Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is a means of extracting natural gas from shale formations such as the Fayetteville Shale.

"Fracking" was first used in the 1940's.  It has since produced more than seven billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubin feet of natural gas.  And in that time, there have been no confirmed cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fraturing itself.

“More than 4 million oil and gas related wells have been drilled in the United States since development of these energy resources began nearly 150 years ago. At least 2 million of these have been hydraulically fracture-treated…” —U.S. Department of Energy 

Hydraulic fracturing is an advanced, effective technique whereby “fracturing fluids”, comprised of more than 99.5 percent water and sand, and less than 0.5 percent chemicals, are injected under high pressure into a shale formation, creating fissures that free the natural gas to flow from rock pores where it is trapped. To learn more about hydraulic fracturing, watch the video below.  In just a few minutes, you will gain an understanding of the critical steps taken before hydraulic fracturing even begins; the safety measures used to protect the fresh water aquifer; and the hydraulic fracturing process itself. 

Nearly 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing because it allows access to formations, like shale oil and shale gas, available now as a result of technological advances.  Arkansans, however, have the benefit of gaining from the experience of an industry that has used this technology in nearly one million wells for more than 60 years. The combined expertise of thousands of workers in this field has developed comprehensive standards, procedures and regulations to protect citizens and the environment.

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Hydraulic fracturing fluids are comprised of a combination of water, sand and chemicals that are injected at high pressure into a well to initiate and to expand fractures in the shale rock.  Water makes up approximately 90% and sand approximately 9.5% of the fluid; and chemicals the remaining .5% of the mixture.  The chemicals are used for various purposes, such as increasing the viscosity of the fluid; minimizing corrosion, or “propping” open fractures created by the fracturing process.

A list of the chemicals typically used in the fracturing fluid is available here, and also at FracFocus.com.  But it is important to note, specific types and composition used varies based upon the state, geology of the rock formation, and company doing the work.

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