Fracking (Animated Infographic Video)

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a decades
old technology that releases methane gas trapped in shale rock. The process involves drilling a well down
to gas-rich shale layers and then drilling horizontally. A water-based fluid containing
sand and lubricating chemicals is injected into the well at high pressure, producing
small fractures in the rock releasing the natural gas contained within. This travels
up the well for collection at the surface. Most countries have some shale gas reserves
so this resource has the potential to become a truly global phenomenon, as nations aim
to drive down energy costs and reduce carbon emissions by replacing coal. In addition,
geopolitics plays a role as European countries seek to improve their energy security and
reduce their reliance on imports from less stable regions. In the US, shale gas contributed approximately
23% to total gas production in 2010 and could reach 49% by 2035 (US EIA, 2012). A growing
number of other countries are pursuing shale gas extraction, including China, South Africa,
Canada and Australia. In Europe, Britain, Spain and Poland are most actively exploring
the potential of shale gas. Other countries, such as France, have bans or moratoriums in
place. However, shale gas extraction has proved controversial,
and debates continue about the impacts of fracking on the environment. One key issue is the impact on water resources. The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental
Management has suggested that meeting 10% of projected UK gas demand from shale gas
over 20 years would require 1.2-1.6 million cubic metres of water per year, the equivalent
use of up to 10,000 homes. To drill and fracture a single well requires
up to 23 megalitres of water (CIWEM, 2013), which could fill around 9 Olympic swimming
pools. Up to 70% of water used can be retained by
the shale (DECC, 2013), and is therefore removed from the water cycle. The water that returns
to the surface contains residual chemicals, heavy metals and sediment requiring treatment. In the US, initial shale gas extraction was
a lucrative business though examples of poor practice exist. Development in water scare
areas (CERES, 2014) raises concerns about competition with other uses when water resources
are limited. In Europe and the UK, the planning and permitting process will be used to regulate
water management. Research underway at the University of the
West on England in Bristol is exploring the environmental impacts of shale development
on water and air. The International Water Security Network believes that closer attention
needs to be paid to the trade-offs involved in shale gas extraction. Water resources must be strictly managed to
ensure that our pursuit of energy security is not exchanged for water insecurity.

One Reply to “Fracking (Animated Infographic Video)”

  1. I'm pretty sure the "water" that's pumped down isn't Ozarka or Fuji. If you can tell me "It's still H2O" I can tell my Dr. my soda is "mostly water" anyways. There's an idea! Frack with Fanta!

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