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Hydraulic fracturing also referred to as ‘fracking’ is a method usually used to stimulate flow of fluid from the crustal rocks to the surface. This process is a modern technique involving pumping of fluid that is rich in water and other chemicals into a deeply dug borehole to an extent that the high pressure of the fluid fractures the rocks containing the required substance. The fluid pumped usually contains in it fine particles referred to as prop pant whose purpose is to create the fissures in rocks. After the whole process of fracking the pressure is released out of the well and the fluid that contains natural gas flows out of the borehole onto the surface. The boreholes are in normal circumstances shifted away from the vertical to horizontal alignment to enable a relatively efficient exploration of the shale reservoirs of the gas being targeted. The fluid that is being used for fracking has small proportions of chemical elements such as acids to aid in initiation of fractures, inhibitors and corrosion and to a greater extent protect the lining of the borehole and also serve as agents to change the fluid viscosity to ease flow (Sangaramoorthy 27-37).
Hydraulic fracturing technology dates back to early 1940s and was further researched in1970s by Unites States of America’s department of energy (Feyrer and Mansur 31-34).
It was recognized henceforth as a milestone in the oil and gas mining industries globally. Before then, oil and gas mining industries could extract attract useful resources lying beneath and above the layers of the shale and left behind the hydrocarbon compounds inside the shale and therefore remained untapped for use.
How Fracking works
In hydraulic fracturing, fractures are created by pumping huge volumes of fluid mixed with small particles of sand through a wellbore into the crustal rock. Fracking a well that is as long as 2 kilometers horizontally requires water which may amount to 20 million liters and about 200,000 liters of chemicals including hydrochloric acid used to clean the fractures during the process, sodium chlorides compounds usually to serve in slowing down the melting of polymers, polyacrylamide to aid in minimizing friction and ethyl glycol to reduce deposits of other compounds in the pipes. After drilling and fracturing process, about 80% of fluid used flows out to the surface for a number of days while some others flows for a longer time. This process is referred to as flow back and resultant water flowing with it to the surface is ordinarily known as produced water. They contain in them heavy metals and other compounds known to emit high frequency radiations. These resultant products are temporarily stored in separate pits for further treatment, reuse or disposal (Gregor and Mathias 703-712).