Hydraulic Fracturing Defined
WIKI defines hydraulic fracturing or “frac jobs” (or “frac’ing” in the industry, or with the misspelling “fracking” being common in media reports) as a process that results in the creation of fractures in rocks. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations to increase the rate and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas.
Hydraulic fractures may be natural or man-made, and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock. Natural hydraulic fractures include volcanic dikes, sills, and fracturing by ice – as in frost weathering. Man-made fluid-driven fractures are formed at depth in a borehole and extend into targeted formations. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.
Environmental and Health/Safety Concerns
There is a fair amount of controversy that goes hand-in hand with the current manner in which fracing is being administered. Some of those concerns include not only environmental issues but basic safety and health concerns. These have emerged and are being debated at both the state and federal levels. Some of those concerned about current fracing techniques register the following concerns:
1. Ground water contamination
2. Lower air quality
3. Gas and hydraulic fracturing chemicals reaching the surface
4. The mishandling of waste related to fracing [Read more...]