Hydraulic Fracturing

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 and has been continuously improved upon ever since.  

“More than 4 million oil and gas related wells have been drilled in the United States since development of these energy resources began nearly 150 years ago. At least 2 million of these have been hydraulically fracture-treated…” - U.S. Department of Energy

Without hydraulic fracturing, there’d be no American energy renaissance.  Households would be paying more for energy.  U.S. manufacturers and other businesses would not be benefitting.  And our air would not be as clean (because of abundant, clean-burning natural gas, carbon emissions are at 40-year lows). 

According to the U.S. Energy Department, up to 95 percent of new wells drilled today are hydraulically fractured, which, according to the EIA in 2018, accounts for two-thirds of total U.S. marketed natural gas production and about half of U.S. crude oil production.  

Recent innovations combining this technology with horizontal drilling in shale formations has unlocked vast new supplies of natural gas and oil.  Modern hydraulic fracturing when combined with horizontal drilling allow multiple wells to be drilled from one spot, reducing the size of the drilling area above ground by as much as 90 percent.  Fracking is the key to unlocking vast U.S. shale resources, freeing up oil and natural gas that previously was inaccessible while protecting groundwater supplies and the environment.

The Process

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 short video below. 


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:

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.

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