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 21, 2012 12:57AM
I'd rather have clean water than their FRACKING gas.
Dec 20, 2012 11:12PM

Well I'm just hoping to make it through a couple more days anyway....Just to see who or what will make the next doomsday prediction...

It has been a challenging week. 

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....???


Dec 20, 2012 9:29PM

While the debate about fracking goes on , why do insurance companies refuse to insure property leased to gas companies?

NY state did a study on fracking,they found that leased property is pretty much "verboten" if an energy company has leased it. This economic subject is not spoken about publicly,why not?

It kind of goes with their "secret" actuarial preparation of coastal property and the 'climate change / sea level rise, that's "not happening."

I agree we need to exploit our resources here, I'm not convinced it's very safe for our water supply.

As an aside, I WOULD like to know what Dick Cheney and his oil company buddies, decided in their closed "energy policies" discussion! They certainly received enough exemptions on disclosure,etc.

As for the Keystone pipeline, why won't Canada permit it?

For everyone who believes all the benefits it's supposed to bring,that oil WILL be refined and put on OPEN market. Not just for "us".

Pretty much the same for the natural gas extracted.

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 8:27PM
They will kill us all and tell us it's for our own good.
Dec 20, 2012 8:04PM

Something that wasn't mentioned in this little piece ( at least i didn 't see it) is increased earthquake activity in areas around where fracking is being done. I lived south of Youngstown for a while and when we bought our home we had to buy insurance to protect us from our home falling into an abandonded mine. No choice we had to buy it. It seems there are so many old mines in that area that are not maped the only thing that could be done was force people to have insurance incase thier hose sank into an old shaft/

      Now youngstown experienced a multitude of mino quakes while fracking was going on and they stopped when the fracking did after a month or so. The problem I see is fracking in areas like the one we lived in and fracking is going to happen there soon. How many homes will be lost adn maybe even lives lost when fracking causes enough movement in those old mining areas that they begin to collapse ? We moved this summer but three fuel plants are being erected whithin 15 miles of where our home was and mineral rights have been bought up in the last year like dogs fighting over a scap of meat.

Dec 20, 2012 7:28PM

This ball is rolling and has gained enough speed that can't be stopped by the average Joe.  You will be fighting big money and our honest counterparts in DC.  We will systematically destroy yet another valuable and non replaceable resource in the quest of the dollar.  When will they ever learn? 

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 5:34PM
Heck, getting hot water for no cost is cool. What's the problem? Other than, maybe the 10,000 that are obvious.
Dec 20, 2012 5:28PM
There is no good when our aquifers are compromised. Once they are, it is forever.
Dec 20, 2012 4:04PM
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