Advanced Hydraulic Fracturing / Fracking
What is Fracking or better yet, what is hydraulic fracturing? In the oilfield this is a term that is used often, it is clearly a process of doing something but it is also a term that is used in goods that are sold in the oilfield such as frack tanks. Therefore, raising the question what is fracking?
Advanced Hydraulic Fracturing otherwise known as “Fracking” is the process of drilling at least a mile below the surface of the earth safely tapping shale and alternative tight rock formations.
Once the drilling has reached this point (at least a mile) the drilling then begins horizontally for many more thousand feet. In doing so this enables this one section to house many wells. Once this well is drilled it will then be cased. Casing a well is what is done to protect the earth and to keep the well open. They do this by putting a hard steel casing in the well-bore to reinforce it and then they pump cement around the exterior of the steel using high pressure until the entire well line is secured. Casing and cementing the well confines the producing well so that it is cut off from any fresh water supplies. The next step would be to add small apertures to the horizontal part of the well pipe. This area is where a combination of water, sand, and additives (90%, 9.5%, .5% – respectively), the typical mixture, is pumped at high pressure which generates micro-fissures in the rock which are kept open by the grains of sand and release the gas inside which then flows to the head of the well. The additives in the mixture plays many roles, one of which is to decrease friction (which helps to preserve the environment and increases the wells capabilities). Fracking has allowed the US to tap into natural gas and oil reserves that previously were blocked from our reach. Furthermore, this process has allowed for new production from old wells.
Fracking can be a hotly debated topic. There are two sides of the isle on this subject. Those that are for fracking, in that it brings many jobs, access to an alternative source of fuel, reduces surface toxicity, lowers energy costs, and buys more time to find renewable energy sources. Then there is the other side of the isle those that are against fracking because it requires huge amounts of water, possibly contaminates water, may trigger earthquakes, and possible use of hazardous chemicals. Both sides are very passionate about where they come down on this topic.
Meanwhile, many countries have banned hydraulic fracturing such as France and Tunisia. Moreover, many states of the US have banned fracking as well such as Vermont and New York State. In Canada many provinces have bans on fracking such as New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.
However, there are many more areas of the world that are exploring and practicing fracking. The US being one of those places which you can view in this map below from 2016.
By: Jennifer Birge
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