Fracking: The good and the bad

Companies that use hydraulic fracturing to retrieve oil and gas from deep underground are changing the U.S. energy picture. Here's a graphic look at the technology and the risks.

By Charley Blaine Dec 20, 2012 3:46PM

Graphic by Ryan Jeffrey Smith for MSN Money


Stocks of companies that use fracking -- the popular term for hydraulic fracturing -- have been hot because the technique has resulted in huge gains in U.S. oil and gas production in just the last few years.


But just as hot has been the criticism. Many people see fracking as a threat to underground water supplies, as well as to rivers and streams and air quality above ground. Here's a graphic look at how it works, and the controversy.Graphic by Ryan Jeffrey Smith for MSN Money

Tags: oil


Dec 20, 2012 5:36PM
This diagram is pure BS.  A plume of chemical does not float upwards into the aquifers from the fracture stimulation process. Horse power in the pumps is what creates the stimulated fractures and there is not enough horse power on these jobs to create fracture growth in the overburden into the aquifers.
Dec 20, 2012 5:41PM
Setting fire to tap water is BS.   It is not a product of fracking.   This happens in areas where no drilling has ever occured. 
Dec 20, 2012 7:15PM
This diagram is about as accurate as if I drew a schematic of brain surgery. I can't diagram brain surgery but I have been a Petroleum engineer for 40 years.  What a fantacy world.
Dec 20, 2012 6:32PM
If you want to say this refers to the Bakken, due to the 10,000 ft depth, it would be nice if you would show the 5000 ft of solid rock between the oil and the anything close to potable water.  Also, the drill hole is triple protected with concrete enclosed steel casings.  The materials that enter into the frac are the first to be withdrawn.  Then the 'flowback' is injected back into formations around 8000 ft deep, into formations that basically have the same chemistry, salt water, oil and gas trace, H2S and a few other natural occuring nasties.  The frac only extends about 400 to 800 ft each side of the lateral, so how does it split the 5000 ft of solid rock.  This is like saying if drive a nail into a shinlge, you will crack the foundation.  Breegoogles is correct.
Dec 20, 2012 6:26PM

I have a question, the diagram shows a plume of chemicals floating up, why doesn't the oil and gas flow up? The reason the oil and gas doesn't flow up is because of the overburden from the rest of the rock and formations above. This is why you frac the production zone, so it can produce the oil and gas through the casing.

Dec 20, 2012 4:04PM
Dec 20, 2012 7:10PM

This ought to get some laughs!

     I once traveled to Ogallala, Neb on business back in 2007 and stopped at a local Mckide's to get a big Mac. I ordered a large coke and the clerk said we only have bottled water. I asked why this was here reply. Our water has become contaminated and we can't sell anything but bottled water. So the water is already bad so how can the keystone pipe line effect it anymore. I laugh every time I see the Dem. on Capitol Hill make remarks about the Ogallala aquifer now. And how the keystone pipeline will harm it, its already polluted.

Dec 21, 2012 5:20AM
Maybe we should inject all Washington DC politicians as well as all the lawyers instead of chemicals into the underground shale. 
Dec 20, 2012 9:02PM
If there were only some way to get all of these great points herein regarding the fracturing process out to protesters in an attempt to educate them. Unfortunately, it probably still wouldn't help as these people seem to stay on one side of the fence no matter how many times you debunk their argument. It's diagrams like the "floating chemical cloud" that fuels their nonsense, while it's the fracture process that fuels their cars!!!
Dec 20, 2012 6:23PM
It's writings like this by people that don't know anything about the HYDRAULIC FRACTURING SYSTEM. If they did, it sure wouldn't read like it's reading! Just more Bull$hit! It depends on WHAT SIDE OF THE FENCE YOU ARE ON! That's why all the BULL$HIT! Nothing more, nothing less!!
Dec 21, 2012 10:04AM
How is it that when I spill water on the dirt, it goes down, not up like the chemicals.  Are the chemicals immune to gravity?
Dec 21, 2012 1:31PM
When was the last time fracking contaminated 100's of miles of beautiful sandy beaches? I will take fracking over off shore oil drilling any day.
Jan 24, 2013 3:46PM
     I have property in eastern ky about 500 ft from a gas well that was frac  by ashlanexploration.   when they did they damaged my well. It has so much  oil and chemical in it no one will ever be able to use it again nor drill a new one the water table is ruined for ever when I informed them they laughed it off . and said that was impossable it even caved a portion of the well in with presure . I will gladly pull up a sample of the water. I had to vacate my property because cant get city water or drink the well water any more . But Ashland did not care. Dont let Ashland on your property or you might get done the same way they have ruined life for my family and I had to leave 33 acres they wouldent  even take time to get a sample of the water they ruined .  Expect them  to denie everthing when drilling on your property Charles Young           157 Spruce Dr Cynthiana ky   41031
Dec 20, 2012 6:47PM
funny we have all this resource to collect yet its been there for eons, i think the polution issue is above ground not below. Just look at the ocean and other water sources all poluted. Once the hole is drilled the realease is black and white goes into the drilled hole not into the ajacent rock formation.
Dec 21, 2012 3:40PM
I think we are returning to the Planet of the Apes this diagram or working drawing shows the intelligence of the primates who sketched it. I am am a top notch engineer and can not even find a decent job because the same kind of people that believe how fracking is done this way never get my resume to the people that know how to do it the right way.
Jan 24, 2013 2:28PM
"...some residents near some sites have been able to set fire to their tap water..."  This is one of the BIGGEST misconceptions about the results of fracking.  These homeowners have drilled their water wells right in the middle of the most prolific shallow gas fields in the U.S.  Of COURSE they have natural gas in their water wells!  Up in the Wattenberg field where those homeowners in Gasland are living, you can poke a hole in the ground almost anywhere and get gas.  It's abundant, it's widespread and it's shallow.  Any water well will end up with gas in it - if not initially, then eventually (as the gas migrates to the low pressure drawdown).
Jan 24, 2013 3:15PM
I agree that this diagram is BS. As a Geologist,  I spent many years in the Oil/Gas business performing frac jobs on wells in TX, OK, LA, IL, PA for a major service company. After the fracking was complete, pressure is held on the well until the viscosity of the frac fluid breaks down. Then the pressure is bled off and the majority of the fluid is returned to the surface, leaving behind the sand in the fractures. This provides the path for the oil/gas to travel horizontally to the well casing.
Dec 20, 2012 11:06PM

They only thing that I still don't completely understand is the need to use chemicals...

Is that to set off minor explosions??... Please enlighten..


Because I don't think from 2 miles away we can push/ pressue anything far enough to cause very many cracks in bedrock that far below the surface.? 

And what chemicals are they using, again....???


Jan 24, 2013 4:42PM

The fracking proponents are quick to point out the multiple layers of concrete and steel in the casings... What about the seal between the casing and the bedrock? As it was explained at a local "town hall" meeting in my area, they calculate the amount of concrete or grout that SHOULD be required to fill the voids between the casings and the bedrock. If the amount of material is substantially more or less, they know they have a problem. REALLY?! That's how we know if the seal is good? They didn't explain what they would do if the amount of material didn't match their calculations.

Anybody have a answer to this one?

Jan 24, 2013 7:38PM
It's sad they did such a lousy article and depiction on something so amazing of a process...
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