Last updated on January 15th, 2014
Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is the process of generating fractures in a rock layer by a pressurized fluid. Fracking is used to extract natural gas and petroleum from these rock layers because the ‘easy’ extraction methods are already in process and being used up. There are apparently no more easy pickings.
We live in a world of exploding population and insatiable demand for energy and petroleum / oil. Look around you right now, wherever you are. Petroleum is in nearly every product that you see. Most of them could not be made without it. It is the life blood of our modern world, and is a underlying support for the U.S. dollar (oil is sold in dollars). The thing is… it (oil) is a finite resource. Many believe that we have passed the point of peak oil, a logical point of view based on many things, not the least of which is the fact that methods like Fracking are being used for extraction.
The Fracking process creates fractures from a bore hole drilled into reservoir rock formations where the energy from the injection of a highly pressurized hydraulic fracturing fluid (a mixture of water and chemicals) creates new channels in the rock (fractures).
The Fracking process requires tremendous amounts of water. As an example, in Canada, Alberta’s oil sands mines require more than 3 barrels of water to produce a barrel of bitumen (a black, oily, viscous deposit of the solid or semi-solid form of petroleum).
Another example reveals the apparent consumption of water needed for the Texas Eagle Ford formation, one of the United States most prolific shale plays. It takes about 150,000 gallons of water to drill a single well, while it takes 6 million gallons of water to frack that same well.
According to Jeff Rubin, the author of “The End Of Growth“,
Producers in Pennsylvania are running into similar problem trying to drill into the region’s Marcellus formation. State water authorities have cut off companies from drawing water from at least two major rivers. A shortage of water forced one producer, Breitling Oil and Gas, to shutter production from more than 10 percent of its wells.
When it comes to achieving energy independence, the ongoing drought in the US Midwest is an unexpected obstacle. Production from North Dakota’s Bakken play, already at 700,000 barrels a day, holds the potential to double and even triple, according to the IEA. That forecast, however, is critically contingent on sourcing adequate supplies of water. Simply put, without water you can’t frack.
We’re already seeing a tug of war between the water needs of the fracking boom in the Bakken and barge traffic on the Mississippi.
North Dakota wants to tap reservoirs that feed the Missouri River for fracking. Others want that water diverted to the Mississippi to ensure the river maintains the minimum level needed for shipping. South of St. Louis, low water levels are threatening to shut down commercial barge traffic.
Drought and fracking clearly don’t mix. Will America’s shale revolution soon run out of water?
As more potentially hazard measures are taken to extract what’s left out of the earth, there are potential environmental impacts, including contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, fracture induced earthquakes, the migration of gases and chemicals to the surface, and the health effects of these.
Wars have been fought and will continue to be fought over sources and control of petroleum. As our world supplies are consumed, the follow-on effects will be life changing. Modern survival will include adapting to a lifestyle that is less dependent upon these sources, a lifestyle that employs more methods of self sustained living. Unfortunately (for todays economy), more self sustained living generally means less consumption, which in turn is ‘bad’ for the present day economic system. The system and its controllers will do anything and everything they can to keep it alive, even as it is slowly strangled of its life blood.
It is better to prepare today, to live a life not so dependent upon external systems. Even as our precious fresh water supplies are being consumed, the fact that we are Fracking so extensively is an indicator to where we are on the timeline of drying petroleum resources.
When the system controllers can no longer keep a lid on it, how will YOU live with more expensive oil, gas, products, and food? Better to start thinking about it today…