Just The Facts

Fracking: The Circus Comes to Town

What does it take to set up a natural gas fracking operation?

Shale gas drilling in Poland. (Credit: Nightman1965 - Shutterstock.com)

Takeaways


  • During fracking, a 10-story rig is assembled to drill a hole up to 10,000 feet deep.
  • Fracking creates thousands of tiny cracks in bedrock to free the oil or gas.
  • A fracking drill site can be active anywhere from three weeks to three months.
  • After a fracking site is closed, the well is capped with a valve several feet tall.

1. Each shale gas well requires earth-moving machinery to create a flat 1- or 2-acre pad of compressed earth.

2. Next, a 10-story rig is assembled to drill a hole up to 10,000 feet deep.

3. After that, the well is “fracked” – the process of bedrock fracturing with hydraulics – creating thousands of tiny cracks in the rock that free the oil or gas.

4. That requires heavy equipment: truck-sized containers of water and sand, mixers, stadium lighting, pumps, chemical storage and injection vans and recreational-vehicle command centers to orchestrate the operation.

5. The arrival of the drilling rig and fracking equipment has been described as “sounding like setting up of a circus, more or less.”

6. The fracking process can last anywhere from three weeks to three months.

7. Once drilling and fracking ends, the gear moves to the next well and a valve several feet tall is installed.

From Energy Boom Puts Wells in America’s Backyards by Russell Gold and Tom McGinty (Wall Street Journal)

 

 

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