Friday, 25 October 2013

Fracking: The Basics!

Fracking is a topic of great controversy in today's society but how much do we really know about it and how much of the information that we are told is actually true? So I present here some of the facts about fracking to try and uncover the truth around this taboo subject.

Fracking is another term used for hydraulic fracturing. The BBC say that fracking is 'the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside'. This is true but let's add a bit more detail. A fracturing fluid (such as water), chemicals and an added proppant (a solid used to keep a fracture open such as glass beads) is pumped under high pressure into a hole. This causes rocks deep beneath the surface to fracture and the hydrocarbons stored to be released. The proppant keeps the fracture open so that the hydrocarbons can migrate to the well and travel to the surface.

The illustration above shows broadly how the process works. 

So I bet you're wondering what the big deal is? There are several issues that people have with fracking

One major concern hit the media in 2011 when some minor earthquakes occurred in Blackpool after a fracking company started drilling some test wells in the area. The company then said that these tremors were likely caused by fluids being injected into a fault zone and the rocks subsequently fracturing, as expected by the process. One of the worries this stems in people is whether this puts them in danger, as earthquakes can cause structural damage to buildings which has the potential to destroy homes and families. This brought around anti-fracking groups  who believe that fracking poses more consequences than positives. 

Another concern is what is actually in the fracturing fluid? Many companies refuse to disclose what is actually used in the fluid, but Cuadrilla, a fracking company which operates in the UK have been very open with what chemicals they use and why they use them. They explain that one of their key chemicals; polyacrylamide, makes up only 0.04% of the fluid and is a non-hazardous, non-toxic substance used only to reduce friction between water and the pipe wall. More information can be found at :

The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act) was proposed in America to federally regulate fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. This act requires companies to disclose the chemical make up of their fracture fluid, however as yet this bill has not been passed.

Despite these concerns it is important to remember that fracking allows access to previously unreachable reserves of hydrocarbons, which (according to the BBC) has the potential to offer gas security to the US and Canada for the next 100 years.

My opinion is that fracking has the potential to be a very useful and effective source of hydrocarbons and as technology improves the consequences of the process will reduce in effect. So maybe right now fracking is a bit risky, but in the future when hydrocarbon reserves are running low and technology to extract them has improved, fracking is a definate lace to turn too. 

So what do you think? I only hope that this post has presented you with some basic knowledge about fracking, and if you want to know more simply type 'Fracking' into google and your will be swept away in floods of results. Remember though to always consider who is writing it to ensure that your opinion is build on facts and not fiction. If you have any comments or questions, please comment below. Happy reading! 

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