How does hydraulic fracturing work?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. A well can be fracked more than a dozen times.


What fluids and chemicals are used in the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times. For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used from a list of far more than 700 different compounds the natural gas industry is not willing to disclose. But US scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Many very toxic and carcinogenic chemicals. The "pollution has reached the stage where it is contaminating essential life support systems - water, air, and soil - and causing harm to the health of humans, wildlife, domestic animals, and vegetation".

Eartquakes and contamination of groundwaters

Many little explosions are causing earthquakes as high as magnitude 4 at the Richter scale * * * *, not the only reason for groundwater contaminations by methane and chemicals * * . Discharge of radioactive material is a further problem * *. as the gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater and other components on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This huge amount of produced water is highly toxic and must be treated as hazardous waste.

Independency from gas imports

The EU Parliament Policy Department, Economic and Scientific Policy, comes to a deflating conclusion: "Even an aggressive development of gas shales in Europe could only contribute to the European gas supplies at one-digit percentage share at best. It will not reverse the continuing trend of declining domestic production and rising import dependency. Its influence on the European greenhouse gas emissions will remain small if not negligible, or could even be negative if other more promising projects are skipped due to wrong incentives and signals." ("Impacts of shale gas and shale oil extraction on the environment and on human health").

In Europe, France, Bulgaria and the state North Rhine Westphalia in Germany have banned hydraulic shale gas fracturing. The Czech lower house committee backs opponents of shale gas mining.

The Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) for fracked shale gas is dramatically lower than for conventional supplies. In the US shale gas production costs a multiple of the current selling price. => Fracking - A Boom and Bust

This Presentation by Dr. Anthony Ingraffea took place at the Clinton Central School Auditorium in Clinton, New York on November 28th 2011. Dr. Ingraffea is an internationally recognized expert in the field of Unconventional Extraction of Shale-Gas. He is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering and the Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell. Since 1974, he has conducted R&D in various aspects of oil and gas drilling, cementing, pipeline engineering and rock fracture mechanics.

Children Talk About Hydraulic Fracturing/Fracking-Animation

Keep Ireland Fracking Free,
6 Feb 2012, 01:15
Charlie Williams,
24 Jul 2012, 07:50