Wednesday, December 19, 2012

(Opinion) Fracking: Fracking-Yes or No?

Gasland Halliburton  300x168 ‘Gasland’ film blows the fracking top off US natural gas industry

What is Fracking?

Fracking or hydraulic fracturing is a process to extract natural gas from Shale rock layers that involves injecting chemicals, often toxic, and gallons of water under high pressure. Hydraulic fracturing is different than just drilling as it is injecting fluid in the veins of a rock and expanding them. With such a great amount of pressure and chemicals, the rock shatters releasing the gas flow.

By doing this it creates new channels in which the natural gases can be extracted from the rock. Unlike oil, cases that use this method are doing so because putting any type of drill into the rock instantly creates enough friction to produce sparks which could easily light the natural gases on fire. Send the whole project exploding. This is why the men are required to keep a constant vigil on the equipment and materials they use.

Use of Fracking

Fracking was started in 1947, now it is used extensively for extracting natural gas. Britain's government welcomes the resumption of fracking. Lancashire signals green to the company Cuadrilla resources. Government of Northern Ireland is considering fracking by an Australian company, Tamboran which has a license to explore the method of gas extraction in County Fermangh. In the US, California has yet to begin fracking in earnest. In Montery County, the Denver based Oil Company Venoco has been given a green signal. Fracking, though is yet to be used in many parts of the world, yet we come across many such massive uses of fracking globally.

Induced hydraulic fracturing is commonly used to either increase the flow or restore the flow of fluids in a rock like petroleum, water, and natural gas. Typically these are used on porous sandstone, lime stones or dolomite rocks and sometimes include shale or coal beds. Also, this tends to be used for rocks that are 1,000 – 6,000 miles below the surface as the depth may cause there to not be enough pressure to allow natural gas and oil to flow from the rocks into the well bore at the rates of the current economy. This method can cause super fracking which provides a wealthy yield of gases for about a year or two and then drops off at an extreme rate.

The way that this fluid is applied is it is poured down a hole and into the rocks below, spreading it to the rock bed below to make it exceed the pressure rate of the rock. Once the crack forms the fluid seeps further in to the rock and does not stop. The operator uses prop-pant to slow the rate of fracturing so that when the fluid stops the prop-pant stops the cracks from refilling and stopping the rate of fluid. Once the fluid begins to stop it needs to be controlled before it begins to change the geometry of the cracks of other rock beds and materials beside it, otherwise it could damage that areas fracture rate which would decrease product efficiency.

The equipment used with oils and natural gas is a more slurry blender with a high pressure fracturing pump with a monitor to watch it all.

Prop-pants consists of many things as prop-pant is just a generalized name including several different materials. These could be silica sand, resin-coated sand, or man-made ceramics. The type of prop-pant depends on the gradient that they are working with and the strength that is needed. While the most common is the silica sand, the man-made ceramics are more efficient in doing the job. Due to higher porosity of the fracture, more gases flow through and are collected.

Fracking Controversy

So, now that we know about what fracking, and what it is used for, let's talk about controversy. The controversy has been running since fracking was first implemented in 1947. There is always a chance of the chemicals escaping into under ground water sources. There are many diseases that can result from this because when it happens the contaminated water is left in a severely unhealthy state.

That being said, the news of the world has had a massive amount of coverage on this controversy lately. In the UK last year, fracking was put on hold due to the gas explorer Cuadrilla Resources being linked to a series of strong earthquakes. Now, the UK has given the go ahead for fracking to resume but only under super strict regulations. In the USA, there have been numerous displays of fracking gone bad. In Michigan, many gas explorer companies are renewing interest in the deposits there. California is still on hold to start fracking projects of their own.

Multiple states including Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Texas have had massive fracking projects run to.Sadly, in every place that has been listed, there have been multiple cases of chronic health problems due to the mishandling of waste, contamination of drinking water, and even the air. The off set of viable energy, money, and so forth is not a viable reason to me and certainly not to the people who actually have received health problems from this energy “boon”.

Look at the study done by professor Robert W. Howarth of Cornell University, in it he quotes that 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane escaping from shale-gas productions happens of the lifetime of the well. Breathing methane in small amounts is not very detrimental to the health of a person. However, at these rates the concentration is enough to cause many health problems like unstable emotions, nausea, vomiting, respiratory collapse, and in extreme cases death. I mention this because methane is a main ingredient in natural gas production. Many places that use fracking inversely effect the surrounding cities, towns, and landscapes because of this and the amount of chemicals and water being forced into places it was never meant to go.

In 2010, Josh Fox released the movie “Gas-Land” depicting the effects of fracking on different communities in the USA.  Because the U.S. Created this method, almost all the environmental impact studies have been based here. The is also a final concern about water consumption is arid places where it can affect water supplies. Here an average well's requirement is 3 to 8 million US gallons (11,000 to 30,000 m3) of water, typically within one week.


It is still an issue of debate whether using fracking is safe and should be allowed or not, yet the ever growing demand and pressing price of oil makes it nearly impossible to deny its use. There have been many conventions coming to argue that it is unsafe, and though it is, almost all of them are area based. Some areas experience more health issues than others, some have to repair the environment that they're in, but other areas are not even effected or phased by the fluid. The fact that the damage is so dependent on the area in which the fracking takes place makes it difficult to determine whether the whole of the regime is safe or not. However, with how unstable our world is becoming, it is time for us as people to find a better way of doing things for our future. We have the technology. So, why don't we use it wisely.

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