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Hydraulic Fracturing Process

Commonly known as fracking, hydraulic fracturing is a controversial drilling technique used in the extraction of shale oil and gas from deep underground reserves.

In the hydraulic fracturing process, the earth is drilled into either vertically or horizontally. The shale rock layer is then fractured by a high-pressure mixture of water, sand, and chemicals. By widening the existing cracks in the shale rock, more oil and natural gas can be released and recovered. This process allows the trapped oil and gas to flow through the shale fracture and up through the well bore.

Meanwhile, the fracturing fluid is recovered and recycled for future fracturing. Unrecyclable fluid undergoes treatment so that it can be disposed of either in surface waters, through underground injection, or in open air pits.

Key fact: During initial production of the well, about 25-75% of the fracturing fluid is recovered

Hydraulic fracturing is criticised because of its negative impact on the environment, such as through air and water pollution. To mitigate this, wells are filled with cement after production and pipes are blocked below ground level. The land is also restored to its original state.

Benefits

  • Increases domestic oil production

  • Reduces gas prices

  • Contributes to future energy needs

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