toluene.
Types of chemicals used.• Water is the main component, making up around 94% of the mixture, and acts as the carrier fluid for the proppant, which is about 5- 6% of the makeup by volume.