What is Fracking?
Fracking is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing. It is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.
Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well.
The process can be carried out vertically or, more commonly, by drilling horizontally to the rock layer and can create new pathways to release gas or can be used to extend existing channels.
The term fracking refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the high pressure mixture.
Fracking allows drilling firms to access difficult-to-reach resources of oil and gas.
Fracking Boom in the United States
Fracking is mostly responsible for surging U.S. oil and natural gas production. It has helped the US in shale gas and oil exploration in a huge way.
Fracking is letting the U.S. tap vast oil and natural gas reserves that previously were locked away in shale and other tight-rock formations.
In the US it has significantly boosted domestic oil production and driven down gas prices. It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years, and has presented an opportunity to generate electricity at half the CO2 emissions of coal.
The fracking boom in the US has also prompted a steep fall in global crude oil prices.
The extensive use of fracking in the US, where it has revolutionised the energy industry, has prompted environmental concerns.
Fracking uses huge amounts of water, which must be transported to the fracking site, at significant environmental cost.
Environmentalists say that the potentially carcinogenic chemicals used may escape and contaminate groundwater around the fracking site. The industry suggests pollution incidents are the results of bad practice, rather than an inherently risky technique.
There are also worries that the fracking process can cause small earth tremors.
Environmental activists say that fracking is simply distracting energy firms and governments from investing in renewable sources of energy, and encouraging continued reliance on fossil fuels.
Source: BBC. Link to the article.