A controversial method
Despite its benefits, hydraulic fracturing has opponents. Primarily, many people are worried about the potential harm the method could do to the environment.
A main concern is that the fracking process contaminates drinking water supplies because it might be leaching methane gas and toxic chemicals into the ground. According to a study by Duke University, methane concentrations are 17 times higher in drinking-water wells located near fracking sites compared to other wells. The fear is that this contaminated water is then used as drinking water in nearby cities and towns.
Opponents of hydraulic fracturing are also staunchly against the amount of water it uses. According to a report from the U.S. Department of Energy, drilling and fracturing a horizontal shale gas well, for instance, can usually require anywhere from 2 million to 4 million gallons of water. On the other hand, the DOE points out that this amount is small compared to what is used in other industries such as agriculture.
Still, the fracking process also produces wastewater after the fact, which tends to go unused. This adds to the amount of water consumed and wasted.
Differences and similarities between oil and gas fracking
Fracking for oil and gas both involve injecting pressurized fluids into the ground. In both cases, the fractures that are created allow energy companies to more easily capture the natural resources from the ground as they flow up. They can be accessed through either shale formations or oil and gas fields.
In general, the two processes are very similar. Some wells will only contain gas while others solely hold oil, but there are many reserves that contain both fossil fuels.
The main difference between the two methods is that most shale oil formations only need to be fracked once, whereas natural gas formations generally require multiple fracking processes to access the reserves, according to FrackingOil.com.