Hydraulic fracking is a well known process used to retrieve resources present underground such as natural gas, oil, water and geothermal energy. In the oil & gas industry, hydraulic fracking is widely used in enhancing the subsurface of fracture systems so that oil and natural gas can move freely from the pores of rocks to the production wells. These wells are used to bring the gas (and oil) to the surface.
Hydraulic fracking begins with the creation of the location infrastructure like wells. Production wells are drilled either with horizontal / directional or vertical sections. The erect well sections are drilled thousands of feet beneath the earth's surface while horizontal sections may extend from 1000 'to 6000' away from the production well.
The fluids which are made up of chemical additives and water are pushed into a geologic structure at a high pressure during the fracking process. This entails thousands of gallons of fluid. The rock fractures get weaker as the pressure exceeds and chemical fluids further enlarge the fractures. This can extend to long distances (over several thousand feet).
As soon as the desired fracture is obtained, a propping chemical is pushed into the faults. This is done to make sure that the faults / fractures remain open when the pumping fluids are released. Once the fracturing is over, the geologic structure's internal pressure causes the fracturing fluids to go up where it is stored in pits or tanks before recycling or disposal.
The recovered fracturing fluid is also known as flowback. The flowback disposal options are underground injection or discharge into the surface water. If not done properly, there is significant risk of environmental damage.
A few concerns of Hydraulic Fracking
The dangers associated with hydraulic fracking are the major environmental issues of big giants of oil & gas industry. Shale gas extraction has been considered as a threat to the environment. The fracking process has known to contaminate bodies of water which may lead to sickness and disease among local humans and animals. It has also been observed that local officials and shale gas companies have been accused of breaking laws and regulations related to water usage.
In the United States, the implementation of new techniques for extracting gas from shale formations has achieved a huge success. Some chief companies like Exxon and Chevron are shelling out millions of dollars to acquire companies with advanced technologies and shale gas extraction. Despite these efforts, there are environmental issues related to mankind.
The major elements of environment that get contaminated include air quality and water. Pollution increases even more if fracking wastes are not handled properly. They contain harmful chemicals and cause health hazards and diseases like cancer.
Several cases of water contamination have been documented by environment experts for companies to consider and improve the process of fracking. It might take a while for these companies to eliminate all the possibilities of health dangers and environment threats of hydraulic fracking.