What Is Fracking?
Advances in proven technology are delivering new opportunities in oil and natural gas production across the state. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has helped America to be less dependent on foreign countries for oil and natural gas. Fracking has been used for more than 60 years to safely enhance the production potential of oil and natural gas from more than one million wells in the United States. Advances in fracking technology allow operators to tap into vast oil and natural gas deposits that were once considered unreachable. While the fracking technique has been used for decades, the process has been continuously refined to be even more safe and effective. Fracking occurs at great depths, generally a mile or more underground, thousands of feet below freshwater supplies. With safety systems that include multiple layers of steel casing (pipe) and cement in place, operators drill vertically thousands of feet down then drill horizontally into the targeted rock formation. Then a mixture of pressurized water, sand and a very small amount of approved additives is pumped thousands of feet down into the formation to create tiny, millimeter-thick, fissures in carefully targeted sections of the host rock. The tiny fractures free the trapped oil or natural gas. Oil and natural gas operators in Texas typically use a fracturing compound (or fracking fluid) that is 99.5 percent water and sand and 0.5 percent chemically-based additives. The sand helps to prop open the fractures to facilitate the flow of oil or natural gas.