Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Using sand for fracking: pros and cons

Disputes about pros and cons of fracking are still going on in the US, especially in Midwestern states. Although there are no fracking facilities in some Midwestern states, these states are now experiencing a big increase of the sand mining industry. The reason is that the process of fracking needs large amounts of sand.
The Christian Science Monitor describes the process as follows: “To extract the sand, mining companies scrape away the soil, break up the sandstone with explosives, and then crush it. The raw sand is washed, sorted by size, and shipped by truck, rail, and barge to fracking operations in the US and Canada. There the sand is mixed with water and chemicals and pumped underground, where the particles lodge in cracks and prop them open while gas or oil flows out.”

Oil and gas companies need the sand used in fracking operations to hold open cracks in shale rock. In Ohio, that rock is usually the Utica formation. In West Virginia and Pennsylvania, it’s the Marcellus shale.

Much of that sand is ripe for mining in upper Midwestern states such as Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and especially Wisconsin.

Sand has long been used in various branches of industry in these states, but it has never been taken in such large amounts until the fracking method started to be used for extracting oil in gas in this area four years ago.

Local residents have various opinions about that. Some are claiming that the industry is ruining the once-idyllic land.

“Since 2012, Wisconsin has found nearly two dozen sand-mining operations in violation of air and water pollution rules,” an article in the Christian Science Monitor says.

Voice of Russia,


1 comment:

  1. Fracking safety: report warns of 'significant unknowns'...

    Sparse public data on onshore oil and gas drilling makes full extent of failures in hydrocarbon wells unknown, experts say.

    The lack of publicly available data on the UK's onshore oil and gas drilling means there are significant "unknowns" about the safety of future fracking wells, according to a new study. The research also found that public data from the US showed that hundreds of recent shale gas wells in Pennsylvania have suffered failures that could cause water or air pollution.

    "The research confirms that well failure in hydrocarbon wells is an issue and that publicly available data in Europe on this seems to be sparse," said Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, and who led the team of academics who undertook the work. "In the UK, wells are monitored by well inspectors but there is no information in the public domain, so we don't really know the full extent of well failures. There were unknowns we couldn't get to the bottom of."

    The research analysed every reliable dataset on the 4m onshore hydrocarbon wells that have been drilled around the world since the industry began a century ago, in order to assess the implications for unconventional oil and gas exploitation, including shale gas. The study focused on well failures, in which the cement, steel casing or valves failed to contain the oil, gas and drilling fluids. It noted the difference between internal failures, where gas, oil or other chemicals did not leak into the wider environment and external failures, where leaks did enter rocks, water acquifers or the air.

    While a lot of well data is made public in the US, it was not detailed enough for the researchers to distinguish serious and minor well failures. "But in the UK we don't even have that," said Davies..................


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