Fracking Pros and Cons

Hydraulic Fracturing “Fracking”

Transcript of Fracking Pros and Cons

Page 1: Fracking Pros and Cons

Hydraulic Fracturing


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Definition• The hydraulic fracturing

of shale rock formations by injecting fluid into cracks to force them further open.

• The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formation and into the wellbore. The gas released is methane, also referred to as natural gas.

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History• 1840’s: Natural Gas first used in Fredonia, New York.

• 1860’s: Fracturing, using nitroglycerin, used as a method to stimulate shallow, hard rock oil wells. (1)

• 1947: Floyd Farris of performs experiments that become the basis of hydraulic fracturing. (2)(6)

• 1970’s: The United States government initiated the Eastern Shales Project, a set of dozens of public-private hydraulic fracturing pilot demonstration projects. The Gas Research Institute receives funding from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. (3)

• 1997 – present: Development of "slickwater fracturing.” This process involves adding chemicals to water to increase the fluid flow, that makes shale gas extraction economical.

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• The problem is conventional hydrocarbon resources, those that flow freely, are quickly diminishing, while non conventional resources, those that are locked in shale bed formations, are only accessible though hydro-fracking. (4)

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Materials Used• Water – 98%

– Up to 4.5 million gallons per well. Of which 40-60% is recovered and treated. The rest is lost permanently in the well, unrecoverable, and forever lost.

• Sand - 1.5%

• Chemicals – 0.5% – In a 2011 report to the U.S. Congress about 750 compounds have

been listed as additives for hydro-fracking. The most common chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing are methanol, isopropyl alcohol, 2-butoxethanol, and ethylene glycol. (5) These chemical additives reduce friction, counter rust, and kill microorganisms.

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Process - Overview

• A hydraulic fracture is formed by pumping the fracturing fluid into the wellbore at a rate sufficient to increase the pressure down hole to exceed that of the fracture gradient of the rock.

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Process - Drilling• Well is drilled to the desired

depth. A protective casing of steel and concrete is installed beyond any source of potable water.

• A perforation gun is extended at depth and explosive charges released. This perforates the well casing.

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Process - Injection• The fracturing fluid,

water, sand, and chemicals are forced at extreme pressures into the perforations causing the source rock formation to crack.

• The sand, referred to as ‘proppants,’ prop the fractures open allowing the gas to flow once the fracking fluid is removed.

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Process - Fracturing

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Process – Disposal • The injected solution begins to ‘blowback,’ and

recovery of the tainted water begins.

• Depending on the specific geologic conditions, up to 40% of the contaminated water is lost within the formation.

• The remaining wastewater is too toxic for conventional treatment plants and is either left to evaporate in retaining ponds, or trucked off site to a chemical plant and disposed of in injection wells confined by impermeable strata.

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Pros and Cons

For & Against

Reduced Dependence on Foreign Oil

Clean Fossil Fuel

Economic Renewal

Future Energy Needs

Lower Energy Costs

Ground Water Contamination

Air Contamination

Animal Death and Disease

Human Harm


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Reduced Dependence on Foreign OilReliance on Petroleum Imports has DeclinedU.S. dependence on imported oil has declined since peaking in 2005. This trend is the result of increased use of domestic biofuels, and strong gains in domestic production of natural gas and the reduced the need for imports. (6)

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Cleaner Fossil Fuel• From 2008 to 2012 U.S. carbon

emissions have dropped 20%. The major factor cited is the production and use of domestic natural gas. (7)

• Natural gas emits:1. 50% < CO2 than coal2. 33% < CO2 than oil3. 85% < CO than either4. A fraction of the amount of

SO2, and particulates. Especially respirable suspended particles (RSP’s) Those with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less.

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Lower Energy Costs• 25% of the energy consumed in the U.S. natural gas• Natural gas costs 82% less than either electricity or propane• Coal fired electrical generation plants can be converted to use NG. (8)

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Future Energy Needs

• Nearly ½ of the electricity in the U.S. is coal fire generated.

• The average generation of a coal plant is 1.3 million megawatt-hours. This equates to roughly 2.6 billion pounds of CO2. (9) There are 1,522 coal generators in the U.S.

• The replacement /conversion of coal generated plants could reduce operating cost by 80%, while sequestering nearly 2 trillion pounds of anthropogenic green house gas.

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Economic BenefitEmployment

• Currently there are:– 1.7 million jobs in the NG field

• Projected increase:– 3 million jobs by 2020 – 3.5 million by 2035

Tax Revenue

• Fiscal Year 2011-2012 in Pennsylvania alone:– $2.6 billion in tax receipts

• Projected Federal, State and Local tax receipts by 2035– $5.1 trillion

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Groundwater Contamination• Below ground

contamination is due to poorly constructed cement casings.

• Above ground contaminations are the result of improperly lined evaporation ponds, and direct spills to the soil.

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Air Contamination• On site emissions from trucks

associated with water transport.– 4.5 million gallons per well.

Truck carries 8000 gallons. There are 1,125 trips per well.

• Drilling can release benzene and methane during a burst release in the initial blowback phase.

• The E.P.A. proposed the first rules concerning air pollution in July of 2011.

– Mandates the use of ‘Green Completion Systems’ to capture initial bursts. Flaring, the burning of captured blowback, is still allowed. This reduces toxins, but is wasteful.

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Animal Death and Disease• Above ground waste

release:– Volatile organic

compounds (VOC’s)– Heavy Metals– Salts– Radioactivity

These toxins become air and soil borne with:

Storage, Processing, and Transport, Injection and Spill

Once airborne, they accumulate in the blood, tissue, lungs, and skin of animals causing illness, injury and death. (12)

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Human Health ConcernsThe names of most chemicals used are proprietary and undisclosed. There are dozens to hundreds of chemicals which could be used as additives. This most commonly used are listed here:

• Four of the 12 chemicals know to cause human harm used are: Arsenic, Benzene, Lead and Phenol

Symptoms include: Leukemia, Lymphoma, Real Failure and Pulmonary Damage (13)

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Earthquakes• In the 1960’s, the U.S. Army

produced the first known injection inducted earthquake in Rangely, Colorado. This proved that fluid pressure could be used to ameliorate earthquake hazards.

• Seismographic data is used by the industry to evaluate the extent of the fracking process. Most quakes are <2.0 in the Richter Scale, and are not considered a major concern. (14)

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Earthquakes II• March 2013:

– A 4.7 Earthquake recorded in Little Rock, Arkansas prompts State Officials to shut down all hydraulic fracturing AND waste injection in the area. Since then, the quakes, which have occurred with alarming frequency, have stopped.

• Arkansas Geological Survey Geologists don't believe production wells are the problem, but haven't ruled out injection wells that dispose of fracking wastewater as the cause. (15)

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• The dangers of fracking are apparent. While the reality of its usefulness becomes clear.– Replacing coal fired

plants with natural gas:• Reduces carbon

emissions in the long run.

• Buys time needed to develop even cleaner renewable resources.

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References:1. Charlez, Philippe A. (1997)Rock Mechanics: Petroleum Applications. Paris: Editions Technip. p. 239. ISBN 9782710805861. Retrieved 2012-05-14.

2. Montgomery, Carl T.; Smith, Michael B. (2010-12-105). "Hydraulic fracturing. History of an enduring technology" (PDF). JPT Online (Society of Petroleum Engineers): 26–41. Retrieved 13 May 2012.

3. EPA Report on Coal Bed Fracking, 2004.

4. Gas Resource Institute, 2004.

5. Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing (Report). Committee on Energy and Commerce U.S. House of Representatives. April 18, 2011. p. ?.

6. Stevens, Paul (August 2012)"The 'Shale Gas Revolution': Developments and Changes". Chatham House. Retrieved 2012-08-15.

7. David Holt,, 2013

8. "Natural gas power generation matches coal’s for first time" Steve Gelsi, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2012.


10. IHS Study: America’s Energy Future, Volume 1, 2013

11. Penn State Study, 2012

12. Mary Menadace, R.N. Upstate Medical University, 2013

13. Dr. Sheila Bushkin, Director of CME Program Committee of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy

14. U.S.G.S. Seismological Research Letter: March/April 2013 Vol. 84, No. 2

15. The Huffington Post First Posted: 02/28/11 09:33 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET