Hydraulic fracturing is a means of extracting natural gas and oil from shale formations. It is a proven technology that has been used since the 1940s in more than one million wells in the United States to help produce oil and natural gas.
Hydraulic fracturing is an advanced, proven technique whereby “fracturing fluids,” most commonly comprised of 99.5% water and sand, and less than 0.5% chemicals, are injected under high pressure into a shale formation, creating fissures that free the natural gas to flow from rock pores where it is trapped. To learn more about hydraulic fracturing, watch the video below. In just a few minutes, you will gain an understanding of the critical steps that take place before hydraulic fracturing even begins; the safety measures used to protect the fresh water aquifer; and the hydraulic fracturing process itself.
Nearly 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will implement hydraulic fracturing because it allows access to formations that had not been accessible without the technology. Oil and natural gas companies have the benefit of gaining from the experience of an industry that has used this technology in two million wells since 1947. The combined expertise of thousands of workers in this field has developed comprehensive standards, procedures and regulations to protect citizens and the environment.
Protecting the Environment through Standards, Regulations and Experience
The oil and natural gas industry understands there are environmental risks associated with drilling and hydraulic fracturing. These risks, however, are mitigated through the establishment of stringent standards, policies and regulations, many of which were developed by, or in conjunction with, oil and natural gas companies with more than a century of experience.
Companies drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, for example, have more than a century of experience and have worked with industry trade groups, such as the American Petroleum Institute (API), to create best practice standards used for oil and natural gas operations.
Strict state regulations are in place for oil and natural gas operations, and many are reviewing policies to allow for further the development using hydraulic fracturing. Each state must make its decisions based on fact, however, and not on exaggerations. For example, hydraulic fracturing has often been misconstrued as the cause for water contamination, when in fact there has been no proof for causality.
Rather than focus on the exaggerated risks, misinformation or even rumor, here are the facts:
- Oil and natural gas shale development is already effectively being conducted in many states. To date, there have been no confirmed cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing.
- The companies that drill for natural gas have over a century of experience, and have been using hydraulic fracturing since 1940 to extract oil and natural gas from approximately one million wells.
- The industry has developed and continually reviews extensive standards and operating procedures which are used worldwide to guide all aspects of oil and natural gas production including those involved with hydraulic fracturing.
Read more about the facts behind drilling for natural gas, including the use of hydraulic fracturing, as well as the background on the industry experience, standards and regulations that will protect the environment, drinking water and the public in areas where oil and natural gas can be produced.
- Hydraulic Fracturing (website)
- Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing (FracFocus)
- Geology.com: Hydraulic Fracturing History and Fluids Used
- Ohio Oil and Gas Association (Hydraulic Fracturing page)
- What's Old is New Again in Ohio Energy (Energy from Shale)
- FracFocus.org (website)
- Energy from Shale
- Hydraulic Fracturing: Unlocking America’s Natural Gas Resources
- Shale Energy: 10 Points Everyone Should Know (PDF)