Hydraulic fracturing is best defined as a stimulation process that is used in order to fully utilize the use of underground resources including oil, natural gas, geothermal energy and water. This method is used to enhance the flow of underground fractures to allow oil or natural gas to move more freely from rock pores to wells that bring up the resources to the surface. The whole process starts with having to build the proper and needed infrastructure which also includes the well construction. These Production wells are drilled in the vertical direction only, but can be paired with horizontal or directional sections. Vertical wells can be drilled hundreds or thousands of feet under the surface. The fluids made of water and chemical additives are then pumped into a geologic formation at high pressure during hydraulic fracturing. When the pressure of the fluid surpasses the rock, the fluid opens the fractures and extends hundreds of feet away from the well. Once this is done, a propping agent is pumped in the fractures to keep them from closing back up when the pressure is let go.
After the fracturing is done, the pressure of the geologic formation causes the injected fluids to rise to the top where it is saved in tanks or pits before disposal or recycling. Any recovered fracturing fluids are called “flowbacks” and is then disposed of into surface water or through underground injection. Currently in the states, hydraulic fracturing has already made it’s home in places such as Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia with more being targeted for the future. In Europe, World Shale Gas Resources are starting to duplicate what was done with hydraulic fracturing in the states. However, it is said that it may not work in different countries only because the rock formations are different depending on the region. Even in the states each of the gas shale basins are different and have a unique set of exploration criteria and challenges. Despite these problems, hydraulic fracturing is already underway in parts of Europe: Austria, Germany and Hungary are just a few places where it is already being tested.
Using hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil is a critical part of the country’s economic growth. Natural gas allows for over 25 percent of electricity generation, natural gas and other gases provide a multitude of things such as feedstock for fertilizers, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, waste treatment, food processing, fueling industrial boilers, and a whole lot more. North America has a lot of recoverable natural gas that can supply 175 years of gas and allows 60 percent to 80 percent of all domestically drilled wells during the next 10 years to remain useable. The fact that the U.S. has natural gas also makes us an attractive place to do business. A new analysis of the U.S. chemical industry also states that with a new and abundant source of low-cost feedstock, the U.S. market has grown to be one of the most advantageous markets for chemical production in the world.” Another economic growth is seeing an emergence of manufacturing employment opportunities.
An example being V&M Star which is building a factory that will employ 350 people. Despite the good that hydraulic fracturing can do and is doing economically, there are reports that state it is an environmentally hazardous technique to use. Some say that the fracturing has caused some problems with the underground water supply that provides us with drinking water, but so far there have been no instances of this occurring. Another is that the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing are foreign and are being hidden by the industry or that the wastewater or “flowback” may be dangerous because it is unregulated. Chemicals used are made mostly from sand and water with just a little bit of use from chemicals that are common household applications and the other fact is wastewater is disposed of by using many different methods by many different companies, but all are compliant with existing federal and state laws.
Hydraulic Fracturing Background Information
Shale Gas in Europe: Revolution or Evolution