Hydraulic Fracking Q&A: Part II

Why is Horizontal Drilling Such a Big Deal?

Hydraulic fracturing forces oil and gas out of rock formations by pumping fluid into wells at high pressure. When done properly, the horizontal drilling employed in fracking squeezes natural gas from layers of underground rock that would otherwise be too difficult or expensive to access.

Conventional vertical drilling is limited in its ability to access oil. Meanwhile, frackers can pump roughly four million gallons of fluid as far as 10,000 feet underground at 4,200 gallons per minute. This pressurized fluid creates fissures in the shale around a borehole below ground level, and gas flows out of the rock formation and onto the surface.

Why is this so important? Since hydraulic fracturing allows for horizontal, L-shaped drilling, it’s now possible to tap into pockets of gas that are scattered throughout thin rock layers. This horizontal drilling commonly employed in fracking makes it easier for operations to tap into gas stores that would have been economically impossible a few years ago. This is especially important since America has already harvested many of the largest and most easily tapped gas deposits available.

Does Fracking Have Any Environmental Upsides?

Contrary to popular belief, fracking does have environmental benefits! According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, hydraulic fracturing helped produce so much natural gas in the last couple of years that gas prices dropped to a 10-year low during the winter of 2011-2012, which made it significantly more competitive with other types of fuel.

That’s great news when you consider how much cleaner natural gas burns than coal and oil. Not only does natural gas produces less carbon dioxide, but it also helped our country reduce its greenhouse gas emissions overall. Thanks to fracking, there has been a substantial shift among electricity generators away from coal and towards natural gas. This shift has been responsible for a significant part of our decline in national CO2 emissions.

In the US, the total greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels dropped roughly 2% from 2010 to 2011. Likewise, the U.S.’s total emissions have dropped by more than 7% from their 2005 peak! Today, only 40% of the country’s electricity comes from coal, down from 50% just a few years back.

BTL Liners Fields Your Questions

BTL Liners has been fabricating geomembrane liners for the oil and gas industry for nearly 40 years. Please contact us for custom project quotes and questions. One of our containment specialists will be happy to help you grow both your business and your understanding of this booming industry.


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