The fracking debate continues to roll on. Thanks, in part, to Hollywood and Celebrity activists, fracking has been associated with a seriously bad reputation. Marin Katusa, a contributor for Forbes, decided to set the record straight by focusing on the facts in his recent article “Don’t Frack Me Up: Correcting Misinformation On Hydraulic Fracturing.” I recommend reading the entire article here, but I’ve pulled out some of the key facts below.
Quick Frack Lesson:
- America’s shale deposits hold 84 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of technically recoverable natural gas.
- To access this gas, fluids made of water, sand, and chemicals to increase lubrication, inhibit corrosion of equipment, and possessing other qualities are pumped into the shale formation.
- Allowing for variance among companies and operations, fracking fluid is typically a bit under 91% water and 9% sand.
- Halliburton (NYSE.HAL) has created a frac fluid called CleanStim, made from materials sourced from the food industry. At a recent conference a Halliburton executive showed it off then drank it!
- In Pennsylvania, the fracking industry now reuses more than 60% of its water
- How fracking works: When the pressure from the fluids exceeds the strength of the rocks, the rock fractures, and in a demonstration of might by the mighty small, the granules of sand prop the fractures open. Once the fracturing is completed, the internal pressure from the formation pushes the injected fluids to the surface again.
- Frac wells are only open to the surrounding rock at the depth of the target formation. See below
- Casings do require proper cementation to be effective: the cement seals the annular spaces between successive casing layers to provide a barrier to vertical and horizontal fluid movement. A poor cementation job was a significant factor in the Deepwater Horizon well blowout, and that transpired because deepwater regulations were insufficient.
- On land cementation is highly regulated, and inspections are common. In America, oil and gas producers have been using hydraulic fracturing since at least the 1940s to enhance recoveries from older oil wells and to access the oil in tight reservoirs.