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What is 'Fracking'

Fracking is a slang term for hydraulic fracturing, which is the process of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting specialized fluid into cracks to force them to open further. The larger fissures allow more oil and gas to flow out of the formations and into the wellbore, from where they can be easily extracted. Fracking has resulted in many oil and gas wells attaining a state of economic viability due to the level of extraction that can be reached, and has allowed drilling firms access to previously difficult-to-reach sources of oil and gas.

BREAKING DOWN 'Fracking'

Fracking is an extraction technique for oil and gas wells in which rocks are fractured artificially with the use of pressurized liquid. The process involves drilling down into the earth and injecting a highly pressurized mixture of water, sand and thickening agent, also called “fracking fluid,” into a wellbore to create cracks in rock formations. Once the hydraulic pressure is removed from the well, the remnants of the fracking fluid hold the fractures open, making it easy to extract the oil and gas inside. Fractures can also exist naturally in formations, and both natural and man-made fractures can be widened by fracking. As a result, more oil and gas can be extracted from a given area of land.

History of Fracking

Fracturing shallow, hard rock wells to extract oil dates back to the 1860s. During that time, nitroglycerin or dynamite was used to increase oil and natural gas output from petroleum-bearing formations. In the late 1940s, petroleum engineers used fracking as a means of increasing well production. The practice of hydraulic fracturing started as an experiment back in 1947 by Floyd Farris of Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation. The first successful implementation of the process was done in 1950. Since then, fracking had been performed worldwide on oil and gas wells.

What Are the Advantages of Fracking?

Fracking increases the rate at which water, petroleum or natural gas can be recovered from subterranean wells. It has also allowed the extraction of unconventional oil and gas resources from low permeability sites where traditional extraction technologies fail. Fracking as a method for oil and gas extraction is also more economically viable than conventional or horizontal drilling. In the United States, domestic oil production has grown significantly with the introduction of fracking. The process has driven down gas prices and offered gas security to both the United States and Canada for about 100 years.

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