Despite what you may have heard, hydraulic fracturing (often called “fracing” and incorrectly written as “fracking”) is not a drilling process. It’s a procedure that takes place after the drilled hole, or wellbore, is completed. Put simply, hydraulic fracturing is the use of fluid and material to create or restore small fractures in a formation to stimulate production from new and existing oil and gas wells. These fractures are so small that they’re propped open by granules of sand, called proppant. This creates enough space to release the natural gas trapped in the rock and allow it to safely rise to the surface within the self-contained system.
Since being introduced commercially in the 1940s, the hydraulic fracturing process has been successfully used in over one million producing wells. Today, fracing is used in a ajority of U.S. oil and natural gas wells to enhance well performance, minimize drilling and recover otherwise inaccessible energy resources.
In fact, 90% of all natural gas wells drilled in America use fracing to increase production, and there has never been a single case of groundwater pollution caused by the underground fracing process.
The fracing process is essential to developing the clean-burning natural gas resources of the Marcellus Shale. That’s because the formation exists a mile or more below the surface. These depths plus the solid nature of the shale make the gas trapped in the ormation difficult to develop. Successful wells must produce a large amount of natural gas to justify the time, effort and expenses involved in creating and maintaining them.
Water is a necessary part of the fracing process because it acts as a carrier fluid for the propping agents. Cabot uses approximately 3,990,000 gallons of water in our Susquehanna County wells – and approximately 3,780,000 gallons of that is used for fracing. While this may seem like a lot, it’s equal to a mere 5.5 minutes of water usage on a typical day in New York City.
Cabot also utilizes a closed-loop system to recycle up to 100% of the water used in our operations for use in later operations. This greatly reduces the volume of fresh water taken from local rivers and creeks while eliminating the need for open fluid pits.
At Cabot, we believe it’s essential to develop domestic energy resources to reduce our dependence on foreign energy. That’s why hydraulic fracturing plays such an important role in homegrown energy production. Without hydraulic fracturing America would lose close to half of its natural gas production. That’s too significant to ignore – especially since the fracing process has been proven so safe and effective for over half a century of oil and gas exploration