Technical, Regulatory and Public Policy Issues
Hydrofracking Shale for New Energy
and Chemicals Used
• A combination of hydraulic pressure and granular “proppants” are used to
open fractures and hold them open with sand grains or synthetic spheres.
This is called hydrofracking.
• Producing natural gas from deep and tight formations is made possible or
enhanced by increasing the effective porosity along the borehole gas
• Fracking has been long used to improve the yield of oil, gas and water
wells tapping consolidated (bedrock) formations. Before hydrofracking,
explosives were often used to “frack” wells.
• Fracking equipment typically operates up to 15,000 psi at flow rates up to
9.4 ft3/sec to inject a mixture of water, suspended proppant and additives
to improve the fracking performance.
• Each drilling operation or “pad” must maintain a supply of water,
proppant and additives in addition to the myriad drilling liquid storage and
• Drill pad occupies approximately 5-6 acres that must be cleared and
graded, access roads must be cut and trees / vegetation removed.
• Supplies of fresh water up to 4-6 mgd are required during drilling.
• Large volumes of process water and waste-water must be stored
onsite and protected from spills.
• Fuel (mainly diesel) must be stored onsite to power drilling rigs and
• Runoff must be controlled so that precipitation, process water,
waste-water and spills of chemicals and/or fuels do not leave the
• Offsite receptors must be protected from air emissions, including
odors and noise from drilling and support equipment/vehicles.
• Potential releases of natural gas could present immediate fire or
explosion hazards in addition to adding greenhouse gas to the
Aerial View of a Typical Drilling Pad
Drill Rig Mast with Drill Pipe in Racks
• Acids – hydrochloric acid (usually 28%-5
• Sodium chloride (salt)
• Polyacrylamide and other friction reducers
• Ethylene glycol
• Borate salts
• Sodium and potassium carbonates
• Guar gum and other water-soluble gelling agents
• Citric acid – used in corrosion prevention
• Isopropanol – increases the viscosity of the fracture fluid
Frack Water Chemical Additives
• Fracking water with chemical additives and proppants must be stored
onsite and handled so as to prevent releases.
• The integrity of well casings and seals must be sufficient to prevent
release of fracking fluid outside the desired depth.
• The location and depth of other formation penetrations (oil wells, gas
wells, abandoned wells and test drilling sites) must be known so that
cross-hole fluid leakage can be prevented.
• Flowback water must be controlled to prevent spills and discharges to
Control of Hydrofracking Fluids
• Recycling of flowback water should be maximized if feasible to reduce
water resource impacts.
• Flowback water onsite storage and treatment must meet applicable spill-
prevention and containment BMPs.
Control of Hydrofracking Fluids
Vertical Well Hydrofracking
Horizontal Well Hydrofracking
Geologic Cross-Section A
Well-head “Christmas Tree”
Lined Pond, Frack Tanks, and Flare
• There is a two-fold demand for natural gas development in New York
State: (1) a need for new, economical and clean(er) energy and (2) a
desperate need for jobs, especially in economically depressed upstate.
• Much of the opposition is ideological and comes from outside the
potential gas fields.
• Environmental disasters cited by opponents are virtually all unrelated to
modern drilling and hydrofracking.
• Opponents are often funded by competing energy producers and a
fictional motion picture depicting such a disaster was funded by a
Canadian petroleum producer
Opposition to Gas Development