For more than 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has been an important technology in increasing recovery of our precious petroleum resources. The technology was first used in the Williston Basin in 2008 and it, along with horizontal drilling, helped unlock the Bakken and make it one of the largest proven reserves in the world.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” is a process by which a mixture of water, sand or ceramic proppant, and chemical additives are injected into wells to create fissures in the dense shale rock that trapped oil. The sand or proppant keep those fissures open, allowing oil and natural gas to flow freely. The chemical additives help thicken the fluid, prevent bacteria, and enable movement. This mixture is made up of 90 percent water, about 9-9.5 percent sand and between .5 and 1 percent of chemical additives.
These chemical additives consist of items used in many of our daily, household activities. Examples include:
North Dakota’s geology provides many natural barriers to protect water resources. The Bakken and Three Forks formations, which is where a majority of oil development in North Dakota is taking place, lies more than two miles below the Earth’s surface and more than 8,000 feet below the nearest aquifer. It is physically impossible for any of the water, chemicals or even oil resources to migrate up into water resources.
In addition to these natural protections and barriers, companies also take special precautions to protect water resources through multiple steel and cement casings, including conductor casing, surface casing, intermediate casing, production liner and production tubing. Per North Dakota regulations, companies are required to report within 60 days the additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process. That information is available to the public at www.FracFocus.org.