A gas harvesting method that has been around since the 1940’s, hydraulic fracturing or fracking has recently been cast into the public eye creating a furore around the technology. Advocates point to the huge reserves of previously inaccessible energy reserves that can now be tapped, whilst opponents point to the equally huge environmental concerns around fracking.
- Fracking is the process of injecting water mixtures into wellbores to fracture rocks and releasing the gas inside. The pressure is then lowered and sand is injected to keep the fractures open as the gas flows out to the head of the well.
- Gas reserves obtainable through fracking have the potential to supply energy for up to 100 years or more in the US at least, whilst also providing jobs and boosting local economies.
- The water mixtures used in fracturing rocks include chemicals such as lead, mercury, formaldehyde and more.
- Environmental concerns range from water contamination in the water table to potential for earthquakes as the ground is disturbed. The huge amount of water used (between 1 and 8 million gallons) per job is also a massive concern.
- Governments are polarised on the issue, with some countries banning it outright such as France and Tunisia and some American states, such as Vermont, doing the same. Other countries have restrictions on the practise, whilst some nations such as the UK have laws and tax structures that encourage fracking.