Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses water pressure to create fractures in rock that allow the oil and natural gas it contains to escape and flow out through a well. Fracking has been an important part of harvesting America’s oil and natural gas resources since the 1940s.
How Does Hydraulic Fracturing Work?
A slurry of water, sand, and chemicals is injected at high pressure into the ground through a drilled hole. This long, narrow hole is lined with pipe casing and cement to protect the nearby water sources. The pressure created by the slurry forces the rock below the surface to crack along preexisting faults, and the grains of sand help to hold those cracks open after they form. Any natural gas and oil trapped in the rock then flows along the fracture lines back to the drilled hole, where it can be collected using a pump.
Fracking requires only a few weeks of work, but the result will last for decades. It produces oil and natural gas that is beneficial to the country, and allows these valuable resources to be extracted from wells that were otherwise exhausted. It also helps build the local economy by creating jobs and tax revenue, and can stimulate migration, which helps to rejuvenate towns in decline. As the country develops, energy usage grows, and relying on natural gas is more cost effective and more stable than importing foreign oil.
Despite some tough issues, fracking continues to offer the most economically feasible way to harvest America’s oil and natural gas resources. Safe and responsible development is what fracking is all about. There are still many challenges facing the development of better fracking techniques, but the energy industry is prepared to meet them, ensuring that the future of hydraulic fracturing will focus on safe, reliable processes.