Undoubtedly you know there was an earthquake in Oklahoma on Saturday that we felt locally and throughout many states.
Earthquakes have become more commonplace in the Midwest and a – not new process called “fracking” used by oil and gas producers is being blamed by some for these events.
Just so you will better understand here is a text book explanation of “fracking.”
“Fracking” is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing; a type of drilling that has been used commercially for 65 years. Today, the combination of advanced hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, employing cutting-edge technologies, is mostly responsible for surging U.S. oil and natural gas production.
Hydraulic fracturing involves safely tapping shale and other tight-rock formations by drilling a mile or more below the surface before gradually turning horizontal and continuing several thousand feet more. Thus, a single surface site can accommodate a number of wells. Once the well is drilled, cased and cemented, small perforations are made in the horizontal portion of the well pipe, through which a typical mixture of water (90 percent), sand (9.5 percent) and additives (0.5 percent) is pumped at high pressure to create micro-fractures in the rock that are held open by the grains of sand. Additives play a number of roles, including helping to reduce friction (thereby reducing the amount of pumping pressure from diesel-powered sources which reduces air emissions) and prevent pipe corrosion, which in turn help protect the environment and boost well efficiency.
Safe hydraulic fracturing is the biggest single reason America is having an energy revolution right now, one that has changed the U.S. energy picture from one of scarcity to abundance. “Fracking” is letting the U.S. tap vast oil and natural gas reserves that previously were locked away in shale and other tight-rock formations.
“Fracking” isn’t new. My dad used “fracking” nearly 50 years ago to turn tired, old oil leases viable again.
“Fracking” today is accomplished using a chemical reaction. My dad and his cronies likely started their “fracking” with gun powder, but advanced to nitroglycerin. Whatever their methods it was far more dangerous than today’s process.
As for the earthquakes and the part “fracking” plays in them I refer you to a quote from a geologist who said, “this weekend's event was nearly 300 million years in the making.”
Let the debate continue!
I’m Steve Sauder.
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