America is truly in the midst of a revolution in oil and natural gas.
America is truly in the midst of a revolution in oil and natural gas. The oil and natural gas industry is one of the few industries that have created jobs throughout the recession and is the nation’s fastest growing manufacturing sector. New and evolving technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing have allowed oil and gas companies to access reserves of previously-unrecoverable oil and natural gas. Our nation’s energy security is being enhanced with the discovery of about 20 new onshore oilfields over the past few years that could collectively increase the nation’s oil output by 25%, add $1 trillion to the U.S. economy, and add 1.3 million new jobs within a decade. But the oil from these tightly-packed rocks can be extracted only by using hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process consisting of pumping a mixture of water and sand at high pressure into isolated zones to enhance the natural fractures that exist in the formation. During the process, long, narrow cracks are created to serve as a flow channel for oil and natural gas trapped in the formation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ground Water Protection Council, hydraulic fracturing fluids consist of about 99.5% water and sand. Small amounts of other compounds, like detergent, make up the remaining 0.5% of the fluid.
Hydraulic fracturing has been effectively regulated by state governments and oversight agencies since its inception in 1947. As a matter of fact, the first well to be hydraulically fractured in the U.S. was in Grant County, Kansas in 1947. At both the federal and state level, all of the laws, regulations, and permits that apply to oil and natural gas exploration and production activities also apply to hydraulic fracturing. In addition to the extensive federal and state regulatory apparatus in place to regulate hydraulic fracturing, potential risks to ground water is further reduced by physical factors such as vertical distance between the fractured zone and ground water (ranging from about 1,000-8,000 feet or more) and geological barriers to fluid migration.
Hydraulic fracturing has been deployed more than 57,000 times in Kansas since 1947 with no documented cases of groundwater contamination. In addition, hydraulic fracturing has been deployed over 1.2 million times across the U.S. over the course of 65 years without a single verified or documented instance of harm to ground water. As a matter of fact, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson stated on April 28, 2012 “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracturing process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Environmental activists continue to manufacture debate over hydraulic fracturing and generate unreasonable anxiety around the country over chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process. Despite a clear and compelling history of effective state regulation, environmental groups continue to misrepresent facts about hydraulic fracturing and offer ideas about hydraulic fracturing that are often contradictory or otherwise separated from reality. These groups assertions are often out of context and need additional information to help promote a more complete and informed discussion. The oil and gas industry has strong incentives to maintain a high level of environmental performance and work hard to review and improve operations and communication with the public. I encourage everyone to watch the movie “TRUTHLAND” which tells the story of a lady who had a lot of questions about hydraulic fracturing and the facts and answers she found. You can view the movie at www.truthlandmovie.com.
Hydraulic fracturing is of critical importance to our national security and economic recovery. The technology is better today than it has ever been and regulations are broader and more stringent. Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technology that industry has demonstrated time and again can be used safely.