The answer to the question “Why frack?” is fairly simple.
Energy demands globally show no signs of slowing, and population growth and increased energy consumption per capita continue to drive dependence on global sources of energy.
Industrial, commercial, agricultural, and individual needs for energy continue to increase and draw on current resources. Fracking is seen as one of the main sources of energy to support rapid industrial growth in South America, Asia, and Eastern Europe. Established countries, including the U.S. where fracking has been growing steadily, are looking to fracking as a way to achieve greater energy independence.
A Worthy Investment?
Despite technology developments for other renewable energy sources, like wind or solar energy, oil and gas production is currently still cheaper than most renewable resources. Using multiple energy sources typically is the best strategy to take advantage of local resources, subsidies, and global economic influence. Tapping into underground fuel sources is gaining interest globally, and it is a resource that will continue to be harnessed.
Comparing available energy resources to the cost of accessing new resources often determines if fracking will be done in a region. Advancements in drilling are making previously untapped or under-tapped energy reservoirs accessible in many countries.
Fracking can help to lower natural gas prices. It also can help stimulate the local economy by employing a local workforce and bringing increased business to an area.
On the Right Track?
Previously, multiple vertical wells had to be drilled to access underground resources. That often prevented resources to be tapped due to limitations of developed roads in the area, the amount of equipment and water required to be moved to each drill site. However, advancements in horizontal drilling have eliminated the need for multiple vertical wells at a fracking site.
This means fuel-rich deposits now can be harvested from previously unreachable locations. Government regulations, and ecological and financial impacts, including availability of developed roads, access to water sources, pollution limitations, land ownership rights, and tax requirements, still must be considered in each region.
Containing production to a single drilling site improves costs and reduces local interference because all materials come in and out of a single location. Pipelines, service, traffic, and surface presence are localized at a single site while the underground resources are extracted from beds that may be miles away. Air emissions, local water usage, waste disposal, and local traffic are all reduced by having only one drill location.
In early shale exploration, vertical drilling tapped only the easiest-to-reach reservoirs. As technology continues to advance the process and its safety, fracking is becoming more popular. In most cases a standard process can be followed to quickly and efficiently access one or more fuel reservoirs.
Did you know you’ve just read the last article in our four-part Fracking Series? Catch up with our first post, where we breakdown What is Fracking, Anyway? Then follow up on your research by learning how Today’s Current Technologies are Making the Fracking Process Safer.