Hydraulic fracturing or Fracking techniques, advantages and disadvantages

by scotte8_1 on October 26, 2014 - 4:04pm

In this summary we are going to explain in concise the process of fracking techniques; its advantages for the economy and energy industry as well as the impact in the population health and the environment.

The article featured in the Daily Mail, the headline reads “Living near a fracking site DOUBLES the risk of developing lung and skin conditions, claims study”. The article is based on a study by Yale University stating that people who living near fracking sites are more at risk to diseases. Hydraulic fracturing known as fracking is a process where a chemical water mixture is pumped at higher pressure into the rock allowing gas to be released. This new process is highly controversial because of its use in the US linking it to diseases, small earth tremors and contamination of the water supply.

The technique has revolutionised gas extracting making it far easier and cheaper to extract. Hardest gas deposits, for Britain fracking vitally could secure the energy future just like it has in the US. Fracking has always been used with offshore gas extraction, although the reason for the protests is because it is proposed use onshore. Licences have been approved throughout Britain despite protests from environmentalists and evidence suggesting its harmful effects like cancer and respiratory diseases mentioned in the Daily Mail article.

Fracking was first used in Britain in Lancashire and more sites have been authorised by the EU and the government. Along with its controversies fracking has its advantages. It is very important to the country’s energy future using US and Canada as a model fracking onshore has secured their energy future for many years to come. With dwindling fossil fuel reserves left in the world fracking will be much more important in future because old techniques will become less common as gas accumulations will become harder to extract and future generations of workers in the oil and gas industry will likely use fracking. This aim is relevant for our degree as students in Oil, Gas and Energy management.

Beside, the dangers to the environment and to the population show that alternate sources of energy should be found like renewable, as they pose little threat to the environment or to people unlike fracking which has been linked to small earth tremors felt in Blackpool after fracking had taken place. A BBC news online article discusses fracking and its controversies it quotes with Professor Ernie Rutter from the University of Manchester questioning the tremors caused by fracking stating “It's always recognised as a potential hazard of the technique. But they are unlikely to be felt by many people and very unlikely to cause any damage.” There are alternate energy sources to fracking much cleaner and safer like solar and wind power. The UK government has invested a lot of money into renewable energy sources such as wind power. There are 4,570 on shore wind farms in Britain with the capacity of 7,534 (MW), however the country cannot be dependent on wind power as it doesn’t produce enough electricity. This problem also relates to our degree because the technology used could be improved in the future to make wind turbines more efficient to produce more electricity, replacing fossil fuels reducing carbon emissions significantly and slowing the process of climate change.

As the future managers of oil, gas and energy sector we think that increased use of fracking in Britain would lead to huge improvements and the risks posed in America wouldn’t apply here as the standard of safety would be much better and fracking would be closely regulated in comparison to America. Nevertheless, Britain would face other problems; the land mass is far smaller than America meaning the fracking sites would have to be close to residential areas posing a health risk to people in a close radiance. Other problems stem from this lack of space meaning not just fracking sites but wind farms as well will have to be put in rural areas like national parks spoiling the natural beauty of the place. Fracking will in some way alleviant the problems the dwindling fossil fuel reserves but at a cost to the people and the environment, only extensive research into improving this technique will see it improved.

Following the discussion we had with our US counterpart about fracking techniques, they explain “there are a massive advantage of this process related to the economy impact and the energy supply. However, they feel that strict regulations and policies are needed in US, especially in terms of places where the field are located and the transport of chemicals used in the fracking process. They also suggested that creating improved protection on chemical spills to reduce the amount of contaminated water that families are using to drink, shower, clean with etc, can help reducing the high level of contamination that can lead to some types of cancer, respiratory  and skin conditions. The solution can be put the wells in areas that are at least 2 miles away from localities reducing the amount of sickness and protect many people’s lives.”




A good start.
What evidence do you have for a greater level of control/regulation in the UK vs the US?

regulations differ between the two in the UK these regulations are laid down by the government whereas in the US the State lays down the regulation but mostly are the same for example both must apply for licenses and permits, make sure there is no pollution either to the environment or the drinking water ('the safe drinking water act' in the US). controversially both governments let the companies use any chemicals they want

evidence for this in the US is the Illinois governor signing the country's strictest fracking regulations

This is really going to help you for the next task which is a more in depth look at fracking!

About the author

I am 18 years old and from Hartlepool in the north east of England. I am studying oil, gas and energy management at Coventry University. At home I played rugby for my local team and ran track regularly, sports are my main interests.