The two major fossils man uses in production of energy for industrial and domestic purposes is natural gas and oil. These fossils availability is often restricted to specific areas and often occurs in the form of underground deposits. This leads to the necessity of directing them to the surface to ease production and processing of end products. While some natural gas and oil flows to the surface naturally due to underground pressure, such occurrences are extremely low and amounts extracted fail to meet the demands of consumers. A couple of extraction and mining techniques, top on the list hydraulic fracturing is embraced in order to response to the rising demands for energy. This paper closely focuses on Hydraulic fracturing as a technique for the extraction of natural gas and oil.
Hydraulic fracturing refers to a type of simulation where pressure gets transmitted through means of gas or fluid with the purpose of widening cracks in existence or creating cracks in underground rocks that contain hydrocarbons. Mainly, the technique is applied in the industry of gas and oil and is often referred to as ‘fracing’, ‘hydrofracking’ or ‘fracking’ (AASG). It often involves propelling a combination of chemical additions, sand and water with high pressure in order to create small intersection cracks that are aimed at increasing permeability in the underground formations targeted. Once cracks are formed, they get ‘propped’ open by the sand particles thus allowing under pressure oil or gas to flow to the surface wells for purposes of collection (Chesapeake Energy, 2012). It is worth noting that drilling of wells involved in this kind of fracturing is done in 2 distinct ways which include horizontal drilling, vertical drilling or a combination of these two (Hall, 2011). It is also worth noting that hydraulic fracturing is only carried out once to a well.
Natural gas and oil occurs in small pores within sedimentary rocks. The ability of the fossils to find its way to the surface is dependent on interconnectivity of the pores. In rocks that have low permeability, interconnection of the pores never permits natural flow of fossils to the surface making it necessary to use hydraulic fracturing in order to enlarge pores and increase interconnectivity for ease of flowing to the surface. Hydraulic fracturing is not new it was applied for the first time in 1947 in the oil industry in the US and from that time over a million wells have already been drilled through use of the technique. It is considered economical compared to the traditional applications since it uses water as its main solvent.
Since water is an important part of the process and a fundamental component of waste, there is a potential effect posed on the environment and drinking water (Office of Research and Development, 2010). Chemical additives used in the process usually are toxic since they have radioactive and heavy metals elements. The heavy metals and radioactive elements can sip into underground freshwater reservoirs due to the numerous cracks which are part of the process (Dachille, 2011). Seeping of such wastes into clean water sources causes contamination of drinking water. These chemicals are not only found in waste material but they are a hazard to the environment. During the process of fracking, toxic gases can be released into the atmosphere leading to pollution and contamination. Following environmental impacts of the process, there is urgent need for federal regulation in order to control the amount of chemicals used in the process of drilling by companies and to regulate the process of hydraulic fracturing (Burford, 2012).
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