Fracking has been safely used in the United States since 1947. More than 1.7 million U.S. wells have been completed using the fracking process, producing more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. In the last decade, the amounts of Natural Gas Drill Holes has doubled. With most of the attention being focused on the negatives that Fracking will have on the environment, What are some of the positive effects of fracking?
- Increase U.S. production of Natural Gas & Oil
- Create Jobs
- Lower energy prices
- Strengthen energy security
- Lower air pollution & carbon dioxide emissions by reducing the use of Coal & Oil
- Affect health in the U.S.
- Reduce the imports of foreign oil
- Make the US Money by Exporting Natural Gas
Imagine a world where the Middle East doesn’t set prices for barrels of oil that we depend on to run our weed whackers, cars, and heat our houses, offices, and schools. Maybe it’s not a dream!
Hydraulic Fracking Process
- Hydraulic Fracturing or as its commonly known Fracking is a drilling technology that is decades old that extracts Natural Gas and Oil from deep shale formation under the ground. This technology now incorporates Horizontal drilling.
- After the fracking well is fully drilled and encased, fracking fluid is pumped down into the well at extremely high pressure, in some cases exceeding 9,000 pounds per square inch. The pressure from this fluid is powerful enough to fracture the surrounding rock, creating fissures and cracks through which oil and gas can flow.
- The fluid that is pumped into the well to fracture the rock is called slickwater. It is mostly water, though it also can contain a wide range of additives and chemicals that serve an engineering purpose. Additives can include detergents, salts, acids, alcohols, lubricants, and disinfectants.
Fracking has been safely used in the United States since 1947. More than 1.7 million U.S. wells have been completed using the fracking process, producing more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Fracking Wells are very deep and can be several thousands of feet in the ground before the Natural Gas is found and taken out. Once the gas is found the drill takes a lateral turn to empty the shale layer to remove the gas which is processed just as oil would be that is drilled and removed from deep in the ground. The Drill Sites are monitored by Government Agencies.
The head of the International Energy Agency said the shale revolution has made the U.S. the world’s “undisputed” oil and natural gas leader, as he visited Capitol Hill recently to discuss how the world energy system is changing.
“What we see is a result of the shale revolution,” International Energy Agency chief Fatih Birol told the Senate Energy and Resources Committee. “The U.S. is becoming the undisputed leader of oil and gas production worldwide. Oil production is growing very strongly and will continue to grow,” Birol said. “We think that this growth is unprecedented,” both in the “size of the growth and the pace of the growth.”
Government Agencies have found that the oil and natural gas industry supports 10.3 million jobs in the U.S. a 500,000 increase since 2011 and projects the industry will support an additional 1.9 million jobs by 2035. Most of all benefits that places like China will be our largest importer for many years to come.
2016 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study concluded that, “Hydraulic fracturing operations are unlikely to generate sufficient pressure to drive fluids into shallow drinking water zones.” The EPA reached this conclusion even after expanding the definition of fracking to include a wide range of other oilfield activities, demonstrating the safety of the entire development process.
As you read on, you can see that Fracking has problems that are environmentally unsound and need a whole lot of attention of the industry to be focused on especially for the future.
Where does Fracking Occur
Fracking is an American success story that has provided immense opportunities for our nation. Unlocking America’s abundant natural resources Natural Gas, fracking has created millions of American jobs, reduced energy prices, brought cleaner air by significantly reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 25-year-lows, strengthened our national security, and made America a competing global energy superpower. In 2000, there were about 276,000 natural gas wells in the United States. But by 2010, that number had almost doubled to 510,000, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
The parts of the US where fracking is most profitable include the Great Plains from Canada south into Texas, the Great Lakes region, and an area known as the Marcellus Shale, which reaches from central New York into Ohio and south to Virginia, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). I live in Pennsylvania where there is a lot of drilling going on. People here are for or against it because it’s in our own backyard but there are benefits for companies from out of state to come in and put people to work.
How Does Hydraulic Fracturing Work
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, our need for energy has increased dramatically. The use of fossil fuels like coal or natural gas has created a demand for new easier ways to fill this demand as the need increased over the years. One of these ways is called Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking. Fracking recovers Natural Gas from deep in the earth. This process uses water sand and other chemicals to release this Natural Gas that is inside a porous rock.
The process of Fracking has been around since the 1940s but in the last decade, Fracking has been a popular idea that seems its time has come. This is because most other process used to collect Natural Gas here and in Europe has been exhausted. Just like other forms of energy the ways to harvest it have become less expensive and the demand is higher making it more profitable. Over 60% of new Oil and Gas Wells have used Fracking. How is Fracking done?
1st– a shaft is drilled several hundred feet into the earth once at this point a horizontal hole travels into the Gas bearing rock
2nd– A high-pressure fluid is pumped into the rock that contains the Natural Gas. On average the fluid contains around 8 million gallons of water. This water contains several tons of sand and 2,000 liters of chemicals that are used in the process. This mixture causes numerous cracks that move through the rock. The sand in the fluid prevents the cracks in the rock from closing again. The chemical performs different jobs like compressing the water, dissolve minerals, and kill off bacteria.
3. The majority of the water used is then pumped back out again.
4. The Natural Gas is then recovered through whats called a Well Bore
5. When the Gas is exhausted the Drill hole is sealed. The water that was used in the Fracking method is released in deep drilled holes and sealed.
In the case against Fracking Long term risk to some outweigh the advantage of producing Natural Gas not only to supplement our own needs but the fact we have enough to provide the needs of the World for years to come. Very little of the Well infrastructure remains so that the Drill Well continues to produce. Over 90% of all Natural Gas Wells in the U.S. use this technology to collect Natural Gas.
Negative Effects of Fracking On the Environment
Because the process of Fracking uses huge amounts of freshwater, it also creates huge amounts of contamination from the used water and releases it back into the environment. The water becomes a risk of the contaminates re-entering the water system becoming a new source of polluting groundwater or deep wells used for drinking water. The problem is whether the toxic water will eventually move and creating hazardous conditions everywhere the Drill Holes exist.
There are Water Treatment Facilities that are working on it but it is problematic especially in the future. The chemicals that are used in Fracking are listed as hazardous to the very Toxic and Carcinogenic. There are about 700 hundred different chemicals that can be used in the process. Another environmental risk is Fracking’s release of Greenhouse Gases.
The Natural Gas released by Fracking is mixed with Methane Gas that is 25x more potent than Carbon Dioxide. On a positive note, Natural Gas is less harmful than coal when burned. Still, experts say the negative effect on the climate balance outnumbers the effects of using Coal for energy.
- The Fracking Drill Holes in the procedure takes a huge consumption of energy to produce
- The Fracking Holes are exhausted quickly and more holes need to be frequently done than the standard method of producing Natural Gas.
- In Fracking about 3% of the Natural Gas is lost to the atmosphere
- Fracking has been blamed for inducing earthquakes
- Fracking has venting, leaking, combustion, and release of contaminants throughout the production, processing, transmission, and distribution of oil and natural gas are significant sources of air pollution.
- 1.5 million and 16 million gallons of water may be used to frack a single well, according to researchers working in the United States Geological Survey (USGS)
My 2 cents-Fracking could be a blessing if the legitimate concerns that we have for our future environment are addressed. Because it seems that all new technologies if not properly put in place could backfire and become worse. Arrangements should be made to protect our environment first then try and reap the benefits that Fracking may provide.
References: Live Sciences–Facts About Fracking
United States Geological Survey (USGS), How much water is needed for Fracking