Fracking is an industrial process for extracting natural gas and oil from previously untapped reservoirs in solid ground. The relative value of its benefits and drawbacks has been greatly debated among politicians, news media, and academia. On one hand, fracking has greatly increased the domestic supply of natural gas and oil, contributing to a global decline in prices and promoting U.S. energy independence. Critics, however, point to evidence of serious health concerns and major pollution/contamination risks.
What is Fracking?
Hydrauling fracturing, or “fracking”, involves the pumping of fluid at high pressure deep into wells in order to crack the rock (typically shale) open and release trapped energy-rich natural hydrocarbons (gas and oil). Fracking wells are first drilled vertically down and then horizontally through the target shale deposit, followed by well encasement and subsequent pumping of fracking fluid. Fracking fluid is primarily water, but also includes supportive chemicals as well as proppant. Proppant can be either sand or tiny ceramic balls that fill the cracked rock and help keep the fissures open for extraction of gas/oil. Once the pressure is turned off, the released gas/oil along with other minerals travel up the well and are extracted.
A short video explaining the process of fracking