Let me show a simplified graphic that shows what fracking basically does.
A hole is drilled into the ground and small explosives are used to get through the ancient shalebed of limestone that traps oil and gas. Most of the east coast of America has this formation underneath with 1-11% of gas-potential in New York State. Once the hole is made a casing, that should last for 50+ years, is made of layered cement that will act as a pipe. A mixture of water, over 750 chemicals, and an aggregate like sand is forced down the hole. This cracks the shale and releases the gas. Extensions to the original holes are made to control the pressure. When negative pressure is achieved a certain percentage of gas and fracking fluid is pushed through the pipe to the surface.
Whew and that is the simple explanation.
Here is the complex explanation and a list of what is left out:
- Tens of thousands of gallons of fresh water is needed for each well.
- Once the water is combined with the chemical slurry it cannot be uncombined.
- Water, waste, and parts must be delivered via diesel trucks equally millions of trips per year.
- Reservoir pits of fracking fluids are needed to hold the fluid until they are shipped of to be buried since it is not recyclable.
- The cement casing are triple layered and have a 5% failure rate after 2 years and 40% failure rate after 25 years.
- Fracking has been around in the U.S. since the 1970s and the recent boom started in 2008.
- For residential prices natural gas was lowest per thousand cubic feet in 1981 around $4/ft3 per and highest in 2008 at $16/ft3, currently in 2013 we are around $10/ft3 .
- The investment in fracking technology drove the prices high in 2008.
- We have not seen lower prices since the September 11, 2001 attacks despite the massive drilling across the country.
- These gas deposits are temporary and typical last 2-5 years.
- New York estimates 10,000 to 100,000 wells can be drilled.
Engineering groups, gas companies, and tech businesses have been for fracking since failure rate is low and in New York more monitors will be used. Also the potential of jobs and lower gas bill, even if temporary is a great thing.
The New Yorkers have really been split. Many people are against the chemicals being used and the lack of waste water treatment plans. Still some just need a financial break and have confidence that if breaks do occur they will be dealt with in a timely manner. Of course 99% of the people do not want a gas well near them which speaks volumes.
Governor Cuomo of Mt. Kisco has remained silent on this issue and his past record has shown close ties to the gas oil industry. I expect despite NYPIRG's efforts that he will not decide anything until mid-2014. Personally I am against fracking but not drilling. I know there are alternatives to hydraulic fracturing and forcing the gas industry to use it will help all New Yorkers. I would enjoy working for the gas company if this can done safely, yes I have applied for them in the past as well as for the groups opposing them. Science should halp both sides come to a rational solution.