Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal drilling, has led to Montana's explosion in oil and natural gas development in the Bakken Shale.  These technologies have allowed engineers to extract billions of barrels oil and billions of cubic feet of natural gas that were trapped thousands of feet beneath the surface, and will continue to do so for years.

Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technology and has been used since the 1940s in more than one million wells in the United States to help produce oil and natural gas.   It is an advanced, effective technique whereby “fracturing fluids”, comprised of more than 99.5 percent water and sand, and less than 0.5 percent chemicals, are injected under high pressure into a shale formation, creating fissures that free the natural gas to flow from rock pores where it is trapped. To learn more about hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, watch the video below.  In just a few minutes, you will gain an understanding of the critical steps taken before hydraulic fracturing even begins; the safety measures used to protect the

Nearly 80 percent of tight shale oil and natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing because it allows access to formations, like shale oil and shale gas, available now as a result of technological advances. Montanans, however, have the benefit of gaining from the experience of an industry that has used this technology in nearly one million wells for more than 60 years. The combined expertise of thousands of workers in this field has developed comprehensive standards, procedures and regulations to protect citizens and the environment.

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

Hydraulic fracturing fluids are comprised of a combination of water, sand and chemicals that are injected at high pressure into a well to initiate and to expand fractures in the shale rock.  Water makes up approximately 90% and sand approximately 9.5% of the fluid; and chemicals the remaining .5% of the mixture.  The chemicals are used for various purposes, such as increasing the viscosity of the fluid; minimizing corrosion, or “propping” open fractures created by the fracturing process.

A list of the chemicals typically used in the fracturing fluid is available at EnergyInDepth.org, although the specific types and composition used varies based upon the state and the geology of the rock formation.

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