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Topic 3: Fracking

Henry Tan's picture

Safety Engineering and Risk Management Debate 2012

Discussion Topic 3: Is fracking for shale gas safe and without damage to community environment? Should it be banned?


michael saiki's picture Hydrogen Energy as another source of energy is been harnessed and as an alternative energy source. and it is produced by the process of decarbonizing fossil fuels i.e by removing Carbondioxide from from Fossil Fuels. The hydrogen is stored to produce Electricity.

Petroleum Coke suplemented by coal is heated to gas by High temperature and Pressure to produce H2 and CO2 and then the CO2 is injected into the Oil fields which pushes up Oil while the CO2 remains trapped in the impervious Reserves.

CO2 produced from fossil fuels has been responsible for the green house effect and the climate change challenges that is going on right now. There is therefore the need to harness this energy source

How better can we harness this energy? what are the Safety concerns? how can we increase interest? Instead of this risky Shale Fracturing Quest.

Ronald Peters's picture

Very good,

I found two useful sources on risk  and project management 

michael saiki's picture   h    Looking beyond the imminent value in Exploration and production of Shale Gas. What could possibly go wrong  is a major factor? we must try to unravel.According to Dr Anthony R. Ingraffea

1. Gas, drilling Fluid, Brine migrationup through  well structures

2. Gas Frack fluids, produced water migration up from the fracked formation

3. Sink into table water with possible harmful effect

4. Escape of harmful Gases during extraction human efficiency cannot be relied upon e.g Methane has contriuted to global warming

5. Radioactive waste products(Radium 26)

6. Frack flowback contains carcinogenic substances

7. Blowout through neraby unknown abandoned wells (Pearsall Texas, November 2010) 

8. Fracturing stimulation can result into communication with adjacent wells during drilling

if any of these happens this accident could be devastating as man has not shown enough capacity to respond to such accidents

Michael Saiki

Brenda Amanda's picture

Someone (whose name I do not recall) once said that the one
thing we learn from history is that man does not learn from history.

Throughout history we have heard of and witnessed
earthquakes as a naturally occurring disaster and have seen the devastation that
always follows (Chile 1960, Indonesia 2004, Japan 2011 and so many others) and
still we invent and use technologies that will definitely induce seismic
activity. It is crazy.

While the benefits of hydraulic fracturing or fracking for
shale gas have been noted, especially in the United States where the method has
been used longest, it is imperative that we protect our earth by all means

Maybe once we have studied the probability theories about
risk assessment, I will be able to make a more analytical discussion of whether
or not the technology should be banned given its pros and cons, but right now,
my stand is that anything that exposes mother earth to warranted risks should
not be allowed until mitigation measures have been taken at the very least.

One report 1    shows
that shale fracking has been linked to low magnitude tremors but there is a
possibility that the magnitudes of the tremors will increase and before long,
earthquakes or other seismic related disasters could be upon us.

At the very least, the technology should be suspended
pending more research and more adequate methods of mitigating the obvious
effects of the technique. Inducing of seismic activities ( however minor),
pollution of ground water aquifers, not to mention green house gas emissions
(at a time when the whole world is trying to reduce our carbon print ) are
things that we should not be taken lightly.

Crazy indeed!!!

De Peter,C.J,  Baish S., Geomechanical Study of Bowland Shale
Seismicity, 2nd November 2011.

Emmanuel Mbata's picture

All new technologies involve trial and error, and a certain amount of figure-it-out-as-we-go. Regulations are emerging as the technology is implemented and evolves. Small wild-catters who cut corners are curtailed. We make mistakes and recover from them.

Managing risk is very different from eliminating risk. There can be no progress without risk; the economy does not function without risk. Demand prudent regulation, yes. Punish violators, yes. But please don't demand the elimination of risk, as that is impossible, and always has been.

Natural gas, by the way, is essential in the short term to allow us to shut down coal plants, and in the long term to provide load balancing for intermittant renewable sources of power. We will not manage our climate change problems without cheap fracked natural gas, so embrace the technology and encourage its improvement.

max0yang's picture


I totally agree with you. I certainly like your "Figure-it-out-as-we-go" description. The world can NOT move forward without any risk-takings. Coal Mining was seen as a "suicide" action, but the history has proven that the benefits that coal mining activities have brought to us. If we always hesitate on applying advanced technologies, regulations won't mature themselves from the many mistakes we are about to make or supposed to make.

So shale gas drilling should be undertaken with not only Cautious but also Confident.

Brenda Amanda's picture

Max and Emmanuel, I would like to
point out that I did not state that shale gas should not be extracted. The point
I try to put across is that caution should be exercised when using some of the
current technology. France and Holland are taking a more cautious approach;
Canada in 2011 had a moratorium to temporarily stop the fracking for shale.

More recently, on 15th
October 2012, the Canadian government released the results of a study [1] into
the way forward as far as shale gas in the country is concerned. The team had a
report with 14 recommendations. I will only point out one or two.

‘[T]he government should choose
two or three sites for hydro-fracking research and development, where
regulation could be tested for their effectiveness…..All other drilling should
stop but mapping, including seismic exploration should continue.’

This is a great example of how
the negative environmental issues associated with fracking for shale gas can be
put into consideration and mitigation measures put in place. I would like to
point out that this is what I meant to emphasis in my earlier post. Caution!


Kyeyune Joseph's picture

fracking for shale gas


Shale gas is an important unconventional energy source. Its importance is growing day by day. For example, it is expected to provide over half the natural gas production in North America by 2020. [1] With dwindling conventional oil and gas reserves, shale gas is predicted to be a major energy source in the future. Shale gas is recovered by fracking. This is fracturing a rock by drilling it vertically and then horizontally so as to release natural gas. Process involves injection of water with chemicals at high pressures. Thereafter, propants like sand are pumped in to keep the fractures open for the gas to migrate to the wellbore. Intention is to provide a higher permeability flow path from a large section of the reservoir to the wellbore.


Fracking as a process is not completely safe. As King G.E, [2] put it; there aren’t any human endeavours without risk. Fracking has a number of issues that include the following;


ü  Carbon emissions from drilling operations especially if diesel engines are used as a source of power. This affects air quality


ü  Migration of gases especially methane that compromises safety of ground water sources


ü  Chemical spills from transportation, storage reserves and piping network as well as flow back.


ü  Habitat loss due vegetation fragmentation especially during operations. This presents serious ecological impacts


ü  Noise during drilling especially in urban centres. High volumes of hydraulic fracturing operations create significantly more noise than conventional natural gas operations due to the volumes and pressures required to stimulate formations successfully.[1]


ü   High volumes of water required for operations may alter local sources as they are overdrawn


Despite the above issues as fronted mainly by environmentalists, the following arguments may be valid regarding them;


ü  Very few chemicals are used during fracking. Almost 98% of the fluid is water. Besides, some of the chemicals blamed for pollution originate from agricultural sources like pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and carry over into fresh water sources.  These same chemicals can as well be found in water sources in areas where fracking has never been done!


ü  Migration of gases especially methane cannot be entirely blamed on fracking.  King G.E, [2] noted that increasing methane content in water wells may be coming from nearby improperly constructed gas or oil wells. This is due to faults that may connect such wells.


ü  Use of technologies like horizontal wells and multiple well pads can reduce surface impacts as several wells can be accessed from a single well pad.


Critical analysis of the above reveals that not all the negative impacts are as a result of the technology. Other safety issues associated with it can as well be reduced to lower their impacts. Therefore, given the increased importance of shale gas, it is not necessary to ban fracking but improvements can be made to make the technology safer. 



[1] Arthur, J.D., Coughlin, B.J. & Bohm, B.K. 2010, "Summary of Environmental Issues, Mitigation Strategies, and Regulatory Challenges Associated With Shale Gas Development in the United States and Applicability to Development and Operations in Canada", Canadian Unconventional Resources and International Petroleum Conference. Society of Petroleum Engineers, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 19-21 October 2010.            SPE 138977


[2] King, G.E. 2012, "Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbour and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells", SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference. Society of Petroleum Engineers, the Woodlands, Texas, USA, 6-8 February 2012. SPE 152596  



Kingsley ENEM's picture

Is fracking for shale gas safe and without damage to community environment? Should it be banned?           

 Fracking consists of drilling down into shale formations and fracturing the rock using explosives or hydraulic pressure. Water is pumped in containing sand particles that prop open the cracks in the shale, allowing gas out, and a tiny of chemicals.  

 The operation of fracking is very safe and should not be banned because there is very little damage from fracking-induced quakes. Also shale exploration will not cause reverberations bigger than those previously experienced from coal mining. The possibility of upward leak is very low due to the thousands of feet of impermeable rock between the shale and the surface. Presently, there are comprehensive data that establishes, without doubt, that state regulation together with developments in industry practices results in a low risk of an environmental event occurring in shale development and the risk continuously reduce yearly.  

 Fracking decreases the reliance on coal, which is the greatest thing we can do to improve air quality and combat climate change. Recent gas fired power plants create efficiently no sulphur dioxide and no mercury or poisonous ash pollution. It uses less water and generates about a quarter the carbon dioxide pollution of coal. The more natural gas we produce, the more swiftly we will be capable of eliminating dirty burning coal plant.  

 Also, it is good for patrons by helping reduce energy costs. Fracking has helped encourage key infrastructure investments that will quickly bring first new interstate natural-gas pipeline to New York City.  

 Fracking for natural gas can be as good for our environment as it is for our economy and our wallet but only if done responsibly.

  Kingsley ENEM

Ryan Grekowicz's picture

Without thoroughly studying the Environmental Impact Assessments that have compiled on the subject, it's tough to say for sure if it is truly without risk.  But from working in the oil and gas industry for several years, I have learned the following things that lead me to believe that fracking is safe.

1.  Oil and Gas companies go through very extensive measures to ensure that there is no harm to the environment.  If a new development pollutes the environment, that development will not be profitable; therefore, an oil/gas company would not knowingly engage in an activity which has a high risk of polluting the environment.  If somebody could prove that fracking was the cause of polluting groundwater, the company responsible for the fracking would be overwhelmed with lawsuits.

2.  All activities related to the oil/gas industry are highly regulated and extensive permitting is usually required.  This provides a "checks and balances" type arrangement where the regulators can conduct audits and inspections to ensure that the oil/gas companies are adhering to the rules.  Regulators are not going to permit an activity which they believe is at high risk of polluting the environment.

3.  You can never believe what you hear in the media or from non-governmental organizations.  They usually don't have expertise on the subject, and just go by the motto that "All oil/gas development is bad".

Obviously my opinions are not absolute, and there are exceptions to all my points, but I feel in general, it would not make good business sense for an oil/gas company to conduct fracking, unless they were fairly certain that the activity was safe; meaning that it fell somewhere within the green part of the risk matrix from lecture 2. 

Toby Stephen's picture

I'd love to agree with you Ryan and I think you raise some very good points but from my experience there are so many unknown variables regarding fracking that it's pretty inconclusive either way. I found this article pretty interesting [1], from the German government's perspective "In summary, we conclude that a great deal of fundamental information needed to make a valid assessment of these risks (fracking) is missing". Obviously big companies do their research and have to gain permits and approvals but there is a huge degree of unknown with fracking on a field scale, even with the best possible scenario modelling.

I think you're right about the lawsuits and that there would be a lot more if there was proven to be a direct link, although I can tell you from experience (I worked in Queensland, Australia for a few months with a coal seam gas firm) that there were several court cases unfolding against some of the big name companies down there. In that part of the world, farmers are generally very much against fracking. 




Toby Stephen

MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

max0yang's picture

Hello Toby


You are absolutely right, the gas fracking has been
questioned by many people since it first industrial application in 1970s,
clearly its drilling method is hardly considered to be safe for most of the
people, simply we can call it “Drilling into the unknown”.  There are many lawsuits against the fracking
drilling activities,especially many concerns are raised by farmers who worry
about their lands can be contaminated by the wastewater produced by the
drilling.  Another reason could also lead
to public concern, the volumes of water used to fracture shale are much higher
than other drillings.

However, on the other hand, Fracking is the only method that
we know so far to liberate gases from the impermeable rocks,  especially tight gas reservoirs locked in
sandstone.  By the year of 2035, 70% of
the US gas production will be supplied by the shale gas and tight gas sources,
we are facing the energy shortage crisis, so unlocking potential natural gas
reserves are the only way to go.

Figure source Newscientist:

 P.S The link doesn't work for me, could you please check it?



Toby Stephen's picture

Absolutely agree Yang and I'm not against fracking by any measure, in fact I'm all for it, but from my experience no amount of estimating/assessing/modelling can accurately predict the subsurface flow of associated contaminants. The link you provided works fine and I think it's a pretty good indicator of our dependance on oil and gas. This is re-iterated by the fact that despite constant public concern over fracking, it still goes ahead and will continue to do so as it opens up a whole new world of options for extraction, as you noted. As for the volume of water used in fracking you're spot on and at present it's usually either re-injected, placed in infiltration/evaporation ponds or recycled for another frac job, but I'm sure that as technology improves there will become much more viable options. 

Another interesting possibility for future oil and gas extraction is in 'coaxing' (in situ heating of immature hydrocarbons to speed up the natural retorting process - see [1], it's a link to the pdf download if interested) but that's a different option altogether.


[1] -


Toby Stephen
MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Aaron McKenna's picture

I wish to extend some of the points made by Yang and Toby. I agree that currently there are too many unknowns with regards to the fracking procedure for us to determine its overall safety. Although the US has been using it for several years now without any major issues, some countries have out right banned the procedure. I feel that this is perhaps a little bit of a PR stunt by these countries. Since it is a relatively new procedure, inevitability we have a lot to learn of the risks and dangers. Unfortunately, some of these may remain hidden until an incident occurs. This has always been the case for new technology, however the world today is a much more safety driven society than the one that initially started mining for oil centuries ago. Again perhaps fuelled by potential media backlash, I feel that the hesitant countries are perhaps waiting for the technology to further develop, which may include severe incidents occurring, before they deem it safe enough to delve into. My question is, as a society can we be TOO overly cautious about the risks? At some point implementation of a new technology is necessary if it is to be a genuinely viable solution, we cannot continually put this off whenever a new potential risk is uncovered, or else nothing ever would get past the design phase.

Toby Stephen's picture

Very good point made about societies potentially being 'too cautious' and this is a part of your other point about 'if it is to be a genuinely viable solution'. Fracking is inherently dependant on the society/country in question and their interpretation of viability. In terms of purely meeting the global energy demand then absolutely, but that's just one aspect (economic) of the triple bottom line approach which focusses on social, economic and environmental viability. The social and environmental costs of fracking are the ones constantly under question.     


Toby Stephen
MSc Oil & Gas Engineering

Patricia Fleitas's picture

The energy industry has grown in part, thanks to the process of "cause and effect". It means that as human we make mistakes. However, the best thing of it, is that we can look back, analyze the roots of the problems, study new technologies, apply and monitor. (Circular process)

If the Industry always "were fairly certain that the activity was safe", there won't be reported accidents around US. Nevertheless, the bad practices of some operators are giving a negative mark on public opinion. For sure, the technology need to be improved using best practices to avoid loss of containment, recycle fluids reducing at minimum the fresh water required, monitoring hazardous substances, sismic activities and performance adequate geological studies before start drilling activities. All of this look obvious, but there is not a clear legislation of every country that the operators can follow.

The technology is controversial, when you look at scientific papers there is not a conclusive opinion. But, all agree that it can be improved. I think that more scientific studies that can proof the roots of the failures in shale gas operations in US and analysis of lessons learned, would be positive for the public opinion, rather that argue that hydraulic fracking is 100% safe...

Just to make a reflection: Titanic was the most safe ship of the world and sank, Macondo deepwater were approved and executed successfully with all the studies and permitting required and we know the final result...the lesson: we still need to work together with all the organism (government, University, operators, environmental agencies, community) to adapt our industry to ALARP.

Etienne Gunter's picture

Looking at what is being published in the media, I think it is too early to
say it is safe.

An article (there are many) [1] states that apart from the contamination
of ground water, the another concern is the emissions that result from the
process. A study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA, is
being conducted in order to determine the effects of fracking. The result is
only expected in 2014. It is quite clear that we still need to find out more
regarding the effects of fracking.

What I do find interesting is that the article also states: "In 2005,
Congress excluded most fracking activities from federal regulation with the
Energy Policy Act".

Could it be that the government do not want to curb the “exploration” of
fracking with unnecessary regulation at this stage (until the technology is
mature), or is there another reason?

What will Congress do regarding regulation when the EPA finally publishes
their findings in 2014?

Will we forfeit one natural resource (water) in order to gain another (gas).




Derek Porter.'s picture

Etienne, I would like to give my opinion on your post.
I am in favor of shale gas extraction because of the following points:

  • The ‘large' amount of water than is used for hydraulic fracturing is so minimal compared to the percentage of the earth crust that does contain water. There are thousands of gallons of water under our feet, what will a few hundred more mean to us??
  • In the US, Canada and UK (most common areas for protests) the majority of water is filtered and tested to very high levels anyway thus removed any chemicals.
    These chemicals have probably come from the earth crust anyway; there are already thousands of chemicals in the crust (maybe only taken from different areas)
  • Large European bodies have ensured shale gas extraction is safe as shown in Ref 1
  • Very little research and evidence has been produced showing the dangers (if it is such a large problem why is there no evidence of earthquakes, poisoning, large quantities of chemicals in water etc) (Ref 2) 

Taking these points into account I can say I am in favour of shale gas extraction.

Ref 1: Lewis, B. (12 November 2012). Shale gas need regulation not a ban: European Parliament. Reuters [Online] Available from :
Ref 2: Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing, Edited* by William H. Schlesinger, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, NY, and approved April 14, 2011 (received for review January 13, 2011)

amaka.ikeaka's picture

The world today is very energy-dependent, and most of the newly developed energy generation methods are often met with criticism based on their negative health and environmental effects.

Oil and natural gas are excellent sources of energy, and they are present in deep shale formations. Hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking", is used to fracture this formation. Oil and gas are then released and travel through the fractures towards a collection well.

Hydraulic fracturing provides a "greener" energy option, job opportunities and reduces the dependency on foreign imports (oil). Some studies however, argue that this technology could endanger the lives of citizens. This endangerment can done by the use of toxic chemicals and the contamination of the groundwater sources in its operation, which could subsequently lead to illness in local residents, and leakage of natural gas into water supplies in homes causing destruction.

The current practices of hydraulic fracturing are unacceptable from a health point of view, but according to research, it has been predicted that the world's energy demand will increase by 32-40% over the next twenty years [1]. Therefore, it would be a waste to abandon the hydraulic fracturing technology, especially with North America sitting atop a vast resource of natural gas. However, it is important that necessary steps are taken to amend the groundwater contamination caused by the fracking technology. This can be achieved by using sand as a proppant, and pressurized water in place of diesel as the fracking fluid. This methodology presents no health risks to the residents who depend on groundwater for their everyday lives. In addition, if fluid additives, which are used for gas shale stimulations, must be used, they should be non-toxic.


[1] U.S Energy Information Administration. 2010. Canada Energy Profile. www.eia/gov/cfapps/country/country_energy_data.cfm?fips=CA.



Lee Soo Chyi's picture


increasing number of groups are being set up in the UK, USA, and Poland to
oppose local plans to drill for the shale gas. The process which is often
called fracking, is controversial, with claims that it harms the environment
i.e water contamination, noise, “mini” earthquake, etc.

is banned in France and Switzerland. However, the practice is now widespread in
the US. Recently, it becomes a hottest topic in the US Presidential Election
debate. It shows that the safety of energy sector and government policy is
closely related. President Barack Obama said government must focus on safe
development of the energy resource, without putting the health and safety of
citizens at risk.
In UK, a panel of experts appointed by the UK government
ruled that fracking could continue, but under strict conditions and some
additional safety measures tacked on.

short, the industry must win public confidence by demonstrating exemplary performance;
governments must ensure that appropriate policies and regulatory regimes are in
place in order to assure the safety of the industry, public and environment.
Social and environmental impacts must be addressed properly.



Soo Chyi, Lee

Elle Allswell David's picture

Fracking is the process of hydraulic fracturing which involves drilling a hole deep into the dense shale rocks that contain natural gas, then pumping in at very high pressure vast quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals. This opens up tiny fissures in the rock, through which the trapped gas can then escape. It bubbles out and is captured in well that brings it to the surface, where it can be piped off [ ]. The proppant holds the fractures open, allowing hydrocarbons to flow into the wellbore and so to the surface. 

Controversies about Shale Gas.  [ key risks and impacts] 

  • Contamination of groundwater by fracturing fluids.
  • Contamination of land and surface water arising from spillage.
  • Land and landscape impacts from drill rig and storage tanks.
  • Seismic impacts. 

Geolocically speaking, the bedrock between the fracked site and the surface is so dense that it makes it impossible for frack fluid to travel upward thousands of feet, or between rock formations and into fresh water aquifers. 

The well casings are cemented in place and if there is a leakage it will be corrected by squeezing cements into that very spot as this is done by experts in the industry.

Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in more than one million U.S wells. There has not been any report of contamination of the fresh water aquifer. 

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Council, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission all have found hydraulic fracturing nonthreatening to the Environment or Public Health [Ohio Department of Natural Resources ].

Fracking for Shale gas is safe but I will also advice more research be carried out in this field and the public should be enlightened in this process of energy recovery.


c.ejimuda's picture

Used hydraulic fracturing fluid can contain up to 750 distinct chemicals, ranging from benign to toxic. Current methods of treatment/disposal are via municipal or industrial wastewater treatment facilities or re-injection deep into the earth to reduce treatment costs. Until more detailed research is undertaken on the potential of fracking chemicals/gas/wastewater from unconventional wells to migrate through permeable or superficial deposits into groundwater resource, I would like to say without any equivocation that fracking is not safe for the environment. Also, more data is needed on the ability of industrial and municipal wastewater treatment facilities to remove contaminants from used hydraulic fracturing fluid. Not to mention the added problem of tremors (micro-earthquakes) that could be triggered by the fracturing process and the re -injection of wastewater deep into the earth at many separate sites - to avoid wastewater treatment.  I would suggest that an outright moratorium is placed on shale gas development, halting all projects until after an independent environmental assessment looking into whether shale gas can be extracted while respecting the environment is finished. Now, I am not suggesting that we should be risk averse to new methods and technology but we should not jump on the bandwagon either, until it can be demonstrated that risks associated with groundwater contamination from fracking can be reasonable managed or mitigated. 


Smith, T., (2012). ‘Fracking poses risk to water systems’, Postmedia News, 6 August, 2012

Patricia Fleitas's picture

Hydraulic fracking is not a new a technology, however the high cost of production made this technology inefficient for a long time. The US requirement to diversify its energy matrix made possible that hydraulic fracking gain ground shifting and deferring most LNG projects worldwide and even worst causing a collapse in natural gas prices.

The ambitious target of US to develop their 862TCF of recoverable unconventional reserves and the desire of other countries to be energy independent, has brought the controversial question over if the balance between safety and benefit of this technology is adequate enough to give the GREEN LIGHT. In order to respond this question, the further brief analysis of potential hazards have been identified as follows:

1. Potential risk of leakages. Bad practices from some operators and lack of governmental offices that ensure best practices could be the reason of some contaminations reported.  Environmental drilling programs (EDP) need to be coupled to the geological characteristics of each zone. Strong prescription legislation on well casing can contribute to reduce the risk of Leakages to levels of ALARP.

2. Possible contaminations of water aquifers. Despite the fact that hydraulic fracturing is carrying on under thousands meters way of aquifer locations, there is not clear evidence that the high pressure to fracture the rock can extend the fissure producing a potential risk of underwater contamination (uncontrolled explosion). Once again, the mitigation of pressure control, geological data and monitoring of aquifer quality must be understood better.

3. Hazardous chemicals. The chemicals used to stimulate the wells are “secret formula” for corporate reasons. An analysis of hazardous substances for operators and monitoring of chemicals must be performed, and more knowing that currently, the offshore operations in the north sea are toward the “ZERO harmful discharge of substances” and is likely that the best practices will spread around Europe countries.

4. Amount of fresh water required. Around 5 million gallons of water was required per well in the Marcellus field. New technologies proposed the recycle of fluids in order to reduce the amount of fresh water required, but IT IS NOT A PRESCRIPTIVE LEGISLATION IN US. In the British scientist festival held in our University of Aberdeen, Join Chair Chris Spray explained that there is belief that the 3rd world war will be over water supply. So, knowing that fresh water is a precious natural resource essential to sustain life on the planet, I will support the idea that our energy industry MUST find solutions without compromise future generations.

5. Lack of disposal management of waste fluids. Disposal plans, injection of produced water to abandon wells, recycle of fluids and water treatment polices before discharge, can help to reduce the risk under tolerable levels ( ALARP). US storage the waste fluids in Open pits which in the case of UK it is prohibited due to air pollution.

6. Seismic concerns. Is a fact that this technology could be the cause of seismic in UK during its performance. Lack of adequate geologic studies and regulatory regime were the reasons of inadequate best practices.  Monitoring of seismic under acceptable level should be performed during operations.
The evidence suggests that there is not a final conclusion over banned the hydraulic fracking technology; however there is a clear evidence that each government must be trained and prepare to develop a strong regulatory frame and environmental permits required to set limits on this technology and manage the risk under acceptable limits. If at the end the activity has an unacceptable risk, it would be prohibited.

Mark Nicol's picture

When you
research fracking there are a lot of organisations and people that are against
it, as they think it will pollute the water (farmers) or cause earthquakes
(general public).

water management is very important in the fracking process, even though the
drilling is taking place beneath the aquifers as has been mentioned previously.
If there were to be a leak that somehow got into the drinking water, not only
would it be very dangerous to the general public, due to the chemical content,
it would probably end fracking in the UK, which could possibly be bad for the

There was
an incident in Blackpool where they were fracking and it caused a small
earthquake (ref 2). The press jumped all over this incident and it was in the
news quite a bit at the time. The press succeeded in putting the fear factor
into the public over this small incident. To put it into perspective and taken
from reference two:

 the Magnitude 2.3 event in Blackpool last year - that is like a lorry
going past your house - in fact the British Geological Survey can't measure
below Magnitude 2 in towns because of the traffic."





Etienne Gunter's picture

Attached is a link to an article [1] that depicts the US
government’s actions regarding fracking regulation over the past years.

From this it is quite clear that it the issue is very much
still political and regulation (if any) in an infant stage. As public pressure
amounts, permission is given to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to
investigate. But the EPA is struggling to keep up due to the rate of expansion
and the development of technology [2].  They claim that they are working with one hand
tied behind their backs.

Why not disclose all available information? Is industry afraid
of over-regulation or would it impact too much on profit margins?

If regulation is drawn up too late, the technology will
already be firmly established, in widespread use and it would be costly to change/adapt.

Initial laws regarding emissions and air pollution have only
recently been published; with companies being forced to make use of green
completion systems. This technology allows companies to capture gasses and
re-sell it, bringing costs down [4]. This is a good example of regulation
influencing the development of technology, and having a positive spin-off (for
all) in the end.

The question remains, when will the issue of groundwater
pollution be addressed?





Joan.C.Isichei's picture

Regarding Etienne’s question about the issue of groundwater contamination from fracking, I’ll like to say that the USA set up a panel to review the fracking process in some parts of the country given that the effect of fracking on groundwater supplies is yet to be fully and thoroughly investigated. In their report, the panel gave several recommendations of which the disclosure of all pollutants released and chemicals used in the fracking process was one[1]. I believe the reason for this recommendation is to study the effects of such chemicals and pollutants in ground water, and maybe determine how contaminated water can be cleaned up before use. However, this is a medicine after death approach and still begs the question “ what happens to groundwater”. In conclusion, only time will tell the true impact of fracking on the environment. In the mean time, as fracking provides economic benefits at the expense of the environment, I have an unwavering support for Ejimuda’s post which calls for a halt in fracking activities till a comprehensive study of its effect has been carried out.


1.    Keep on Fracking? Criticism Grows, but Impact Not Clear. The Electricity Journal. Volume 24, Issue 8, October 2011, Pages 4–5

Ryan Grekowicz's picture

I don't think that we will ever be able to say that any activity which we do in the oil and gas industry is "truly safe".  All we can hope for is that we can identify the risks, and put mitigation plans in place, but at times, these mitigation plans will fail because they are implemented by humans, and we are not perfect.  That being said, we can't completely halt all development because there are potentially negative consequences, but we can't just let development occur unregulated.  I believe through an extensive permitting process along with water quality sampling during development, we can safely execute fracking operations.  On those same lines, there are probably certain shale gas formations out there that shouldn't be developed because they are too shallow or too difficult to predict how they might react to fracking.

 There's been several references to farmers being concerned about the potential pollution resulting from fracking, which I appreciate, but one could also view that as hypocritical since one of the biggest pollutants in our rivers and oceans is fertilizer runoff from farming.  There is a huge "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of Mississippi River that is primarily due to fertilizer runoff.  It would be interesting to know how much of that fertilizer was made from the byproducts of the gas that was produced from fracking. 


Adejugba Olusola's picture

Adejugba Olusola

“Fracking”, which refers to Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection
of “fracturing fluids” or “pumping fluids” consisting primarily of water and
sand under high pressure into the producing formation, creating fissures that
allow resources to move freely from rock pores where it is trapped[3].

A few environmental impacts associated with this process are mentioned

1.      Toxic Chemicals and
Radioactive Materials – The use of toxic chemicals during the fracking process
and the subsequent release of additional toxic chemicals and radioactive
materials from the ground during well production is one of the primary
environmental impacts of hydraulic fracking[1]. Heavy metals, high
concentration of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM), volatile
organic compounds(VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) such as benzene,
toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) are contained in the fracking fluid
pumped out of the well and separated from the oil and gas[1]. The proper handling,
treatment and disposal of these products in a safe manner during the lifecycle
of the well is of importance.

2.      Contamination of
groundwater systems – This could occur because of chemical additives that are
used in the fracking proppants. Contamination can either be due to surface
water contamination as a result of spillages and improper pit containment or
underground aquifer system contamination during or by the fracking process or
improper well construction. Usually, the fracking fluids and flowback (returning
fluids containing toxic materials) are stored in lined ponds or pits, surface
storage tanks or in heavy duty trucks during the operation.  The treatment
or disposal of flowback waters is done by reusing or discharging it into
surface water following treatment. However, publicly owned treatment facilities
are not designed to treat fracking waste water especially radioactive materials.
Excessive levels of radium, uranium and benzene in rivers and streams due to
improper treatment at facilities prior to discharging waste water into surface
waters by a recent New York Times article[1].

3.      Water supply
shortages – An average shale gas well requires 3 million gallons of water and the
injection of 15,000 to 60,000 gallons of chemical additives[1]. Hundreds of
wells are needed to effectively produce the gas and to make the project
economical. Hydraulic fracturing is a highly water-intensive process requiring
volumes with the potential to impact or even deplete water resources[5] especially
at certain operational stages. Proper consideration needs be given to the water
source since large amount of fresh water will be required and this  may lead to shortage that will affect ordinary
people that depend on the public supply. This high water demand may also alter
the ecosystem, if the water is being taken from a river or lake system. However,
there are alternative sources such as the use of saline water from deep
aquifers being considered in some US shales[5] or the use of waste water that is
recycled. Cost of treating brine from deep aquifers and technical challenges
experienced with mixing of saline water with friction reducers, scale
inhibitors and particularly surfactants[5] still make freshwater the preferred

4.      Seismic activity and
possible earthquakes – Hydraulic fracturing has two types of seismic associated
with it – microseismic events which are a routine feature and are due to the
propagation of engineered fractures and larger seismic events which are
generally rare in places that are not already sitting on fault lines or fault
zones but these can be activated by the fracking process. Experience from
Blackpool showed that the area experienced a seismic event of magnitude 2.3ML
shortly after the hydraulic fracturing of Cuadrilla’s Preese Hall well.[5]
Analysis of the event shows that the seismic activity resulted from the
re-activation of a pre-stressed fault. However, the direct or indirect
consequence of the fracking process on fault lines is yet to be fully

5.      Noise and Air pollution
- depending where the operation is taking place, the fracking process itself is
noisy and may affect local population. Drilling operations require a large
number of heavy duty trucks to transport water, remove waste water and to
assemble the drilling rig. Estimates of the total number of truck trips per
well range from 320 to 1,700[5]. These are a significant source of pollutants
and pollutant precursors along with the noise from ongoing routine operations
such as compressing gas for distribution. These could have adverse effects on
the health of the local population especially within one mile of operations.

6.      Gas wells have been
found to be significant sources of methane leakage which is a potent greenhouse
gas with global warming potential[4]. Many of the chemicals used in hydraulic
fracturing fluids are hazardous air pollutants(HAPs)[4].

7.      Environmental Public
Health – Humans can be exposed in the following ways to toxic chemicals explained
above which are contained in hydraulic fracturing fluids and waste: 1.
Ingestion from drinking ground water and from soil; 2. Dermal(direct skin)
contact; and 3. Inhalation of vapours stored in tanks and pits. These are some
possible health effects of the over 1,000 known hydraulic fracturing

8.      Agricultural farmland
may be taken up and or rendered contaminated by increased shale gas drilling
and associated fracking. This can lead to long term problems with
sustainability of food supplies.

Now, there
are very strong arguments in favour of fracking, but most of these are in terms
of the economic benefits that it brings. The shale gas resource itself is very
abundant globally and results in improved energy security for countries that
imports most of their current crude oil supply. Secondly, lots of jobs can be
created and are created by shale gas drilling and the associated fracking.
Thirdly, gas is a cleaner fossil fuel and can mean less CO2 and less carbon
taxes in these era of carbon-trading and global warming. 

Finally, despite the aforementioned environmental impacts, these challenges
are not insurmountable and through an integrated and interdisciplinary risk management,
innovative solutions from technological advancement and effective legislation, hydraulic
fracturing may yet tend to still be the preferred option because the
alternative sources of energy to shale gas - either coal or nuclear also have
their challenges. The contributions from renewable energy to the
global energy mix are still too low and will continue to be so for the
foreseeable future. Since global energy demands are forecast to rise by about 40%
between 2009 and 2035 as predicted by the International Energy Agency[6], the
world needs a continuous supply of energy upon which it is so dependent and
decisions must be based on active situations and not passive emotion-laden


Environmental Impacts Associated with Hydraulic Fracturing.
Environmental Health – Hydraulic Fracturing Fact Sheet. The Network for Public
Health Law.

2.      J. Daniel Arthur,
P.E., ALL Consulting; Brian Bohm, P.G., ALL Consulting; Bobbi Jo Coughlin, EIT,
ALL Consulting; Mark Layne, PhD., P.E., ALL Consulting, Evaluating the
Environmental Implications of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale Gas Reservoirs, 2008.

How Fracking Works.

4.      Durham Environmental
Affairs Board, Report to the Joint City/County Planning Council on Some
Potential Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing in Durham County, and
Recommendations to Consider for Future Implementation. March 23, 2012.

5.      The Royal Society and
The Royal Academy of Engineering, Shale gas extraction in the UK: A review of
hydraulic fracturing. Issued June 2012.

Exxonmobil, 2012 The Outlook for Energy: A view to 2040.

max0yang's picture

all know, the gas fracking is bloomed in the states and it is blooming in the
China. Let us move our visions back to the UK, what are the situations in the
UK now?

independent review published by the Royal Academy of Engineering, was focusing
on the scientific and engineering evidences relating to the technical aspects
of the risks associated with fracking, it meant to inform UK government about
the potential benefits and risks related to shale gas extraction in the UK.

focused on environmental, health and safety risks, but not on the climate
risks. It also carries out extensive studies on the technologies associated
with fracking, the main environmental concerns raised by the States and Europe
and the global policy context.

is an also useful link called “shale gas outrage”-, based in the
US. They give out examples of gas fracking victims that complaining about the
contaminated drinking water near drilling sites, in some cases, well drinking
water even turned into black colour.

max0yang's picture

The Royal Academy of Engineering has made 10 recommendations to shale gas productions, including detection of groundwater contaminations, well integrity management, a number of mitigation strategies to deal with seismicity, potential leakages and other related risks.

From my point of views, detection and mitigation parts are the most crucial to the safe production of shale gas, in order to regulate the fracking activities, the authorities from different areas should work together to develop comprehensive inspections of methane and other contaminations in the groundwater. The authorities should also set up specified schemes for operators to carry out site monitoring regularly. The report also brought up a recommendation of monitoring abandoned wells and guideline for any remediation works.

Wellhead integrity regulations is always emphasised in the oil & gas industrial regulations, well integrity for the shale gas drilling can NOT be ignored as fracking drilling is modern technologies, there are many "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns" issues need to be overcome. the Royal Academy of Engineering has made a few good recommendations, such as:
• Ensure the independence of the well examiner from the operator.
• Well designs should be reviewed by the well examiner from both a health and safety perspective and an environmental perspective
• The results of well tests and the reports of well examinations should be submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

max0yang's picture

pollution and Small magnitude earthquake are the concern raised by public and
government, and they can be controlled by regulating drilling activities. The
drilling activities produce wastewater and contaminated stromwater, so
techniques and operational practices should be implemented to minimise water
use and avoid abstracting water from supplies that may be under stress. Options
for treating and disposing of wastes should be planned from the outset as well.

studies show the gas fracking may trigger earthquake, in order to prevent this
from happening, the Royal Academy of Engineering recommends: Operators should carry out site-specific surveys
to characterise and identify local stresses and faults

of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)
should consider how induced seismicity
is to be regulated. Operators should share data with DECC to set up a national
database of shale stress and fault properties so that suitable well locations
can be identified.

A so called Traffic light monitoring systems
should be implemented and data fed back to well injection operations.
inspections need to be carried out through the three stages of shale gas
extraction process, including: exploration, production and abandonment.
Especially more attentions need to put on to the abandonment process, even most
parts of the well structures will be filled with cements, but the well still
need to be regularly inspected.

max0yang's picture

For shale gas drillings, there are still some uncertainties, such as environmental damages and energy use efficiency and so on. However, two key factors tend to drive this blooming industry move forward: global climate change and energy security. The US experiences have proven that the gas fracking could reduce CO2 emission in long-term plan, shale gas reserves in the European countries are massive, in UK, the estimates of technically recoverable shale gas resources are 20 (TCF) trillion cube feet, In Norway, it is 83 TCF. In France, it is 180 TCF. The highest reserve is 187 TCF in Poland. Compared to the US reserve of 862 TCF and the China reserve of enormous 1275 Trillion Cube Feet, they may not seem to be big numbers, but actually very economic beneficial.

The shale gas extraction in Europe is still at the exploration stage. It is many years away from US levels of commercial production status, especially in the light of differences in geology, public acceptability, population density, tax breaks and environmental regulation, according to (Stevens, 2010). From the year of 2011, the EU tend to drive its own gas fracking industry move forward, In 2011, European Union (EU) Heads of State concluded that Europe's potential to extract and use unconventional fossil fuel resources, including shale gas. In 2012, the European Commission (EC) judged that its existing legal framework was adequate to address shale gas extraction, the above information was described in the Royal Academy of Engineering reports.

max0yang's picture

Gas hydraulics fracturing is to inject fluids under pressure to great artificial fractures in the shale, the fractures are normally kept open by sands included in the fluids, so that the shale gas can flow out of the shale into the drilling pipelines. From the contexts, we clearly see this method would bring two problems, as mentioned many times by others: Water pollution and seismicity. The first issue can be gradually treated and prevented with improving drilling technologies, however, the potential earthquakes can only be monitored and studied so far, In the UK, The British Geological Survey (BGS) operates 100 stations to monitor seismicity in the UK, and then data will be collected and provided to the research laboratories and institutes for further investigations. DECC and BGS will be the regulation bodies to the shale gas industries. The earthquake detection limit is set up at a magnitude of 2.0M in the most part of the UK, which can be felt by people.
In the UK, industry interests in the shale gas extraction include:

In England, there are five locations; the first test well was drilled in August 2010 at Preese Hall, a second at Grange Hill Farm later that year; and a third near the village of Banks in August 2011. Only one of the sites is allowed to use "fracking" technology.

In Wales & North Ireland, the industry has identified three potential locations.

In Scotland, even there are potentials sites spread over the country, but not interest has been showed so far for gas extractions.

max0yang's picture

We can reduce environmental impacts of shale gas extraction in a number of ways; the fluids most commonly used for hydraulic fracturing are water-based. The water could be taken from surface water bodies, such as rivers and lakes, or from ground water bodies, such as aquifers or public and private water sources. Sand is normally added as a proponent to keep fractures open. How and where to dispose these wastewater? According to industry figures, 50% of the fracturing fluids will go back the surface once the pipeline is depressurized, the volume of water flowing back to the surface mainly depends on the properties of the shale and the fracturing created and so on. How to store the wastewater, in the States, the wastewater was stored on site in the open pits, then in the steel tanks and piping systems. However, the open storage pond is not permitted in the UK, so it has to be stored in the closed storages. The wastewater can also be reused by diluting with freshwater, pre-treatment may be required. The UK Health and Safety Regulators will inspect the road companies transporting the wastewater offsite.

max0yang's picture

The industry has also worked on finding alternative sources of water, Freshwater was necessary early in the development of certain US shales when friction reducers, scale inhibitors, and particularly surfactants, showed performance difficulties when mixed in saline water. Now we can simply use saline water from deep aquifers to avoid water stress.

The industry also tries to find alternatives to water, such as using waterless fracturing fluids. These include gels, and carbon dioxide and nitrogen gas foams. The gelled fracturing fluids can boost the gas production rates and reduce the toxicity of wastewater. Many researchers work on finding ways to use fracturing fluids more reliably and economically.

Shale contains more uranium than other types of rocks, and uranium is radioactive than any other materials. So we need to find safe ways to dispose the waste solids.

Olamide s Ajala's picture

Hydraulic fracturing, (also known as ‘fracking’), refers to the process of retrieving oil or natural gas from beneath the Earth's surface, by injecting water, sand, and toxic chemicals at high pressures into rock formations in order to crack and release oil or natural gas trapped within the rock.

The fracking process is not water conservative, as each fracking process requires 4-6 million gallons of water, and each well usually requires multiple ‘fracks’.

Some of the chemicals used in fracking are highly toxic. Although companies securely store the toxic waste water, some can leak into groundwater, and since treatment centers usually don't have the technology to eliminate such highly toxic wastes, contaminated water could get to homes nearby. Consequently, the process involves an unsustainable use of water resources.

Fracturing rock releases hazardous gases such as hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and methane. Exposure to these gases can cause blood disorders, negative neurological effects, breathing problems, and reproductive challenges.

If fracking is to be continued, energy companies MUST do all it takes to ensure there is no leak, spillage or contamination of any kind on the environment (air, surface water, groundwater and soil).


Olamide Sherifah Ajala
Student ID:51230562
Course:Sub sea Engineering

max0yang's picture

Hello Olamide

It is a good point that you have raised about the leakage of the drilling pipeline, in order to prevent shale gas from leaking out the pipeline, we will need to isolate wells and pipelines from other subsurface formations, and this philosophy is called "well Integrity". The type of isolations applied depends on the construction method of wells and other sub-structures. In reality, we cannot create "absolute safe" conditions, because it is impractical and time-consuming. I think we need to carry out small-scale test drillings cautiously, and then we can develop rigorous policies and regulations from the issues and problems we have overcome.
Poor well integrity management will result in well failures, such as blow out, annular leak and radial leak. A blow out is referred as fluids "Suddenly" escaped from a well to the surface. This potential failure can be controlled by placing a pipeline protected by a number of casings into the wellhead.




max0yang's picture

UK HSE and API have published a number of documents and journals on preventing well failure and improving well examination scheme. In the US, the industry has already used historical data to identify key factors of well leakage and pollution as well. Majority of the leakage accidents are caused by inappropriate casings, such as the number of casings and how they are constructed and so on. There are some figures produced by researchers, according to Watson and Bacchu 2009, several percentages of older oil and gas wells leaked, while less than 0.5% of those constructed since 2000 according to stricter standards were found to be leaky. You can tell from this figure, what people concern about is actually less likely to occur, certainly, you would argue the consequences are too serve to bear, but I believe the "well examination scheme" is dedicated to deal with these potential well leakages and contaminations. Especially in UK, the well examination scheme allows well designs and constructions to be reviewed by authorities and experts, along with the health and safety regulators.

Leziga Bakor's picture

Fracking for shale gas the propagation of fractures in rock layer as a result of pressurised fluid for the escape of gases in the rock into the wellbore is risky as there are many safety issues associated with it. Some of the key issues include:
• Surface and underground water pollution: well integrity has been a major issue. Studies have been carried out and it has been found that the integrity reduces over time. As this happens, the casings which prevent the fluids in the well from entering into the rock formations and underground water develop cracks. These cracks allow for gas escape into the rock formations and pollute the underground water supply. When this water supply is polluted, the drinking and domestic water for the community is polluted. Also the water used in the fracking process is contaminated with the chemicals used with it and also with the gas form the reservoir. This water is disposed and if not properly treated will pollute surface water where is disposed.
• Air pollution: Gas that escapes from the well or from the fracking process into the atmosphere also pollute the air and are toxic for humans and animals. This issue also is one of great safety concern
• Damage to the underground rock formations: the process of forcing fluids to frack rock underground can lead to unknown ground movement. These movements can potentially lead to earthquake and heavy tidal waves which can cause serious damage to the community.
• So many unknowns: There are so many unknowns and uncertainty associated with shale gas fracking. The effect of shale fracking is not totally known and it varies from location to location.
These safety issues can be reduced through good legislation and safety practice.  If the integrity of the well is properly monitored and checked, the escape of fluid from the well can be reduced to. Also if the water used in the fracking is treated properly before disposal, then the contamination of surface water can be drastically reduced. There must also be proper monitoring at regular intervals to ensure that the industry adheres to all safety requirements for carrying out shale gas fracking. If this can be done then shale gas fracking can be carried out safely for the community.
In conclusion, shale gas fracking should not be banned as it is a good source of energy but it should be done with strict adherence to safe practices. This way we can ensure that its side effects is reduced to as low as reasonable practicable.

According to the
cumulative result and understanding extracted from series of presentations,
documentations and statistical accessed interviews from citizens where fracking
oil exploration processes is eminent,   as a layman to this exploration practice, this
phenomenon possess to me as a dangerous practice to its immediate environment.
Not judging with the above mentioned factors, I understand that fracking
process, from a scientist point of view is a safe act, if practically carried
out with effective technical know-how and understanding the depth level stage
to be fracked.

According to the
journal released by Science Environmental Policy, 23 February 2012, state: ‘’While
the ecological impact of shale gas exploration and extraction on groundwater
has received considerable attention, the implications for surface water and
terrestrial ecosystems is often overlooked, according to a new US study.
Although more data are needed, preliminary results suggest that regulations
based on proximity to surface water could be necessary to protect valuable
ecosystems ‘’ [1]. These are strong words that makes fracking phenomenon
questionable towards the survival rate of naturally existing environmental

according to the aforementioned report, three major risks have been identified:

Fracking process has been sited most of the time
where stream channels are present, therefore posing questionable survival rate
for aquatic organisms and constant water flow rate in demand by the process has
reduce availability of water source.

Contamination of such hazard, towards environmental
safety and human health and safety

Excessive sedimentations of chemicals used in achieving
fracking process are now present in the ecosystem.

To my
understanding, control of fossil fuel exploration process should be a safe act,
and consideration should be towards the working crew, individual citizens and
organisms. This is very important. If safety control measures for fracking processes
are understandable and unquestionable then, the system will be regarded safe
for the environment.

Report says, Halliburton
oil and gas, the company that apparently started fracking process in the United
State are not willing to divulge the broad technology behind the chemical materials
used during fracking process. This I find personally bizarre!

process is diverse and very open. Safety should be paramount in any engineering
act and not an asymmetry practise.


eddy itamah's picture

Fracking also known as induced hydraulic fracturing is a common technique usually deployed in the oil and gas industry to release hydrocarbon fluid, natural gas such as shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas for extraction. In 1947, the first hydraulic fracturing process came into existence in a bid to create fractures from a wellbore drilled into rock formation. Although later in 1998 in Barnett shale in Texas, a modern form of fracking technique was deployed, called horizontal slickwater fracking which made the extraction of shale gas economically viable. The extraction rates and recovery of hydrocarbon fluid became very high, as energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fracking fluid creates new channels in the rock formation.

It has been estalished that hydraulic fracturing is typically used to increase or restore the rate at which fluids such as petroleum, natural gas and unconventional gas can be produced from natural reservoir. Since conventional and unconventioal reservoirs like shale rock and coal beds are usually porous and permeable, the production of oil and natural gas from rock formation at depth of (1500 - 6100m) below the earth surface is enhanced by hydraulic fracturing. At such depth, the permeability and porosity of the rock formation may not be sufficient or the reservoir pressure maybe too low to allow for the extraction of natural gas and oil from the rock formation at economic rates. Thus, creating conductive fractures in the rock is pivotal to extract gas from shale reservoirs because of the extremely low natural permeability of shale. This process enhances the recovery and thus increasing the economic value of shale gas used in the energy industry.

References: Gas/environmentalimpacts.html


eddy itamah's picture

Although shale gas fracking is economically viable, its environmental impact cannot be neglected. It is a general believe that shale gas extraction has raised alot of environmental challenges and concerns in relation to Carbondioxide (CO2) and Methane (CH4) emissions, the volume of water and the chemicals used in fracking and there subsequent disposal, the possible risk of contaminating groundwater, and the phyical effects of fracking in the form of increased seismic activity.

It was reported from National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that high exposure to large quantities of silica sand used as proppant in hydraulic fracturing can cause a disease of the lungs called silicosis.

Other environmental issues associated with shale gas fracking is blowout and venting, a situation that is generally regarded as the most serious and dangerous environment pollution because it is basically uncontrollable in nature, since it as a result of excess pressure in well which occurs violently. Despite effort by operators to control or mitigate the amount of fluid and gas released during blowout and venting, yet the situation seem uncontrollable. Spilling of drilling substances such as drilling mud, produced water and gel friction reducer are potentially harmful to the environment.

The other fundamental issue common to shale gas fracking is gas migration into fresh water, a situation which occurs due to flow in cement and casing of a well. This situation is also very harmful as gas migration incident can pose enviromental impairment. This situation is regarded as danger to public safety due to the release of sequestrated methane which is very volalite and explosive.

Environmental impact assessment report of gas migration in Dimock, pennsylvania, shows the effect of gas migration on environment, health, and safety of the public in that region.

Notwithstanding the economic viability of shale gas fracking, its health, safety and environmenal impact is enormous, as such fracking of shale gas should be banned in order to preserve our environment and the ecological system. 

References: page.pdf Gas/environmentalimpacts.html 

Kwadwo Boateng Aniagyei's picture

Shale gas production is rising quickly in the USA. It is very promising and contributes to about a quarter of natural gas extraction volumes of the USA. There is a major drive to expoit this unconventional gas as more convenient, conventional sources run out. Even though this natural gas burns with lower emmissions than other fossil fuels, the means of obtaining this source of energy is pretty risky. The most high profile controversy surrounding the fracking of shale gas is its ability to contaminate drinking water with methane or drilling chemicals.  The US Enviromental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that the fracking process of shale gas may be to blame for causing groundwater pollution. The EPA found that compounds likely associated with fracking chemicals have been detected in the groundwater beneath Pavillion, a small community in central Wyoming where residents say their well water reeks of chemicals. Another major danger of fracking is its potential to cause earth tremors, as was experienced near Blackpool in the year 2011. However, I strongly believe that shale gas can be safely exploited if the right practices are observed and enforced through strong regulations. For instance; the risk of water contamination can be minimised if the fracking process takes place at depths of hundreds of metres below water aquifers. Also, if all wells are properly constructed and lined with layers of steel and cement, problems of gas leakages and earth tremors could be minimised or even avoided to the bearest minimum. Therefore, it should not be banned but rather well monitored and regulated to ensure that its risk potential is duly managed. Also due to its reserves potential,  it can help provide solutions to the world's energy security concerns as other conventional sources of energy are running out of stock.

max0yang's picture

In the UK, The Royal Academy of Engineering has made some recommendations on the fracture propagation, operators need to monitor and ensure fractures propagating within the control and will remain in the specified shale formations . Unexpected and excessive fractures are considered to be uneconomical and less environmentally friendly . In order to locate the exact development of fractures, we normally add chemical tracers into the fracking fluids. The development of fracturing process can be inferred from the concentration of chemical tracers at different stages. In the US, some sites use a "Microseismic" technique to monitor the fracture developments. To eliminate the potential damages of hydraulic fracturing to the environments, we will need to constrain the fracture growths, in some journals, they refer this constrains as "geological stress". Well pressure management is also a part of the fracture propagation management process, these different technologies will help us to control fracture developments in the shale formations, we can then reduce the likelihood of potential earthquakes caused by the fracking.

max0yang's picture

According to the UK geology department, the UK seismicity is low by world standards, the largest earthquake event in the UK is less than the magnitude of 5.0 (5.0ML). Let us go back to the 1800s, there were many questionings about coal mining activities, some even said coal mining was an offense to the God. However, coal mining is widely seen all over the world, some of them even drill down to as deep as thousands of meters. The seismicity induced by mining activities has caused minimal impacts to the environments, and generally no greater than 4.0ML.

There are generally two types of earthquake activities related to hydraulic fracturing: Microseimic events is explained as "a feature of fracking in a controlled manner", it can be barely noticed by people and cause minor disruptions to local residents. Large seismicity events are barely recorded, they can only occur with the pre-stressed fault developed in farcking. There are only a few seismicity reports believed to be caused by Hydraulic fractures, On 1st April 2011, the Blackpool area experienced a seismic event of magnitude 2.3 ML, Another seismic event of magnitude 1.5 ML occurred on 27th May 2011 following renewed hydraulic fracturing of the same well. At least, there are NOT scientific evidences can prove frequent minor seismicity events can lead to great scale earthquakes, so I believe the hydraulic fracturing is within "safely controllable region".

max0yang's picture

The seismicity induced by hydraulic fracturing has been studied over the past years, and will be extensively studied in the future. There are a number of factors already known that would affect the magnitude of seismicity, first, the properties of the shale would directly affect the magnitude of the seismicity, because the shale is relatively weak in physical properties, comparing to other rocks, so when they break down, they will generate less energy than other rocks. Secondly, the properties of the faults will also determine the magnitude of the seismicity, such as the surface of the faults. All of these geological and physical studies will help us to understand the risks of fracking.

The pressure in a well is also a key factor to determine induced seismicity, and it can be controlled by:
• The volume of injected fracturing fluids
• The volume of flowback fluids
• The injection rate
• The flowbakc rate

According to de Pater and Baisch, 2011, Seismicity was only induced following hydraulic fracturing stages where larger volumes of fluid were injected and/or where there was little or no flowback of fluids. So it's possible to reduce or terminate the seismicity events by adjusting the volume of the injected fluids and the flowback rate.

Oluwatosin A. Oyebade's picture

Although shale fuel sources were discovered
prior to conventional fuel sources, the rush to compensate for the diminished
conventional fossil fuels has led to their rediscovery, with China topping the
charts as the World's largest shale oil producer.

Shale rocks are organic rich, fine grained
sedimentary source rocks, in which substantial quantities of kerogen are
contained. Application of appropriate technology leads to the extraction of
liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons from shale rocks. The major methods of
extracting shale oil are by surface mining and insitu combustion. Shale usually
has insufficient permeability for significant fluid flow to the borehole, thus the
process of artificial fracturing of the shale rocks to create veined flow paths
is performed.

Although, the Obama administration has
publicly promoted shale gas as a source of lower greenhouse pollutants than
other fossil fuels, scientific evidence has risen to prove holes in this theory
void, showing that shale fuels may emit as much or more greenhouse gases than
oil or coal.

Irrespective of the advantage presented by
the additional fuel sources, multiple existent and perceived negative side
effects are also inherent in the shale fracturing process. Top on this list

* Reported 
impairment of the quality of potable well water and groundwater in the
vicinity of drilling activities.

* Increased risk of the occurrence of
subsidence of subsurface layers, causing structural damage to surface

Industry experts consistently insist that
fracturing technology is safe as long as the gas well is installed properly. There
is a possibility that many of the impairments have been unfairly blamed on the
fracturing process itself, as they may have been caused by earlier activities
such as subsurface hydrocarbon migration, lost mud from drilling operations,
cement from casing operations, as well as pollution from naturally occurring
constituents (e.g. arsenic, radon) etc

Prevention measures that have been taken by
the Industry and Government include:

* Installing protective telescopic casing,
thus isolating the gas wells from underground aquifers and water supply

* Adapting underbalanced drilling
techniques, to avoid excessive invasion of drilling fluid into the formation.

* Incorporation of existing groundwater
technologies to shale fracturing operations.

* Carrying out detailed logging and evaluation
of the characteristics of aquifers beneath and around well sites for risk
reduction and mitigation purposes.

It is noteworthy that the global regulatory
climate, particularly in the United States, is evolving to cope with the
evolution of non-conventional production technologies.  These new codes and regulations further
alleviate the possibility of impairments occurring due to shale fracturing

The effect of public exposure to the
numerous mitigative steps that have been taken to prevent these negative
effectives cannot be overemphasized, as this would allay the apprehension and
growing distrust for this technology amongst the populace. It is too early to make
a definite conclusion on the viability of shale fracturing technology, as it is
relatively new on the energy production landscape; however with proper
mitigative steps, it might be the key that USA would apply to shake off the
iron-fisted hold the Russian Government has on the European gas market.


Oluwatosin Oyebade

Tianchi You's picture

Our classmates have already discussed a lot of fracking,as we all know, In order to satisfy the heavy
demand of energy from the whole society, petroleum industries have explored several
methods to achieve more output.
According to the research by NSI Technologies , fracking does have an
effect on increasing the production of oil and gas; however, people nowadays have
become more responsible to care about the environment which result in the
change of opinion on the issue of fracking. In terms of environmental issues,
fracking may cause negative effects on them due to the pollution it has caused.

The term
‘fracking’, which is short for ‘Hydraulic fracturing’, is the process of
initiating and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer
In order to extract the oil and natural gas from shale rock which typically
exists from 1,500m to 6,000m below the surface, the specialized technique fracking
is required. It is the process which involves drilling a hole deep into the
dense shale rocks, then pumping in at extraordinarily high pressure by
considerable amount of water mixed with sand and chemicals through the well.
Before arriving at the same level of drill bit, the high-pressure mixed water
will pass via the cement casing well which is almost vertical. When it reaches
the destination called shale layer, it will turn into the right angle and then
run horizontally. Since the well bore is lined with concrete to prevent fluid
from seeping into it, there is a perforating gun on a wire line which helps to
make holes into the shale layer. Once the high-pressure water mixed with sand
and chemicals reaches into the well bore ,it will damage the tiny holes upon
the shale rock. Finally, gas in the rock is forced into the well bore, then it
will be trapped and allowed to flow to the surface(Harvey.F 2011).
Consequently, fracking is an efficient technique to stimulate the well and gain
more oil and gas.

the environmental issues into consideration, fracking is still a controversial
technique. When fracking is used to stimulate the well, it becomes hard to
gauge how dangerous issues may be caused and whether these problems could be
controlled because of the ingredients. According to the reports in the US , it
has been found that hundreds of chemicals are used in the mixed water,
especially some of them are toxic such as methanol and benzene (as cited by Harvey.
F ,2011). Once the cement casing around the well hole is not adequate, the
chemical mixture will be released into the aquifer which can lead to a harmful
consequence. Because chemical mixture is a kind of toxic and poisonous
substance, will definitely have a negative effect on the environment such as
pollute the source of water and plants. For example, companies in US even are
not allowed to disclose what chemicals they use, it can be seen that it is a
kind of secret which may cause negative effects to companies if the public know
the ingredients in it. Furthermore, seismic activity may be involved in fracking.
Due to the causes of fracking, some countries in the world have considered to
ban fracking, such as in France majority of people support to prohibit fracking
(Harvey. F ,2011) .


1.      Carl
T. Montgomery and Michael B. Smith. History of an enduring technology. NSI

2.      Fiona
Harvey. Wednesday 20 April 2011.

max0yang's picture

Now I have progressed on to the ending parts of my discussions on the safe production of shale gas, meanwhile I hope I have demonstrated the safety and reliability design of shale gas drilling facilities. Even though I have proven the shale gas drilling is relatively safer than what people think of it. Mitigation strategies should also be developed to minimise the potential hazards, some recommendations have been made that British Geological Survey (BGS) or other authorities should carry out national surveys to characterise stresses and identify faults in UK shales. Also operators are encouraged to carry out site-specific surveys to cooperate with the national surveys. Secondly, we know the one we start operating fracking in the shale formation, it is difficult to determine what will happen at this location, so there should be a requirement of the pre-fracturing injection test, which hopefully will help us to predict what could happen within this shale formation. Finally, we can also use the famous "Traffic Light System" to indicate the performances of the injection tests, some recommendations suggest Green could be used to indicate injection as planned and Amber means Injection proceeds with caution.


In general, these three steps are used to mitigate the potential hazards of seismicity to an acceptable level. 


max0yang's picture

Any industries and projects can NOT live without the RISK MANAGEMENT, the same applied to the Shale gas industry. Mitigation plans are designed to reduce risks to an acceptable level and the risk will still exist. If water is contaminated or earthquake is triggered, there must be a risk management plan that control and effectively manage the risks. From the HSE lectures, we learned that the UK approach to most of the risk assessment or management is called "goal setting", which means Regulators set out goals but operators are responsible for considering the means to achieve them according to the following framework, according to (HoL 2006). There is a common terminology in the goal setting approach, is called as "ALARP", As Low As Reasonably Practical , it is regarded as reducing the risks to an acceptable level . However , the UK law system is governed by a so-called "case law" system , which normally gives operators flexibility to their risk management plans and it is NOT encouraged. (No Constitutional Law in the UK at all, except for the Human Right Acts. Crazy!!)

A recent review of the Macondo (Deepwater Horizon) incident recommended that the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the UK's offshore oil and gas industry should develop a more goal-based approach to environmental regulation, according to (Maitland et al 2011). So, now the UK Oil & Gas industry are developing a new concept called Environmental Assurance Plan that could identify baseline performance standards and targets, leaving operators responsible for the means to achieve them, I think that it is a "Mature" version of RISK MANAGEMENT and will give authorities more powers to regulate operators.

max0yang's picture

Historical data collection is equally important as risk assessment and management. The regulations in the UK require operators to submit accidents and incident report to the regulators, also these reports can be shared between operators and encouraged to do so. Normally this data have been reliable enough than can be used to improve the risk assessments. The data will include: failures of well integrity, as well as failures occurred during well constructions. It is important to remember that any UK shale gas industry must NOT wait for an incident or accident but should seek to identify and share best practice from the outset.

In the UK, currently an operator may need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment when seeking local planning permission. Environmental Risk Assessment (ERA) has become best practice in non-shale gas industries and gradually recognised in the shale gas industry.

Deinyefa S. Ebikeme's picture

Shale gas is new unconventional source of energy with the view to play a key role as a transition fuel (in the foreseeable future as substitutes for coal, oil and gas or renewables) in the move to a low carbon economy. For now shale gas could be considered as not viable due to its environmental and climate impact with evidence from the US Environmental Protection Agency suggests shale gas extraction brings a significant risk of groundwater and surface water contamination. This evidence base is being developed and will served as a precautionary approach to development of shale gas in other regions such as UK and EU with strict legislative bodies (UK’s Government’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), DECC, the HSE, the respective Environment Agency, and Local Planning Authority with respect its obligations under both the Copenhagen Accord and Low Carbon Transition Plan.

In conclusion, Shale gas subject to best practice extraction and subsequently combusted in high efficiency combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) powerstations will deliver power at lower emissions per unit of electricity generated than is possible from coal fired generation.

References: : "Shale gas: an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts "

Deinyefa Stephen Ebikeme IBIYF

max0yang's picture

Okay. The regulations of shale gas drilling, in the UK, it comes from the rich experiences of onshore oil & gas production over the past 60 years. Risks will be managed in various stages of the UK regulatory system, extraction licenses are an important part of this system, In the US, local residents own gas reserves underneath their properties, if a company wants to explore shale gas on their sites, they need to get "permission" from the local residents. In the UK, generally companies can get drilling licenses from The Department Of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Even though companies have got a Petroleum Exploration and Development Licenses (PEDL), they don't get immediate consent from the local authorities, they also need to gain planning permissions from local councils. The authorities will assess on health effects on local populations or seismicity. There are rigorous regulations on well construction and well examination schemes and environmental permits. Compared to the rather localised license process, the production activities are regulated on a national scale, operators need to gain permission from DECC, and it also needs to comply with local permissions.

Overall, the regulations need to be rigorous enough to prevent shale gas contaminations and extraction accidents, and they still need to be developed.

Derek Porter.'s picture

In response to max0yang. Operators in the UK can apply for a license in certain licensing rounds. The licenses however do not give consent for drilling or any other operations. Permission should then be given from the landowner, the Coal Authority, the Local Planning Authority (LPA), the environmental agency such as the Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales, or the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland. This then requires consultations to determine if an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and also an environmental permit is required.The HSE must be notified of the well design and operation plans ensure that major accident hazard risks to people from well and well related activities are properly controlled. HSE regulations also require verification of the well design by an independent third party. Furthermore if more than 96 hours of testing is required an extended license needs to be applied for.If the operator wished to drill an appraisal well or propose a development, they start again with the process described above. In my opinion this is a lot of application procedure and mitigates a large amount of risk.


DECC - Shale gas,

Azeezat's picture

Fracking involves the injection of water, sand and
chemicals at high pressure into boreholes. Hydraulic fracturing makes it
possible to produce oil and natural gas in places where conventional
technologies are ineffective. It uses water pressure, under tight controls, to
create fractures in rock that allow the oil and natural gas it contains to
escape and flow out of a well

Fracturing fluids consist primarily of
water or inert foam of nitrogen or carbon dioxide. Other constituents can be
added to fluids to improve their performance in optimizing fracture growth.

During a hydraulic fracturing job, water
and any other additives are pumped from the storage tanks to a manifold system
placed on the production wells where they are mixed and then injected under
high pressure into the coal formation

Impact of fracking

-Drinking water with strong, unpleasant taste and

-Impacts on fish, and surrounding vegetation and

- Loss of water in wells and aquifers, and discharged
water creating artificial ponds and swamps not indigenous to region


safe is shale gas extraction?

Shale gas can only  be accessed with a specialised technique  called hydraulic fracturing .Gas exploration
companies drill boreholes down into the gas-bearing shales, thousands of metres
below the surface; drilling may also continue horizontally. The borehole is
lined with a steel and concrete casing.  A 'perforating gun' is lowered into the borehole
to make small holes in the concrete casing at the depth of the shale target.  A mixture of water, chemicals and sand is
pumped — at very high pressure — along the borehole and through the
perforations which fracture the shale. The water opens up cracks in the rock,
and the sand grains lodge into the spaces and keep them open, allowing the
released gas to flow out of the rocks and to travel back up the borehole

 How do we know if shale gas is leaking?

The BGS has recently started (2011) a baseline study
for groundwater methane in areas likely to be prospective for shale gas. It
will involve sampling groundwater from water wells, and determining
concentrations of natural methane and its origin (thermogenic or biogenic).  The results will help us to identify any
future impacts on shallow groundwater that might result from fracking or shale
gas extraction.

The project is part of a wider national programme of
groundwater characterisation that includes:

- aquifer characterisation and testing

- chemical, isotope and environment tracer analysis

age dating

model development

of risk screening tools and models

how shale gas could leak

We need to further our understanding of how shale
gas could leak from wells through laboratory studies of fluid and gas movement
in shales. Underground stress states and temperature conditions can be
simulated in the laboratory to quantify the following key properties:

-gas permeability

-anisotropy ratio

-capillary entry pressure

permeability function

-fracture transmissivity

The health, safety and environmental risks of the
fracking of shale gas  can be managed
effectively  by

- Operational best practices must be implemented and
enforced through strong regulation.

-The risk of fractures propagating to reach
overlying aquifers is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place
at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres.

- Monitoring should be carried out before, during
and after shale gas operations to detect methane and other contaminants in
groundwater and potential leakages of methane and other gases into the

- Every shale gas operation should assess risks
across the entire lifecycle of operations, from water use through to the
disposal of wastes and the abandonment of wells.

- Seismicity should be included in the Environmental
Risk Assessment.

-Water requirements can be managed sustainably.
Options for disposing of wastes should be planned from the outset. There should
be further consideration.

-Attention must be paid to the way in which risks
scale up should a future shale gas industry develop nationwide. Regulatory
co-ordination and capacity must be maintained.

- Further research will be beneficial for the policy


chukwuemeka uzukwu's picture

With new technological developments, the tapping of shale
gas formations has become easier. These advances have led to an eightfold
increase in shale gas production over the past decade. According to the Energy
Information Administration, shale gas will account for nearly half of the
natural gas produced in the U.S. by 2035. But the bonanza is not without

The most high-profile
controversy surrounding shale gas is the potential for fracking to contaminate
drinking water
with methane or drilling chemicals.
say contamination of ground water is inevitable, and some have even gone so far
as to approve fracking bans.
It can
be concluded that the fracking for shale gas wasn't inherently worse for
groundwater than conventional oil and gas drilling.

The technology involves fracturing, or fracking, rock
formations and injecting massive amounts of water to suck out the natural gas.

No one disputes that the waste water unleashed is
environmentally unfriendly, but it can be argued that with the right collection
and treatment setup, the water can be rendered harmless, and even be made
drinkable again,
and also
mitigating other associated risks by better drilling practices.

With this set-up in place, not much harm can be done to
the environment.

Bassey Kufre Peter's picture

Before i start, i will like to define fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” is the process of injecting a mixture of water, toxic chemicals, and sand underground to create fractures, through which natural gas can flow for collection. Some of the chemicals used in fracking process includes: Glutaraldehyde, Quaternary ammonium chloride, Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulphate, Ammonium Persulphate, etc. Research has shown that these chemicals used in fracking generates dangerous wastes as by-products and that this wastes destroys wildlife, permanently poisons waterways and our land.
As a result of these by-products, fracking could irreversibly change our lives, damage our health, destroy our environment, Threaten our property values and permanently conterminate our water. It is also proven as one of the major source of earth quake.
Records had it that fracking  had caused earth quake in most developed countries of the world such as: England, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and the outcome has shown a devastating effect on the health, livelihood and personal finances of homeowners and farmers across these region and its neigbouring countries.
As Safety Engineering Student, having critically analyzed fracturing as a major method of extracting shale gas, its risks, hazards  and consequences and  implication to the community and also based on the past experience outlined above, I would like to say that most of those accidents could have been caused by lack of strict legislation in place, poor HSE laws and incompetency on the path of the operator(s). THE WORLD IS IN DEAR NEED OF ENERGY, I recommend that FRACKING SHOULD NOT BE BANNED BUT EACH COUNTRY SHOULD ENACT STRICT LEGISTRATION TO ENSURE THAT THE RISK IS REDUCED TO AS LOW AS REASONABLE PRACTICABLE(ALARP) BY THE OPERATORS AND ONLY HIGHLY QUALIFIED OPERATORS SHOULD BE GIVEN THE LICENCE TO CARRY OUT THE FRACTURING PROCESS and also a non toxic chemical should be researched by the OIL AND GAS CHEMISTS, So that this untapped energy resources that could transform economy of a country and the world would not lie waste. 
[Accessed, 05/11/2012]
Bassey, Kufre Peter
M.Sc-Subsea Engineering-2012/2013
University of Aberdeen.

AndrewRCarss's picture

Bassey, I agree with your opening statement, “ Fracking should not be banned,” but would like to come back on some of your other points on which I do not agree.

You paint a very grim picture of this technology in your post, ”damage our health, destroy our environment, threaten our property values and permanently contaminate our water.”  I think your opinion represents the modern day hysteria, stirred up by the British tabloids, that surrounds the use of unknown technologies such as fracking.

It is opinions such as these that I believe is scaring innovative companies, prepared to use this technology, from developing it further.  What chance do the companies stand of obtaining their exploration licences, when the very people set to benefit from it have already formed unfounded, biased opinions due British press hysteria.

Granted, the process may cause minor tremors deep below the earth’s surface, but are not the, “major source of earthquakes” that you describe. The one in England registered a mere 3.2 on the Richter scale, one expert compared this to the vibration felt from moving traffic when crossing the road.

Another of your points on which I do not agree is that, countries should enact strict legislation to ensure that the risk is reduced to ALARP.  I believe, “Strict” legislation, is what strangles innovation. To pioneer and develop this relatively new technology companies in the UK, prepared to take on the risks, should be able to continue with their activities staying within the current UK regulatory system.

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

Oluwatadegbe Adesunloye Oyolola's picture

Hydrocarbon production from shale plays has been an existing means of exploiting
resources even before the conventional energy industry was developed.
Though shale plays tend to be more promising in scale size and provide a long production life cycle, generating commercial and profitable rates that are economically viable for development of shale reservoirs pose to be the main challenge. The geological properties of shale plays require an additional support to stimulate the natural fractures. The principal reason is the economical production of shale gas.

It is not the amount of total resources trapped in a formation that matters, but a question of how
much can be economically recovered in an environmentally friendly manner. Thorough attention is being given to the environmental effects associated with the development of shale plays. Pronounced disputes such as noise and traffic, land and water usage, disposal of waste, concerns water quality and quantity etc are the direct result of the fracturing processes. The most pronounced being the
effect of fracturing fluids. The major concerns with hydraulic fracking operations exist in the additives (or fracking fluids) containing toxic chemicals, the possibility of toxic chemicals coming in contact with
underground water aquifers, water quality and quantity. The amount of additives used during fracturing is only 0.5 percent of the entire fracking fluids. Though this chemical percentage seems to be inconsequential in volume, it should be noted that a single stimulation operation involves millions of gallons of fracking fluids. A rough estimate of this analogy would give a total of 5000
gallons of fracking chemicals for every one million gallons of fracking fluid utilized. Taking into account this effect, the entire amount of chemicals utilized will be considerably larger in the long run.

These toxic chemicals pose the most dangerous threat if they contact the ground water aquifers, contaminating the water supply for domestic usage. To avoid this risk to the
water supplies, one or more steel casing is placed around the wellbore between the shale rock formation and the shale well. The annulus must be properly sealed and cemented to prevent hydrocarbons and fracking fluids from coming into direct contact with water supplies.
The source of carcinogenic substances in wellbore must be identified, stating whether or not contaminations may have occurred during migration of shale oil and shale gas from the reservoir.

With broadened characterization, such threats can easily be identified, understood and managed rightly.


US Department of Energy (DOE) and National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL).: Shale Gas: Applying Technology to Solve America’s Energy Challenges. Washington, DC; March 2011;

Available at:


Demarchos, A. S., Chomatas, A. S., Economides, M. J., and Wolcott, D. S.: Pushing the Limits in Hydraulic Fracturing Design. SPE Paper 87483 International Symposium and Exhibition; 20-21 February 2004; Lafayette, Louisiana: SPE; February 2004.

Galusky, L. P.: Fort Worth Basin Barnett Shale Natural Gas Play: An Assessment of Present and Projected Fresh Water Use; April 2007.

Available at:

Adesunloye-Oyolola O.

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Adekola Obayomi's picture

One of the phrases used by Emmanuel Mbata that caught my attention earlier on in the blog is “figure-it-out-as-we-go”.  This alone shows that we cannot totally do away with reactive measures when it comes to safety regulation in the oil and gas industry.

As most of the people who have commented earlier in the blog have rightly said, fracking of shale gas is still relatively new when compared with the conventional oil & gas industry and only time will tell the extent of the risk it poses to our environment.  The safety regulation required for any relatively new technology will always start using reactive measures and as more experience is gained using the technology and the risk associated with the technology is better understood, it will eventually evolve into a prescriptive legislation.

Further researches into the claims and counterclaims of its effect on the environment is still on-going and one can only say time will tell.  The question I will leave you with is…What damage would we have caused before we realise the consequences of our current practices?

Adekola Obayomi's picture

I will like to shed more light on seismic activities associated with farcking as raised by Adejugba Olusola, Kwadwo Boateng and max0yang above

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), scientists have been investigating the recent increase in the number of magnitude 3 and greater earthquakes in the midcontinent of the United States. Beginning in 2001, the average number of earthquakes occurring per year of magnitude 3 or greater increased significantly, culminating in a six-fold increase in 2011 over 20th century levels [1].  This survey was carried out to determine if the increase was natural or they were man-made due to the change in energy production activities in the region. This was carried out by investigating the large USGS databases of earthquakes recorded since 1970.

A link to their findings by David J. Hayes, Deputy Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior can be found in reference [2].

The graph below shows that there has been a non-linear increase in the number of earthquake events per year within the region.


Cumulative number of earthquakes M3 or greater in the midcontinental United States

Graph source: [1]

In order to further support the relationship between shale fracking activities and increased seismic activities, earthquakes of magnitude close to 5 have been recorded at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal well, near Denver, Colorado due to the injection of large volume of wastewater between 1962 and 1966. Three further earthquakes with magnitudes near 5 were recorded more than a year after the injection has been stopped [3].

I am in support of the search for alternative energy sources; however, if research has shown that such alternative sources are not safe for the environment, I will exercise caution in proceeding further with such a technology until the risks associated with it can be proven to be As Low as Reasonably Practicable.


Ber_Mar's picture

Being the Us one of the main drivers of shale gas due to their need of energetic independence, with election of president Obama the responsability and need for correct regulations in at the days agenda (1).


As for the earthquakes i found this evidence supporting your research (2), some investigators say that these earthquakes are in fact the release of potential energy which if released in only one occasion would have serious consequences. As it is stated in the article one should also not forget that eartquakes rupture cemet that keeps the aquiferes safe from chemicals.

 The emissions for lifecycle are 9000 times bigger than initial predicted and ammount of gas suficient only for 20 years.

Therefore i would like to finish with this question, wouldnt it be better for the united states to invest the same ammount as invested in shale gas improvment on the development of biofuels, creating jobs boosting the economy and lowering CO2 emissions?


“To destroy is easier than to create, and that is why so many people are ready to demonstrate against what they reject. But what would they say if one asked them what they wanted instead?”
Ivan Klíma, Love and Garbage

Read more quotes from Ivan Klíma




adavis's picture

Interesting.  I'm not sure I agree that your alternatives such as biofuel are much less risky.  As has been pointed out several times in this thread, there are risk with every activity.  The human race has an impact on the world regardless how we chose to live.  I believe the trick is to intelligently manage those risk. 

As I read through this discussion, I can't help but wonder where we would be now.  If Edison and others had simply shied away from electric light bulbs because of the risk. Would we all be reading books by candle light?  Without a doubt the world would be a different place but would it be better?

Oluwatadegbe Adesunloye Oyolola's picture

According to a number of studies and publications reviewed, shale oil and gas development pose riskto air quality. These risks are generally the result of engine exhaust from increased truck traffic, emissions from diesel-powered pumps used to power equipment, intentional flaring or venting of gas for operational reasons, and unintentional emissions of pollutants from faulty equipment or impoundments. It appears the federal government’s General Accounting Office (GAO) can't point to a definitive study documenting these risks.

With respect to water contamination, the GAO references a 2012 University of Texas study on drilling that discusses the potential impact on watersheds susceptible to temperature changes due to reduced water flows after withdrawal of water for fracturing. They also cite three studies from 2011 – the Center for Rural Pennsylvania that found "no statistically significant increases in pollutants" and the Ground Water Protection Council that also found no incidents of groundwater contamination caused by fracturing. The GAO also pointed to a Duke University study of the Marcellus and Utica shale formations that found methane in watersheds regardless of whether fracturing had occurred. Yet again, there is no real evidence tying fracturing to groundwater pollution.

The GAO wrote, "Regulatory officials we met with from eight states – Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Texas – told us that, based on state investigations, the hydraulic fracturing process has not been identified as a cause of groundwater contamination within their states."




Adesunloye-Oyolola O.

MSc Oil and Gas Engineering

Fungisai N Nota's picture

The fracking for shale gas is said to have extended the gas life with as it was rapidly depleting. The fracking of gas is said to be cheaper hence large countries like America have adopted it. There is more harm done from fracking as this involves breaking down a rock structure introducing fractures through pressure but as we all know when tampering with the earth plates there are higher chances of earthquakes and with the earth movement can also result in landslides in Blackpool they had to stop fracking because of the earthquakes it was causing. There is also the high risk of contaminating the water source the supplies the communities with the chemical that they inject into the ground. These has been seen a lot in America where one has opened the tap and lit a match and the water lights up due to the gas in it. The release of harmful gases from chemicals such as silica to the surface environment not only causes lung problems to the works themselves but can move into the community as well. There are chances of heavy metal being release giving way to radioactive coming to the surface during the flow back. With more disadvantages even though most say it is economically cheaper   and viable I do believe that it should be Banned.

Fungisai Nota BEng(Hons) MIET

Tilak Suresh Kumar's picture

The Fracking Song:

New supplies of gas from shale could provide many with an
attractive, lower-carbon transition fuel on the path to a fully renewable
energy supply, while providing jobs and generating appreciable revenue.
However, these opportunities cannot be realized unless the environmental risks
posed by shale gas development are managed effectively. Analysis suggests that
while shale gas development poses significant risks to the environment,
including faulty well construction, blowouts, and above-ground contamination
due to leaks and spills of fracturing fluids and waste water, technologies and
best practices exist that can help manage these risks. 

Best practices are currently being applied by some producers
in some locations, but not by all producers in all locations. Enforcing strong
regulations is necessary to ensure broader adoption of these practices and to
minimize risk to the environment. In addition, if increased shale gas development
is to be undertaken responsibly, the cumulative risks of developing thousands
of wells must be considered. On-going studies by the Environmental Protection
Agency and others examining the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing
will arm state decision makers with critical information upon which
to base future regulations. By developing and adopting innovative best
practices, industry can take a proactive role in addressing the environmental
risks associated with shale gas development. 


1. Addressing the Environmental Risks from Shale Gas Development by Worldwatch Institute.

Liu Yishan's picture

The most controversial issue of fracking is the toxic chemicals which be released to the underground water. When the liquids with chemicals return to the water circulation, it can pollute drinking water and atmosphere. These poisonous substances may affect human health. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (2011) states that people in the area of fracking in the US suffered different kinds of diseases such as asthma, pains and headaches. It had badly influence on their lives, as they cannot use the local water resources any more. Under the current technology, oil and gas companies could not solve this problem. Therefore, I think fracking is so dangerous for now that it should be banned until the fracking technique is mature in the future.

Reference: The US Environmental Protection Agency (2011).

Maxwell Otobo's picture

I do not think fracturing for shale gas is safe to the environment. As we all know, shale gas is one of the unconventional sources of natural gas and involves hydraulic fracturing for its extraction in commercial quantities. During this hydraulic fracturing and extraction process, damages could be done to the environment and such damages include;1.       Contamination of groundwater – where fractures may extend into shallower rocks containing the groundwater, causing the migration of gas into this area therefore contaminating the ground water aquifers. 2.       According to the US geological survey, hydraulic fracturing could cause small earthquakes. An evidence of this is what has happened in the Blackpool region of the UK where two minor earthquakes occurred as a result of shale gas exploration and extraction. Both wells that caused the earthquakes are the first to be drilled in the UK for shale gas exploration and extraction activity and as a result of the environmental issue, the government had to suspend the hydraulic fracturing for shale gas in the UK.Hydraulic fracturing for shale gas has been completely banned in France.  

Although in the US, shale gas is known to be the largest source of natural gas and fastest contributor to the total primary energy.

Reference: Natural gas. Natural shale gas. [Online] [Cited: November 08, 2012.]

Liu Yishan's picture

When the fracking for shale gas is proceeding, the underground tension increases rapidly. It could lead to minor earthquakes which have already brought about people's resentment to the process. The Guardian (Jowit et al., 2011) reported that there were two earthquakes in north-west England in April and May of 2011. It finds that this area never had earthquake before, but after the oil and gas companies extracted gas nearby the people experienced the disaster. Although these earthquakes are very slight, they caused people's panic about the fracking. The newspaper mentioned that about 50 anti-fracking activists gathered in London to disrupt an industry conference. It also referred the objectors claimed that government should prohibit the process of fracking as it is risky. I think people should get a reasonable explanation about the fracking when oil and gas companies obtain benefits from this process. Otherwise, there would be more and more anti-fracking actions happened.

Reference: Jowit, J.& Meikle ,J.& Malik ,S.(2011,November 3rd). Fracking Probably Caused Earthquakes, Report Finds. The Guardian

As a lot of friends cited here, there are a lot of environmental issues regarding hydraulic fracturing. about contamination of underground water, I should say that during fracking, the wellbore is isolated with alot of steel casings. In addition to casing, cement is injected under high pressure to isolate the wellbore. also, regarding to an article I've read, there is a long way between water sources and the shale layer which makes the contamination unlikely to happen. about seismic activity,in the UK it first raised after 2 earthquakes in Blackpool but it has not proven yet that the earthquakes have relation with hydraulic fracturing. I think the main issue relates to the high volume of water used in this technology since in the future human will certainly have troubles wth meeting the water demand.All in all, I believe that every single energy source will be needed and we should not ban shale gas exploitation since it can have a "game changer" role in alot of countries just as its roll in the US. Instead of banning a technology because of its minimal risks,we should manage the risks and search for some alternatives for the parts which pose risk.


amir masoud bayat's picture

I share Nina's idea to a large extent and I want to add something to her comment. As she said, underground water contamination is not a major concern.  One evidence for this claim is that in May 2011, a UK parliamentary commitee has cited that there is no evidence about underground water contamination risks by hydraulic fracturing providing good casing and cementing(KPMG global energy institute,2011). About the concern of the volume of water used that is raised here, I should make you aware that Liquid petroleum gas(LPG), CO2 and hydrogen gas foams and gels are new alternatives to water which can not only reduce the concern about water sources but also can raise the production efficiency. From my point of view, countries should not ban shale gas production( like France did). By shale gas production, countries can reduce their dependancy and experience what the Us has experienced. they can also stop russia and middle east's monopoly of natural gas to reduce the price of natural gas.

William J. Wilson's picture

Essentially answering the original question: No, I do not think fracking for shale gas should be banned.  However, the environmental safety concerns of this process range from contamination, induced seismicity and radioactive materials being released.  It is clear that every form of natural resource extraction is invasive, whether it is cutting down trees, conventionally extracting oil, coal mining, etc; there are always unique drawbacks to every method in terms of environmental impact. Each method and source bringing different and often unwanted environmental changes. 

Why should a relatively new method of Fracking for shale gas be considered as more damaging than any other method of extracting natural resources.  The management of this system should not be complacent though.  Having an “safe until unsafe culture” does drive progress forward however this very culture was responsible for the NASA challenger disaster so caution should be taken. An “unsafe until safe culture” is probably what most people would like to believe is the right thing to have in an organisation, but fear of something going wrong will not bring the business any profits year on year.

William Wilson
MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

Angelos Hadjiantoni's picture

In my opinion shale gas fracking should be banned for the reasons I will explain below.
One major hazard associated with the fracking process is the pollution of underground aquifers.
US Environmental Protection Agency found methane gas in water supplies and from further research the gas was related to the drilling process. 
The chemicals used for fracking can cause serious health problems like cancer for example.
Also the high water demand for the process might impose a competition with other uses of the water especially in local areas.

Apart from the water issues there are also air pollution issues. Benzene levels near oil wells in Texas were 5 times more than the allowed levels.
Also other problems have occur at areas near the wells: “a Texas hospital serving six counties near drilling sites reported asthma rates three times higher than the state average; one quarter of young children in the community had asthma”.

Fracking for shale gas can also cause small earth tremors.
Even though supporters claim that the tremors are not that strong to damage buildings or humans nobody knows how different areas might react.
Finally expect from the very important health and safety issues, if we keep digging out every possible amount of gas,
humanity will never realise the importance of a cleaner renewable future and development of more sustainable energy forms will likely be slowed down.

Angelos Hadjiantoni
MSc Renewable Energy



Hi Angelos, I totally disagree with you. All energy sources have its associated risk. You have outlined the consequences of shale gas fracking which is severe, how can we then mitigate its hazards there by reducing the risk. 

About half of America's gas supply for a century is stored in shale, should this gas just be abandoned or should a better way of fracking be introduced? You have reasonable reasons for your worry. Yes, the chemicals used for fracking can cause health problems, water and air pollution. It can also cause small earth tremors.

As Safety Engineers, we should be looking for ways to mitigate these risks. Well shafts do not leak when it is properly concreted. The water, sand and chemicals that regurgitates can be properly collected and made safe for disposal. Gas flaring and venting can be limited to acceptable levels. The risk of tremors can be contained by careful monitoring. 



Angelos Hadjiantoni's picture

As I have mentioned to a post in the geothermal blog (,
I am generally against fracking until it is proven that the causes of risks are known and can be at least minimized.

Now about the fact that this is fracking for oil and gas which can provide a solution to energy problems sure a lot of debate can be generated.
My worries rise from the fact that the contamination caused by those chemicals is already proven and is not just a hypothesis.
The wasted contaminated water is stored into pond and some of the leaked and affected the surrounding areas.
Maybe a more proper way of managing the procedure will change this.  But in 2011 the CO2 emissions reached record levels of 31.6 gigatonnes.

My personal opinion is that at some point oil and gas consumption should be balanced with other cleaner sources.
Of course this is something that even though it sounds ideal when money comes into play things change.

Best regards,
Angelos Hadjiantoni
MSc Reneable Energy


Ekaterina Pavlichenko's picture

Yes Okeke, I mostly agree with you and would further add my thoughts also on this matter, that in considering that the world has been mostly dependent for its oil and gas from the Middle Eastern world; the fairly recent discovery of the technique of fracking for shale oil and gas means that the world dynamics are now changed because gas and oil-bearing shale is scattered throughout the world, including tremendous reserves in Great Britain.

One of the largest discoveries to be made, the Bowland shale site in the Blackpool area of Lancashire, is a thicker seam than any discovered elsewhere. The exploration company conducting this research has stated that ‘Blackpool is sitting on one of the biggest shale gas fields in the world — with a reserve of 200 trillion cubic feet lying under the Lancastrian countryside’ and with other known deposits throughout a large part of Great Britain it could well be that this promises to be as important as North Sea Oil. It must be noted that while the shale gas reserves in Great Britain are huge, these are nothing in consideration to the oil shale reserves in sedimentary rock spread out not only throughout Great Britain but throughout the entire world!

The real problem with fracking is not the technological process but the political and financially vested interests that stand to lose heavily, having put forward either political policies that enforce the lunacy of wind farms or their money into other so called ‘green technologies’. It is these vested interests that are dramatising any minor concern that might be related to fracking and turning these into epic disasters in the minds of the less informed.

That is why we hear so much in the news these days about shale oil and gas extraction causing earthquakes and pollution of the water supply. In truth there is no substance to these scare stories, a joint study by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering has pointed out that the so-called Blackpool earthquake caused by fracking last year was, in fact a barely perceptible tremor of a kind that occur naturally every year.

As pointed out by Nina above, scare stories about fracking leading to water pollution are equally unfounded, with upwards of a mile of solid rock separating the shallow aquifers from which we draw our drinking water from the deep deposits where the shale gas is to be found and where the actual fracking takes place.

There is only one conclusion that can be drawn and that is that once the general public understand the facts surrounding fracking they will refuse to continue to pay heavily into the pockets of those vested interests pushing ‘green technologies’. What is clear is that natural gas is going to offer the cheapest way to produce electricity; far cheaper than nuclear energy and massively cheaper than any ‘renewable’ form of energy and with this in mind we must prepare for the future and consider the HSE impacts that are associated with fracking!

Sineenat Kruennumjai's picture

 Discusses Topic 3; Is fracking for shale gas safe and without damage to community environment? Should it be banned?
 Hydraulic fracturing or fracking refers to the certain principles of using high pressure fluids to create fracture in order to produce fossil fuel (gas or oil). The fluids use in this processes consist lots of chemicals compounds. Although fracking has been used to produce much much more natural gas, it also has lots of risks. First of all, the fracture, which is cracked from hydraulic infection, might cause earthquake in some area. Secondly, chemical compounds in the fluid can pollute nature water resources. More than that, if fracking was not done carefully, it can pollute the water supplies underground.
 In my point of view, I think fracking should not be banned because it produces very high quantity of natural gas which is bringing about the massive decrease in fuel price. For protecting the side effects or problems from this technique, such issues should be fully investigated and confirmed of the safety before implementation.       

 Posted by
 Sineenat Kruennumjai
 Student ID 51126536


Harrison Oluwaseyi's picture

The science of fracking for shale
gas was dated to as far back the early 19th century in North America. It is
carried out by drilling of horizontal wells into shale formations which contain
significant amount of reserves followed by the injection of large volumes of
fluids such as fresh water and between 80 - 300 different chemicals to fracture
the formation in the increase the permeability’s of fractured region so as to
increase flow of reservoir fluids. Since the introduction of this technique
there have been concerns about its effect on the environment over years such as
the amount of fresh water used, contamination of underground water reserves,
release of radioactive metals, and treatment of waste water after injection etc

Above are a few challenges
associated with shale gas, asides these recent studies have shown that because of
the production and use of shale gas in recent times cities like Beijing would
have cleaner air, the US would go from been the largest consumer to the largest
gas producers in the next decade. The best way new technologies can be applied
effectively is through trial and error, the shale fracking industry needs
improvement before it can get the total support of various bodies and governments
across different nations.  


1)March 2012, Friends of the
Earth, "Shale gas :energy solution or fracking hell".

2)2011 , Matt RIdley,"The
Shale gas Shock".

Richard Sedafor's picture


Hydraulic fracking used in the extraction of petroleum resources, natural gas,shale gas and other substances is a very fast growing technology. But this technology also carries with it the high risk of pollution to underground water available on the site. This is because during fracking huge amount of chemicals, sands, and water that is injected at high pressure into the formations to make the extraction of these resources possible and easier. Seismic activity can easily be triggered by this method. With these concerns in mind the EU and other countries like Canada have started reviewing their legal framework to ensure that communities are protected from the adverse effects of these fracking and its related activities.

In canada, the development and regulation of oil and gas including shale fracking activities is under provincial jurisdiction whish prohibits the pollution of ground water under the environmental and water acts. Again, Individuals in communities can seek injunction on the activities of companies that may be polluting their groundwater under The Common Law. There are indications that laws and regulations will be further strengthened to keep Shale gas exploration companies in check.

In the EU, the Water framework directive, does not permit the pollution of ground water through the injection of Chemicals(pollutants) which is an activity that is undertaken while fracking for shale gas. Also the Mining Waste directive of the EU could be against the fluids that fall back to the surface after shale drilling.

While negotiations are still ongoing in the legal circles, there is the possibility of Shale gas extraction being subjected to more stricter regulation that will hinder its fast advancement.




The fracking for shale gas
could cause water contamination which will lead to water safety issue. The
water contamination mainly include the pollution by fracking fluid to
underground water source and the pollution by flowback fluid to surface water
The development of shale gas
may make a significant impact on local atmosphere quality. High power diesel
engine is required to provide power for fracking water injection for shale gas
which will result in a great deal of waste emission.
In addition, a series of environmental problems could be triggered which
include surface and vegetation to be damaged and noise pollution, etc. Shale
gas may contribute a lot for future energy shortage so the research on shale
gas shall be continued. However, more attention shall be put into the safety
issues of shale gas development before it could be utilized on a large scale.

Igwe Veronica Ifenyinwa's picture

Hydraulic fracturing is a means of extracting unconventional oil and gas resources.  The formations of these resources have lower permeability when compared with conventional gas formations. This is as a result of the geological characteristics of the formation and as such specific technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing, are required. There are other techniques that could be used to extract these resources, but hydraulic fracturing is one of the main methods of making their extraction technically viable. The fracturing technique has made the production of shale gas possible.

Hydraulic fracturing is a confirmed and well-regulated technology that has played an essential role in energy industry. It unlocked enormous new supplies of oil and clean-burning natural gas from dense deposits of shale supplies that boost some country’s energy security and advance their ability to generate electricity, heat homes and power vehicles for generations to come.  Fracking of shale gas should not be banned because of some environmental risk associated to it rather we should look for a way of harnessing the resources in a controlled fashion because every technology has its pros and cons.

Yaw Akyampon Boakye-Ansah's picture

Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves pumping water, chemicals and sand
underground to free difficult-to-reach natural gas in shale basins. It has come
under criticism from environmental groups and some lawmakers over perceived toxins
in the mix which may contaminate air and water (1).

According to reports in some communities in the US where ‘fracking’
is dominant, reports indicate that although the inhabitants have been made
aware of and compensated for the activities ongoing, they face some key issues
which have caused acute changes in their ‘normal’ life (2)(4).

The eyesore of gas installations, the noise from drilling
activities, the dust from construction/installation sites, the occasional
deluge and effluences from these installations are not pleasant and pose safety
and environmental risks to the community.

Additionally, the chemicals that are used are so varied that
the US government is finding it difficult to track and certify them. Some
residents have been on record to prove that their sources of potable drinking water
have become polluted with one such complainant being paid off due to the
hitherto unpreparedness of the producing company to investigate the change in
the water conditions in their surroundings.

One other incident had the resident light fire from their running
water because flammable material was being produced alongside the water from
the pipes (2)(3). It is thus a concern for gas companies to ensure that their
activities do not further impact the lives of residents negatively in those
areas where shale gas is found near or in residences.








Yaw A. Boakye-Ansah

AndrewRCarss's picture

Reading through the posts since my last blog, I have been listening to people’s opinions on wither or not fracking should be banned, but is this really the question that we should be asking?

In my opinion groundwater pollution and seismic activity are not the issue.

I have no doubt that if we wanted to progress fracking technology in the UK, our companies could do it just as efficiently and as safely as the US, if not better. We have research and development capabilities, an established hydrocarbon industry and our regulatory framework is second to none.

My question is why would we want a technology that is a vast drain on natural resources when we have been pumping billions into investment of green technologies, such as tidal and wind energies?

In the US, granted, they have embraced fracking had are soon set to be the world’s biggest natural gas producer. But let us question America’s commitment to our natural environment. The Koyoto Protocol, set out in Japan 2007, introduced mechanisms to stimulate green development with the aim of reducing global emissions. America was the only industrialised country not to sign up.

To start to exploit a finite resource, with debatable benefits in my opinion is wrong and would be a massif step backwards for the UK.

Let us continue to set an example to the rest of the world by leading in the development in green energies.

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

charlesggeorge's picture


Currenlty, millions of
people already affected by the shale gas and fracking due to its harmful
effects. Fracking is the technology used to extract natural gas from dense
shale or from coal. Effects is due to fracking is because of releases of toxic
chemicals into air, water and soil by each 
phase of the process starting from the drilling to waste storage and disposal.
Another important point is that in  Hydraulic fracturing, there is an possibility
of cancer risk  whcih is cancer causing chemical which are associated with
all satges of hydraulic fracturing process. In this it releases radioactive as
well as other naturally hazardous materials from the shale. There is an possibility
of drilling related air pollution and also disposal waste will contaminate
water as well.


AndrewRCarss's picture


No doubt..fracking carries its inherent risks on which I agree with you.

However, these risks can all be managed through the technology and legislation that already exists in this country, and should not be a basis for your negative stance on fracking.

Look at the oil and gas industry. There are naturally occurring radioactive materials that our colleagues in the industry have to deal with every day, there are toxic gases that are present in the production facilities and carcinogenic chemicals that are used on the platforms on a daily basis. These risks do not stop a multi-billion dollar industry from developing. The risks are managed down to as low as reasonably practical so the people that work in the industry can go about their jobs safely.

I also do not agree with your comment that “millions of people have been affected due to it harmful effects”.

 In my opinion fracking is not, and will not, be developed in any significant form in this country. Not because of  the negative risks that you talk of, but because it is simply not economically viable nor in the interests of this country to do so.

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

charlesggeorge's picture


i agree with you that all risk
factors can managed through new technology and legislation in this country, but
i talked about in general only. There are a lot of people currently affecting
due to shale gas fracking. Fracking and shale gas cause serious as well as
irreversible several health risks, cancer, respiratory damage and also endocrine
disruption which lead to birth defects and increase cancer risks. According to data’s,
More than 25% of the chemicals used in natural gas operations have been
demonstrated to cause cancer or mutations

i mention about this " millions of people have been affected due to
it harmful effects" is from one of the website



AndrewRCarss's picture

Hi George,I have read the article you are referring to and I am assuming the statements, from your post above, are based on Dr Sandra Steingraber’s own speculative opinions.Your statements are unfounded and are not backed up with any concrete factual evidence. In fact if you are to read on you will find a quote from Christopher Portier, the director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry stating, ” We do not have enough information on hand to be able to draw good solid conclusions about whether this is a public health risk as a whole.”Yes I agree that there are carcinogenic compounds used in the fracking process, but these will only cause cancer where they are not managed properly. Let’s compare this to the plastics industry where they use tones of methanol, also a carcinogenic substance, in the production of plastics. The hydraulic brake fluid we use in our cars is also cancer causing, but you seldom see anybody rubbing it over their hands.The engineers involved in the fracking process have a duty to protect themselves and the general public and I have no doubt that this is the case. Although I’m sure you could find a couple of isolated exceptions if you looked hard enough. The toxic chemicals released into the air, Dr Steingraber refers to, come from exhaust fumes from the increased truck movements and the heavy machinery. Not from the fracking process itself. You would expect to see this from any heavy industry; in fact it’s probably more harmful to walk down a busy street during rush hour.Perhaps if Dr Steingraber was an engineer with an MSc in Safety & Reliability Engineering, she may understand the concept of a risk based approach much better.The fact remains, America are happy to continue with an unsustainable, resourse sapping industry. We should not follow their lead in this country.

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

AndrewRCarss's picture

Hi George,

I have read the article you are referring to and I am assuming the statements, from your post above, are based on Dr Sandra Steingraber’s own speculative opinions.

Your statements are unfounded and are not backed up with any concrete factual evidence. In fact if you are to read on you will find a quote from Christopher Portier, the director of the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry stating, ” We do not have enough information on hand to be able to draw good solid conclusions about whether this is a public health risk as a whole.”

Yes I agree that there are carcinogenic compounds used in the fracking process, but these will only cause cancer where they are not managed properly. Let’s compare this to the plastics industry where they use tones of methanol, also a carcinogenic substance, in the production of plastics. The hydraulic brake fluid we use in our cars is also cancer causing, but you seldom see anybody rubbing it over their hands.

The engineers involved in the fracking process have a duty to protect themselves and the general public and I have no doubt that this is the case. Although I’m sure you could find a couple of isolated exceptions if you looked hard enough.

The cancer causing toxic chemicals released into the air, Dr Steingraber refers to, come from exhaust fumes from the increased truck movements and the heavy machinery. Not from the fracking process itself. You would expect to see this from any heavy industry; in fact it’s probably more harmful to walk down a busy street during rush hour.

Perhaps if Dr Steingraber was an engineer with an MSc in Safety & Reliability Engineering, she may understand the concept of a risk based approach much better.

The fact remains, America are happy to continue with an unsustainable, resourse sapping industry. We should not follow their lead in this country.


Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)

charlesggeorge's picture

Hi Andrew,Yes you may be right :-). May be in future there UK government will look seriously to shale gas production with tight environmental regulations and improved technology. Currently there is significant volume of shale gas produced in US, but that success can raised interest in UK potential. There is untested shale rock volume in the UKis very large, for that more drilling, fracture stimulation and production testing is required to prove that shale gas is development is technically and economically viable. And also there should be further research is required for the harmful effects that caused by shale gas fracking like environmental impacts of shale gas extraction. Charles George

By far, the most significant environmental concern
of hydro-fracking for shale gas is the contamination of underground water by
methane and waste water.

Contamination may sometimes occur
through corroded well casings, spilled fracturing fluid at a drilling site,
leaked wastewater, or, more controversially, the direct movement of methane or
water upwards from deep. These pollutants sometimes include methanol, hydrochloric
acid, isopropanol and natural occurring radioactive chemicals which can damage
the brain, eyes, skin, and nervous system


Apart from the possible health implications of
consuming or contact with contaminated water this condition also pose very serious
safety challenges. For example, Methane a well-established pollutant as a
result of hydro-fracking does not alter the colour, taste or odour of water and
is not known to affect water portability. However Methane poses an asphyxiation
and explosion hazard in confined spaces when it moves from water to air.

However, these conditions are not in contrast with
most human and engineering endeavours which always have a degree of challenges associated
with them. Therefore instead of banning fracking for shale gas, further
research and effective regulations can be put up to understand the process and minimise
its impact on the environment and human health.

Examples of such research and controls are;

Evaluate the mechanism of methane
contamination of underground water

Regulate the depth below the level of aquifers
that fracking can take place.

Ensure that the wells for shale gas
production are properly constructed.

Regulate disposal of waste waters from
hydro-fracing and shale gas extraction, and

Sensitise communities and establish mechanisms
to regularly evaluate methane content in water.

Dear Colleague,

I do not view the process to be entirely harmful but the human factor behind it might be. According to Report produced by US House of Representative of Committee on Energy and Commerce, an unexpected compound were also utilized as additive. These compound are instant coffee (to inhibit acid corrosion), walnut hut (to degrade fluid viscocity) and many more [1]. Thus I do believe, without animosity and capitalism, such innovative idea could helps mitigate the controversial matters.

In other hand, studies has shown, that companies keep their chemical composition as confidential business information[2] but there is a bill underway to make it disclose [3].

I really do think that it would be good to exploit such reserve but do it in safe manner. Waste also an issue for these method.


1. To make the E&P process as safe as possible. Dual Casing with dual cement should be utilized to mitigate well leakages.

2. To used unconventional compound for unconventional method.

3. To abondaned making profit by cutting corners mindset. (That what happened to Deepwater Horizon when they were losing the initial well and cutting down 12 centralizers to 6 for the blown up well)


1. Committe Staff (2011). Chemical Used in Hydraulic Fracturing. United States House of Representatives Commitee on Energy and Commerce

2. Hicthcock, K.M., Panko, J.M., Scott, P.K., and Unice, K.M., (2012). Comparing the Chemical Footprint of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Used in Natural Gas Extraction, ChemRisk LLC, Pittsburgh, PA.

3. Brandon, J.M., Vann, A., (2012). Hydraulic Fracturing: Chemical Disclosure Requirements. Congressional Research Services. Report No. : R42461

4. Chapter 4, Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids, Environmental Protection Agency, Report No.: EPA-816-R-04-003's picture

On July 20, the French government announced that they will not consider lifting the ban on the exploitation of shale gas. To exploit shale gas, hydraulic fracturing technology will be used in this process and this technology may produce some chemical substances, which can easily seep into the groundwater. Hence, the French government does not currently intend to put on the agenda of lifting the ban because "no one in the world can prove that the use of this technology for mining will not bring serious harm to the environment and health".
France and Poland are considered to be the largest country of the European shale gas reserves. For security reasons, the French Parliament last year passed a law to prohibit the exploitation of shale gas using hydraulic fracturing technology. Since then, the French Petroleum Industry Union has been expressed hope that the French government can lift the ban on the technology as well as allow the exploitation of shale gas.
Some scientists believe that the majority of hydraulic fracturing process is far deeper than underground aquifers, and the oil and gas wells designed multiple protection measures to isolate the drinking water with oil and gas production areas. Thus, shale oil and gas mining will not affect the safety of underground drinking water. Generally, a shale gas well fracturing required 10,000 m3 of water, and about 35% of the fracturing fluid and formation water flow back to the ground, so the flow back fluid improper disposal also contaminate surface water. The flow back fluid usually has two environmentally friendly approaches: recycling or emissions after dispose.

farman oladi's picture

In the past there has been some misleading statements and misconceptions behind modern drilling and hydraulic fracturing to achieve more from oil and gas extraction.

Upto seven million gallons of water are forced to each well for fracking.  One third of this water being trapped in the shell is lost forever.  There are some arguments that fracking has caused drought and water contamination in the surface water. Although through recycling about one  third of this water has been used for further fracking , contaminated wastewater of such action will also contributes  to the environmental and health risk. Recent studies have also been reporting earthquake caused by fracking in some areas of the United States. Implementation of stronger Federal and States Laws are required to force oil and gas  companies to take preventive actions to avoid or minimize such risks's picture


To worry about shale gas development and utilization may subvert the traditional energy market structure is totally ridiculers. Experts believe that shale gas development is conducive to the diversification of energy use, but will not replace the status of oil, natural gas and other conventional energy sources.


Mining costs


Exploitation shale gas is an important energy technology in the international energy market, before large-scale mining in the United States, they have prepared for nearly three decades.  Many countries around the world want to emulate the successful experience of the United States, but in terms of the technical difficulty, environmental or economic cost perspective, the exploitation of shale gas will not be easy. The cost of shale gas exploration is high, for instance, shale gas mining costs are higher than imported natural gas in Poland. In China, to mine a 3 km depth shale gas well need about 300 million Yuan compared with 20 million Yuan in the United States. Last year, the U.S. natural gas market price is 90-100 dollars / 1,000 cubic meters, but the price is less than the cost of mining and companies are at a loss. The experts said that if government limit companies with strict requirements in environmental protection, exploitation of shale gas costs will greatly increase.

In order to reduce losses, shale gas companies have to strengthen the complementary use of resources, such as the separation of shale gas in the liquid fraction. However, this situation is not sustainable. Moreover, the U.S. shale gas mining conditions are better than other regions, such as geological conditions, mature technologies, developed market and the government is also very supportive. However, the conditions in Europe and Asia have not yet reached the level of the United States.

AndrewRCarss's picture

Very interesting points you are alluding to Xingyuan.

It has started to make me wonder what impact the production of natural gas from fracking will have on the international markets?

In the US, they are actually overproducing natural gas from fracking, driving the price of the commodity right down. Surely this is unsustainable. Especially as the price of producing oil is set to go up as we venture into deeper more challenging environments. Will the US start to use natural gas as their primary energy source and start to slow production of oil?

In Poland, they are very keen to get their fracking industry off the ground due to their vast reserves. But at the moment they are still cheaper to import from Russia at inflated costs. Until Poland can establish fracking as a commercial operation they can go nowhere without substantial federal funding. This seems unlikely at the moment with the recession.

As you mention in your post, China, the country with the world’s largest reserves [Approx 25trillion m3] has to spend 15 times as much as the US to extract the gas. But what will happen if China's plans go ahead to produce the gas commercially? They too will be able to produce the gas at a fraction of the cost.

Is the world to regulate the price of the natural gas produced by fracking?

Perhaps the answer is to form an international organisation, such as OPEC, that could regulate the price of the gas. This could solve Poland’s problem by setting the price artificially high, the cost of extraction could be offset by the cost of the gas.

Andrew Carss - MSc Subsea Engineering (DL)


Dear all,

I would like to agree with Andrew's post on the CAPEX vs income from the exploitation of  China reserve but on other note, I don’t believe that another ‘OPEX’ like organization would emerge from this as it would be counterproductive to have an international regulators. As so happen, OPEX is viewed as a rhetoric organization where its decision always dictated by first world countries demand or power of buying and as a result, third world country will have to buy it a much higher price due to the inflation of their money.

The best way of doing this is to have National regulator to foresee every aspect of environmental, legislative and other related matter. In addition, long term production should adhere to world’s supply and demand. Excessive gas could be sold to open market but it is best to use for internal usage before considering commercializing it. Thus, we could supply the ever growing internal energy demands.



Anas Abd Rahman


Kelvin Arazu's picture

Shale gas

It is a natural gas that is produced in an unconventional way.

The gas is tightly locked in very small spaces within the shale rock formation.

Fracking is the technology used for unlocking shale gas from its source rock.

This process uses horizontal drill to stimulate (fracture) the gas-bearing zones.

The consequence of fracking reservoir rocks to produce shale gas includes:

High impact on fresh water resources because the process require several thousand cubic litres of water per well, depending on the properties of the underlying rock. 

Of environmental concern is disposal of waste water from the fracking process.

Risk to air quality

Thou some scholars are of the opinion that if fracking is continued, it can induce earthquake.

Migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface and flow back and the health effects of these.

[1] The impact of hydraulic fracking to the environment is the reason why its concept has come under scrutiny internationally, with some countries suspending this technology.
For example the French Government has jettisoned the use of this technology until an appreciable safety procedure is applied to produce shale gas.

While some countries are against fracking, the USA is discovering large reserves of shale gas and fracking is the technology used in the US for exploiting shale gas reservoirs.

In conclusion, study of such sensitive issues there is going to be disagreements. But if we don't even try to get an assessment of the consequence of fracking and what to do to mitigate its impact on health and environment, it's a missed opportunity.

[1] Tom Shelley: The Health Effects and Other Hazards of Hydrofracking, Weiskotten Hall, Irving Ave., Syracuse, New York, 2011.


YAKUBU ABUBAKAR 51126107's picture


A lot have been said about the shale gas fracking its evil
and benefit but, based on the available information fracking for shale is
actually safe to the communities and the environment at large. The united state
energy industry are ahead in the activities shale fracking over the years, and
it has resulted to a lot of benefit to the country and community due to the
large demean for energy and the scare 
energy sources  shale fracking
provide an easy way out of the difficult situation. It provides the following
benefit to the community:

Reduction in the high cost of energy,  create employment to the people by building
infrastructures such as pipeline, power plant and other supply chain, reduction
in dependence of other sources of energy especially coal and nuclear and
finally the gas power plant produce more cleaner energy than the conventional
coal there by reducing CO2 emission.

I support that the industry to be regulated NOT BANNED where
by the chemical use to be known and tested to be environmentally friendly and
also reduction in the amount of water use as well by ensuring adequate
treatment of waste.




amaka.ikeaka's picture

While the current practices of hydraulic fracking
have been unacceptable from a health and wellness standpoint, it has been
predicted that the world's energy demand will increase by 32-40% over the next
twenty years and hydraulic fracturing is a method of energy generation that
cannot be abandoned. It is important, however, that steps are taken to
ameliorate the groundwater contamination caused by current fracking techniques.

Hydraulic fracking should be performed using sand
as proppant, and pressurized water as the fracking fluid. This would pose no
health or contamination risk to the residents who depend on groundwater for
everyday life. If fluid additives absolutely must be used, they should be
non-toxic. Offshore drilling companies have developed fracking fluids, which
are non-toxic to marine life, and these practices should be adopted by inland
fractures as well. In addition, while its common practice to include diesel
fuel in the fracking fluid, this should be avoided, as diesel includes
extremely toxic constituents. Research has shown that diesel fuel does not
improve the effectiveness of fracking fluid; it is merely a liquid substance by
which to deliver the proppants and sufficient pressure to fracture the
oil-containing formation. It is therefore feasible to replace diesel fuel with
water, which, when pressurized, will deliver the same result with no toxic

I would think that if the toxic fracking fluids
could be substituted with safer additives, then fracking would become an
optimal energy-generating method. The main concern with this technology is the
massive health risk associated with contaminated groundwater sources. If that
risk were eliminated there would be no reason to protest the use of hydraulic
fracturing as a means of energy production.

Oghenekevwe Ovbije's picture

Fracking of shale gas also know as hydraulic fracturing is a process of injecting highly pressurized fluid into the reservoir at controlled conditions to enhance the recovery of shale gas, tight gas etc. The entire fracking process except the injection stage possess a lot of danger on humans and the environment such as [1]
• Ground water contamination – toxic chemicals like formaldehyde, carcinogenic benzene and proppants like sand mixed with water and injected into the formation can contaminate the water system.                                                                •Blow out  that can lead to explosion                                                                                                             •Leakage of methane emission of green house gases into the atmosphere
•Land subsidence - fracking requires a high level water consumption which is extracted from the earth can lead to the gradual sinking of the land surface.
•Disposal of contaminated water - radioactive materials and heavy metals can be released in the process.

Despite the problems associated with fracking for shale gas, the need to meet the ever growing energy demand requires the development and production of untapped resources like shale gas that has a high potential in the energy mix. Countries like China have shale gas reserves enough to generate energy for the country in the next 200yr [2]. Some countries have currently banned fracking, others are trying to put measures in place for a safer means of extraction of shale gas and trying to reduce the adverse effect on the environment.

Considering the gap in our energy demand that can be covered by the hydraulic fracking of shale gas, it should not be banned but a proper assessment should be carried on the risks and mitigation management involved in the extraction of unconventional gas. Strict supervision to ensure producers comply with regulations in place and penalties like revoked license to any producer that fails to contain situations that poses danger to humans and the environment .

[1] Fracking: what's it all about? | Friends of the Earth Scotland Available at: Accessed 11/2/2012, 2012.
[2] Natural Gas / Energy Articles | Page 9 Available at: Accessed 11/2/2012, 2012.

Justice J. Owusu's picture

In induced hydraulic fracturing, pressurized fluid is used to propagate fractures in rocks formation. The fracturing fluid usually contains water-soluble chemicals that increase its viscosity, enabling it to carry proppant into the rock formation. One of the environmental issues is the contamination of drinking water sources or invasion of underground aquifers by these chemicals. In 2012, for example, environmentalists in the US observed that fracturing fluids contain high levels of iodine-131 (a radioactive tracer) – a major contributor to health hazard.1 Release of methane from a gas well can also pollute underwater bodies. Contamination of water affects human, wildlife and aquatic lives. In my view, improve method that will eliminate the use of harmful chemicals should be developed for producing natural gas from shale.1.       Wikipedia, Environmental impact of hydraulic fracture in the United States [Internet]. 2012 November [cited 2012 December 5]. Available from


Justice J. Owusu's picture

In search of knowledge

Justice J. Owusu's picture

My earlier posting on this topic focused on aquifer
contamination from shale gas production by fracking. Another environmental
impact worth mentioning is air contamination, which lasts the life of the field.
Air pollution originates from emission of methane from the well and leakages
from equipment such as compressors used in fracking. Methane released into the
atmosphere break down to produce carbon dioxide, there by worsening the
greenhouse-gas footprint. Proppants (such as fine silica dust) used in fracking
are health hazard to worker.  Exposure to
the silicon dust will lead to inhalation, which may cause silicosis – a
preventable lung disease that is incurable. The health hazard can be controlled
by a number of measures that include staff training, use of personal protective
wears, engineering modifications and use of non-silica proppant where possible.

Ernest Appiah's picture

Fracking which is the
use of pressurized water, sand and chemicals pumped into rocks to release gas
leads to a large scale of health and environmental consequences such as noxious
air emissions, ground and surface water contamination, noise pollution and also
results in risks to biodiversity, not to mention the fact that it could also
triggers an earthquake.


A research by the European Commission suggest that
in order to produce just 10% of the UK’s gas consumption, about 2500 to 3000
horizontal wells needed to be drilled and about 133m tonnes of water would also
be needed over 20 years. This shows you the scale of the damage that will be
done to the environment for just for a small amount of gas to be retrieved. Its
production is just not economical.

Banning it entirely is not the answer but, there
should be stringent measures and laws to regulate the production sensibly. Fracking
should not be attempted near water supplies or near urban areas.  Quoting the department of Energy UK, ‘’Shale
gas operations will have to meet tough standards of safety and environmental



Fracking laws needed 'to control UK's dash for
gas', says MEP-

The Observer, Sunday
9 December 2012

Hani Shobaki's picture

There are many arguments for and against fracking. Environmental lobbyists and people who live in the area of fracking activities are clearly against it, while oil and gas companies will obviously be looking for ways to continue with the procedure. Both sides of the argument have biased objectives and it's very easy to form an unbalanced opinion if the range of literature sources is limited to one of the sides.

It is without a doubt that pumping potentially toxic chemicals into the ground near drinking water sources can introduce many hazards to those in the area. However with acts in place like the FRAC act, which forces the operator to disclose any chemicals used, it is possible that companies will avoid using any that have proven dangerous to the environment. If companies are working towards improving safety, anti-fracking lobbyist should also be willing to be flexible. It is however clear that many, like Food and Water Watch, have opinions that are unlikely to change.


Food and Water Watch. Fracking. 2012. (accessed 02 Nov 2012)

Shale Gas

The process of fracking involves sand, water or chemicals
being pumped into the rock at high pressure to produce fractures to allow the
deposited gas to flow and be store.

The more noticeable environmental impacts are noise, dust,
the increase of traffic and the scarring of the landscape. Air pollution is
concern for the local community through release of sulphur dioxide, which can cause
air rain and respiratory issues.

The pollution of water is the largest concern for the local
community of fracking by the potential contamination of the drinking water and
the food production.  The Energy and
Climate Change Committee claim the drilling causes contamination of  the water supply by the  hydraulic 
fluid ingressing through natural fractures or fractures caused by
drilling activity.

British Geological Society (BGS) have linked the earthquakes
near Blackpool to fracking activities. The epicentre of the earthquake was only
500m from the fracking drill site. 
BGS  also believe that earthquakes
will be rare and cause limited damage.

Shale gas should be banned around densely populated areas
and next to area used for food production due to the risk of contamination of
food and water and associated risks to health. 
Even though the possibility of water of contamination is low and
earthquakes are  low , it to better
develop techniques and carry out further research is more isolated locations to
understand how to extent of environmental impacts and how well they can be



James Parry
MSc Subsea Engineering

Mehran Vakil's picture

To be honest, since I have posted comments on imechanica, I have felt ashamed to study oil and gas engineering. I have realized that my major is so destructive!!!!
Anyhow, for this topic I would like to cite that:”No, fracking is not safe.”
Albeit this is a tremendous achievement for oil and gas industry, the subjects covered in fracking (hydraulic fracturing) are enormous.
Injecting fluids comprised of water, salt and chemicals accompanied by high pressure into shale layer resulted in fracturing the shale strata. After that, natural gas being exploited through the pipes (eia, 2012). That would be economical. What about the issues associated with ecosystem as well as environment?
Contamination of water in the surface and also water beneath the surface due to failed operation. Devastating effect on ecosystem and creatures dwelt around that region. Moreover, air pollution due to emitting released methane (Feitshans, 2011).
Now, for understanding better of what did I say, I invite you for watching this clip. It shows the public sympathized with fracking (Youtube, 2011)
1)EIA. 2012b. What is shale gas and why is it important? [Online]. Available: [Accessed 26/11 2012].
2)FEITSHANS, T. A. 2011. Environmental and Safety Issues Associated with Shale Gas Production [Online]. Available: [Accessed 26/11 2012].
3)YOUTUBE. 2011. Frack attack [Online]. Available: [Accessed 26/11 2012].

SanjayVyas's picture

  UK Government has allowed to resume exploring for Shale Gas with hydraulic fracturing. Fracking activities in UK were halted after two tremors at Cuadrilla’s wells in northern England last year. The subject has also raised concerns that groundwater may be contaminated by its use of chemicals pumped underground risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flow back and other health effects.  

I agree with Bassey in saying that Fracking should not be banned. It is a promising source of energy and can contribute significantly to energy security of a country. The concept of fracking / Shale Gas Exploration techniques is at early stages it is likely to develop slowly. I believe the HSE impacts such as Groundwater, Surface water, Air, Health, Seismic etc, can be addressed through application of stringent HSE legislation and through comprehensive HSE Risk/Impact assessments.



Reference- Gas fracking: Ministers approve shale gas extraction

Sanjay Vyas- (51234203)

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