If you haven’t already heard the term “fracking” you will soon. There’s a lot of controversy over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but just like any beneficial solution it can have negative consequences if businesses are not made to follow the rules and perform the job correctly.
In order for the US to become more self-sufficient when it comes to our oil addiction, we need to find sources at home so we won’t be dependent on other countries for our entire supply. We need to do something – and fast. Not only could these oil deposits help fulfill our needs, they also provide lots of jobs – not just in the oil business. New businesses pop up to meet the needs of the workers brought into towns throughout the country by these oil jobs. There are new grocery stores, homes, movie theaters, restaurants and more. A real boost to the economy. President Obama has recently backed hydraulic fracturing on federal lands as long as the chemicals used are disclosed and there is a plan for safely disposing of each well’s wastewater. These stipulations are important to enforce.
Fracking is a fairly new technology that allows business to reach the oil that’s been trapped in these rocks for centuries. What happens is a vertical drill is used to drill straight down past the water table to keep from contaminating the water supply. From there a horizontal drill makes a slow arc at the bottom that will eventually level out and become horizontal. This is called the well bore and once it’s complete it’s given a cement “sleeve” and casing to keep any of the fracking mixture from leaking out. Next a wire lowers a perforating gun to the correct section of the horizontal well bore. An electrical current is sent down the wire and when it gets to the perforating gun, it sets off a charge that goes through the holes in the gun and shoots tiny holes through the casing, cement and into the shale. This action continues along the entire length of the horizontal bore.
Then the real fracking begins with a mixture of sand, fresh water and chemicals that’s forced down into the casing at such a high pressure that the mixture is pushed through the holes and into the rock causing it to fracture. Large quantities of water are used for this process – about a million gallons per well. However, if you compare the amount to water that’s used on farms or even to keep golf courses green, it’s minimal. When the hydraulic fracturing process is complete the oil flows up the well bore to the wellhead where it will be pumped into storage tanks. Later a tanker truck will fill up with the oil and take it to the nearest terminal for transloading into rail cars that will then take it to the refinery.
Fracking in and of itself is not bad. If done right it will be very profitable for the US in terms of becoming less dependent on unstable countries and providing jobs for people here at home.