Fracking which is also known as hydraulic fracturing, hydrofracking, hydrofacturing or fraccing is a popular and a controversial well stimulation technique that is used for fracturing rocks by a hydraulically pressurized liquid. Amidst nature, certain veins on the rocks and dikes are examples of hydraulic fracturing in its natural form. During fraccing chemicals and sand which are suspended in water is injected inside the wellbores to produce cracks inside the subterranean deep-rocks, for harvesting petroleum and natural gas.
In this process, once the deep rocks achieves geological equilibrium, hydraulic pressure is detached from the wells while hydraulic fracturing propellants like aluminium oxide holds the fractured opening open for excavation of natural resources.
Fracking technique is most popularly used for increasing flow rate while harvesting tight gas, shell gas, coal stream gas and tight oil.
Fracking begun as an experiment in 1947 and thereafter it was successfully applied as a method for excavation of natural gas and oil in 1949. As per records 2.5 million fracking operations has been conducted till 2012, with 1 million operations which were performed within USA.
Although hydraulic fracturing has been considered as a risk to health and environment as it environmental impact on contamination of ground water, degradation of air quality, noise polluting factors, risk for triggering earthquakes has been a matter of great debate, nevertheless here a few essential benefits which highlights this well stimulation technique:
Resurgence of oil production in USA
Proponents of hydraulic fracturing technology have hailed it as a major development in the energy sector of the industry that has dramatically increased the production of natural gas in US and all over the world. It has allowed tapping of reserves of oil and gas those that were previously excessively difficult to reach. Fracking has not only lead to massive energy production expansion is some parts of USA, specially places like North Dakota but has also contributed to a resurgence of oil production in the country.
Led to rise in employment
As other industries in US sputtered after the 2008 economic recession, according to statistical data available on records, it has been found that oil and gas industry has remained as a bright spot in the US economy, with employment at its highest at the end of 2012 since 1987. According to records, due to the use of hydro fracturing technology, there has been a stable upward ascent in employment in the oil and natural gas sector, which slightly slowed down in 2009 but reached more than 198,000 by the end of 2012.
Benefits in trade balance
As fracking technology increased the extraction of oil and natural gas in USA, it created a direct impact on the energy trade balance between US and other countries around the globe. It has been found that while natural gas imports in US decreased by 25 % between 2007 and 2011, petroleum import also dropped from 29.24 quadrillion BTU to 24.74 quadrillion BTU in 2011. Although some may say that trade balance is not the measurement of welfare, but nevertheless it often reflects prosperity of the state which brings welfare for the people living in those states.
Helps in environmental protection
As natural gas production increased in USA, it has been found that electric generation plants has shifted to natural gas as natural gas prices dropped in the wake of its increased supply. According to environment protection agencies, as natural gas-fired electrical energy engenders half the amount of CO2 against coal-based electricity production, thus fracking is responsible for reducing this carbon dioxide emission from the electricity generation plants.
Drop in production prices in several industries
It has been found that a drop in natural gas prices will subsequently lead to a gradual drop in electricity prices in USA in the longer run. The same would be true also for other industries which pertains to chemical, fertilizer products and aluminum and steel industry, which depends on the price of petroleum for its infra-marginal profit gains.
It has indeed a matter of great pride to note that as per the World Factbook, that due to fracking technology, USA has been nominated as the second largest natural gas producer in 2011, just behind Russia.