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
Jan 26, 2013 2:17PM

If you can keep your heat on this winter, thank you natural gas producer.  Fracking doesn't kill people, lack of heating does.  PA electric rates have gone down 15% due to nat gas.

Jan 24, 2013 7:38PM
It's sad they did such a lousy article and depiction on something so amazing of a process...
Jan 24, 2013 5:44PM

Well if any of the people who have HBO, have seen GAS LAND a documentary on FRACKING and its end results.. Then they and you Know that when fracking takes place it has contaminated the drink water wells for those people. Who even though probably sold their rights were promised that their water would be tested before and after drilling.. Of course the wells went bad. So bad that it does catch on fire and /or turned brown and undrinkable..   So if you decide to let them drill on your land : 1) Make them check your water as well as you  2) check it at least once a week if not every other day. 3)make sure you get millions for letting them drill  on your land or near you. only because if they don't contaminate your water you will be looking at the drill site and containers for the rest of your life. PLUS  your  ability to sell your home will greatly diminish..  


And to any one in Wisconsin who decides to let them drill and my water is contaminated I will sue you and them.. So you had better get a lot of good money..


  Fracking may provide jobs but the environment pays the cost. Plus all the MILLIONS  of Gallons of water  and chemicals used in fracking.. The chemicals are hazardous. In my eyes Its just not worth the risk of losing our future drinking water.. And last but not least the people who okayed  this were people in GOVERNMENT who stood to get rich from making laws that got around EPA laws.. 

Jan 24, 2013 5:42PM
Has "fracking" ever damaged water wells? Sure it has. Philips Petroleum fracked a well inside the city limits of Hobbs NM back in the 60"s. The land owners water well  next to Philips oil  well location turned  to oil. He proceeded to drill 10 more "water wells". The land owner got rich selling oil that should have stayed contained in Philips well. But Philips made a decision to do a cheap casing and cement program on that well.  There are incidents like this all over the "West. Most of these wells were drilled back in the 60's and 70's. But sense the oil and gas commissions were formed for state and deeded land , and BLM for federal lands came into the picture these problems have practically gone away.
Jan 24, 2013 5:31PM
Everybody keeps treating Fracturing like its some new untested dangerous technique that will poison fresh water and destroy the Earth.  Sorry Tree Hugging types but fracturing has been used for 70+ years and has been tested over and over again. I worked in the Petroleum Industry from the late seventies to the mid eighties and factured more than 500 wells in west Texas. Not once did we ever contaminate fresh water tables. Fracturing usually takes place at depths of 5000 ft or more as deep as 20,000 ft. Fresh water formations are usually less than 500 feet so its nearly impossible to contaminate fresh water. Also 99% of frack fluid is inert made of fresh water and lard. The only chenicals used are made to neutralize the fluid where the sand stays inside the crevices in the rock.  Then the fliud flows back out of the of the well into the pit.
Jan 24, 2013 5:02PM
I would bet that these homeowners who say they have contaminated water, don't own the mineral rights to the gas. In addition to that, I can show you places where there is no Marcellus Shale and the water naturally  has gas in it.
Jan 24, 2013 4:50PM
bottom line is they drill they make LOTS of money you get a little money when they contaminate the property its your property your bill for clean up thats big biz SCREW the property owner for profits
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 4:12PM

there is no actual documented cases of enviromental damages from fracking. my friend lives in mount bellvieu tx., near baytown & houston and even some of the houses there have what the call flare sticks in their back yards to relieve gas pressure in the ground. they've had them for years. there is no fracking going on there. just underground salt mines used for oil storage & natural gas!

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
Jan 24, 2013 3:36PM
Many replies seem to be criticizing this online posting but none of these people are providing their credentials or their motives in writing.  Critics of the online posting may be nothing more than people involved in the fracking business or worse yet partisan political hacks who get worked up in frenzy at the thought of any type of government regulation.  I have concerns over fracking as the technology is still new.  I have investments in oil and gas drilling and I would rather know of the problems earlier on such that I can get out before the severe problems occur.  
Jan 24, 2013 3:24PM
What a bunch of lying sacks of $hit. Most of you must be a bunch of D.C. republican lobbyists. 5,000 feet of solid rock, get real. All or most rock formations have natural fractures in them or water could never get thru them.  The only reason you are posting is to be sure your rich republican buddies make more money
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.
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 1:51PM
Drill, baby, Drill......they start my property this spring!  Good resource and good money! 
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.
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.
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 9:11AM
it's time to change the fracking process to chmr new  process
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. 
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