Frac Fluid & Hydraulic Fracking, what is the meaning of these terms?
What is Frac Fluid and what is Hydraulic Fracking?
These terms get thrown around quite a bit in both politics and the oil industry, and it can be easily misunderstood as well as confusing. Let’s drill down a bit deeper (no pun intended!) and discuss exactly what this terminology means.
Fracking is a term meaning “hyrdraulic fracturing” which is the fluid used in the gas and oil industries. This fluid is made up of about 90% water, 9.5% of common sand, while the remaining 0.5% is an extremely toxic chemical blend. Frac fluid is extremely dangerous to mammals and humans, with unknown or undisclosed health effects.
What does Frac Fluid do?
But before you condemn frac fluid, realize that there is a need for such dangerous compounds to maximize drilling operations. Frac fluid helps to increase the number of ex tractable hydrocarbons. The frac fluid also aids in preserving the drilling well, and decreases the rate of corrosion on the well. Finally, the frack fluid also acts as a lubricator in the extraction process, as well as reducing the number of clogs in the well and keeping the well bacteria-free.
Politics of Hydraulic Fracking
We also mentioned earlier that fracking is mentioned in politics. Moreover, most government officials from Presidents, Prime Ministers and world leaders are involved in hydraulic fracking laws, albeit many times on opposite sides of the same coin. For example, President Trump is intent on repealing former President Obama’s decision to allow and set standards for fracking on federal land. This decision is met with controversy from both the public and environmentalists groups, who are angry that the land is now unprotected from the oil industry. While the motives for such a law repeal aren’t as transparent as some feel they should be, it is most recent among several environmental rules the former president Obama had implemented and that the current President Trump is intent on changing.
Now that we know what “fracking” and “frac fluid” is, why do environmentalists hate fracking?”
Why Do Environmentalists Hate Fracking
Environmentalists are against fracking for many reasons, their main reason is that fracking prevents people from moving onto wind and solar powered energy sources, and although unsubstantiated, fracking also causes air and water pollution.
They also claim that many gas wells and pipelines aren’t sealed properly, which results in a dangerous greenhouse gas called methane to leak out. Some of these leaks could affect climate change and lower carbon dioxide emissions, as well as increase carbon dioxide emissions due to natural gases being burned. And although Fracking does pose some risks to ground water and surface lands, like everyone else, environmentalists enjoy natural gas heating along with gas powered automobiles.
While we can’t blame all of global warming on the oil companies, environmentalists are quick to point the finger at major oil companies. Now before you jump on the environmentalist bandwagon and start hating fracking and oil companies, realize just how major of a transition changing from coal to oil has been. Burning oil has more than halved the amount of CO2 emissions produced when compared to burning coal.
It has also helped to reduce CO2 emissions by 10% since 2005. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has stated that using oil is a “bridge” to a cleaner future. This bridge is certainly a slowly built one, but it is progress nonetheless. Burning oil has been touted as a wildly successful environmental change, one that has helped companies to lessen their carbon footprint. However, Environmentalists seek to eliminate Fracking completely and argue that solar panels and windmills are better for the environment, and that oil prevents that from happening sooner.
Frac Fluid Hauling
We’ve already mentioned that frac fluid is primarily made up of water. Here’s where frac fluid hauling comes in: water is being hauled to mix into the frac fluid to use for fracking. Much like gasoline tankers, there are water tankers which can haul large quantities of water to fracking sites. Not to mention, fracking also leaves waste, (namely, contaminated water) which is fracking’s largest draw back.
Yet, waste frac fluid can be re-used in the following three ways:
- It can be treated to be cleaned to have the contaminants removed;
- It can also be reused in other fracking jobs
- Finally, it can be administered into specialized wells.
In North America, the regulations of what to do with fracking waste is determined by each federal, local state and provincial governments as they see fit.
Finally, Hydraulic Fracturing is responsible for a large portion of the oil and gas industry; without this technology, there would be much more work and much less profit. While this industry does indeed have its pros and cons, fracking has made oil and gasoline harvesting much easier. Read more Oil Patch Blog posts.
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