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What Is Fracking And How Is It Being Kept Clean?

When it comes to horizontal directional drilling, one part of the process that has some concerned about the environment is fracking. Much is being done however, to clean up fracking and make it more environmentally friendly.

What is Fracking?

Fracking is a method used in the process of horizontal directional drilling. It's short for hydraulic fracturing, which is done to bring oil from deep underneath the surface up to the head of a well. Commonly used in shale formations, water, sand, and chemicals are injected into the rock formation at an extremely high pressure. This process causes fractures in the rock, forcing gas and oil from inside the formation to be released.

While fracking has been around for about 60 years, it wasn't a cost-effect way of attaining oil with vertical drilling practices. Only recently, with the advance of horizontal directional drilling, has it begun to be more widely used.

What Have the Concerns Been Regarding Fracking?

Many environmentalists, agriculturalists and others who work with on or with the land, have been concerned over the years about the potentially harmful effects of fracking. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Fracking uses huge amounts of water.
  • The chemicals used can potentially contaminate groundwater.
  • There is the possibility of producing small earth tremors.

Because of these concerns, fracking regulations have been tightened and oil companies are doing their part to make it as safe as possible.

What Is Being Done to Keep Fracking Clean?

To help combat the large quantities of water that are being used in fracking, some are developing waterless ways to frack. According to James Hill, chief executive of GasFrac in Calgary, Alberta, his company has produced a gel made from propane that gets injected into rock formations instead of water. Huge companies like GE and Halliburton are following GasFrac's lead. Other methods involve using recycled frack water (called brine) and using less harsh chemicals.

Another way fracking is becoming less harmful to the environment is by decreasing the use of diesel in the equipment and machinery used in fracking. Instead of using diesel-powered engines, engines that are powered by natural gas are being used instead. Other companies have resorted to getting their energy through solar panels, an entirely green form of energy. Still other green practices that are being established include capturing, storing, and shipping wastewater produced by fracking to water treatment plants and reducing methane emissions.

While there have been legitimate concerns when it comes to fracking, we can all be rest-assured that companies and environmental agencies are doing their part to keep fracking clean.