How does fracking work? – Mia Nacamulli


Deep underground lies stores of once
inaccessible natural gas. This gas was likely formed
over millions of years as layers of decaying organisms
were exposed to intense heat and pressure under the Earth’s crust. There’s a technology called
hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that can extract this natural gas, potentially powering us
for decades to come. So how does fracking work, and why it is a source
of such heated controversy? A fracking site can be anywhere
with natural gas, from a remote desert to several hundred feet
from your backyard. It starts out with a long vertical hole
known as a wellbore drilled down through layers of sediment. When the well reaches 2500 – 3000 meters,
it’s at its kickoff point where it can begin the process
of horizontal drilling. It turns 90 degrees and extends
horizontally for about 1.5 kilometers through a compressed black layer
called the shale rock formation. A specialized perforating gun
is then lowered and fired, creating a series of small,
inch-long holes that burst through the well’s casing
into the rock layer. About three to four months
after the initial drilling, the well is ready for fracking to begin. Fracking fluid is pumped down
into the well at a pressure so high, it cracks the shale rock, creating fractures through which
the trapped gas and oil can escape. The fluid itself is more than 90% water. The rest is made up of concentrated
chemical additives. These vary depending on the specific
characteristics of the fracking site, but usually fall into three categories: acids for clearing debris
and dissolving minerals, friction-reducing compounds to create a slippery form of water
known as slickwater, and disinfectant to prevent
bacteria growth. Sand or clay is also mixed into
the water to prop open the fissures so the gas and oil can keep leaking out,
even after the pressure is released. It’s estimated that all of fracking’s
intense pumping and flushing uses an average of 3-6 million gallons
of water per well. That’s actually not a lot compared
to agriculture, power plants, or even golf course maintenance, but it can have a notable impact
on local water supply. And disposing of used fracking water
is also an issue. Along with the trapped gas
that’s pumped up to the surface, millions of gallons of flow-back liquid
come gushing up. This liquid containing contaminants
like radioactive material, salts, heavy metals, and hydrocarbons, needs to be stored and disposed of. That’s usually done in pits on-site
in deep wells or off-site at water treatment facilities. Another option is to recycle
the flow-back liquid, but the recycling process can actually
increase levels of contamination since the water is more toxic
with each use. Wells are typically encased
in steel and cement to prevent contaminants from leaking
into groundwater. But any negligence
or fracking-related accidents can have devastating effects. Fracturing directly
into underground water hazardous underground
seepage and leakage, and inadequate treatment and disposal
of highly-toxic waste water can potentially contaminate
drinking water around a fracking site. There’s also concern about
the threat of earthquakes and damaged infrastructure from pressure
and waste water injection. Links between fracking
and increased seismic activity leave unresolved questions
about long-term pressure imbalances that might be happening
deep beneath our feet. Fracking’s biggest controversy, though,
is happening above the ground. The general consensus is that burning
natural gas is better for the environment than burning coal since the gas collected from fracking emits only half
the carbon dioxide as coal per unit of energy. The pollution caused
by the fracking itself, though, isn’t negligible. Methane that leaks out during the drilling
and pumping process is many times more potent
than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Some scientists argue that methane
eventually dissipates, so has a relatively low long-term impact. But a greater question hangs in the air. Does fracking take time,
money, and research away from the development
of cleaner renewable energy sources? Natural gas is non-renewable, and the short-run economic interests
supporting fracking may fall short in the face
of global climate change. Experts are still examining
fracking’s overarching effects. Although modern fracking has been
around since the 1940s, it’s boomed in the last few decades. As other sources of natural gas decrease,
the costs of non-renewable energies rise, and cutting-edge technologies
make it so accessible. But many countries and regions
have already banned fracking in response to environmental concerns. It’s undeniable that fracking has reshaped
the energy landscape around the world, but for what long-term benefit
and at what cost?

100 thoughts on “How does fracking work? – Mia Nacamulli”

  1. This video does a good job of explaining the primary issues that people have, and doesn't make any claims as to whether they are correct or incorrect. So it's quite unbiased. However, the concern that fracking is bad because it takes away from our pursuit of renewables gives the false impression that it's fracking vs. renewables. I agree that a cheaper source of fossil fuels will decrease our motivation to innovate. Now that we have recognized this, it makes more sense to put pressure on government to utilize tax revenue to invest in renewables, than it does to put pressure on the government to stop fracking. We want to innovate. We need money to innovate. So let's use the social power to use money from fracking. If fracking is shut down entirely (for the purpose of re-directing our time and resources), you just have people out of jobs, and no new "renewables" jobs to replace them.

  2. No wonder why Oklahoma has many earthquakes, they been cracking bed rock and certain water wells are contaminated…

  3. the video was great and surprisingly unbiased but I do have to gripe about the: "does fracking take time, money and research away from cleaner power solutions" question. That's not how the free market works, it's not a spotlight that some supreme being gets to shine in one direction for the greater good. Good luck convincing the populace (of America) that they should forego the less green power options to give the green start ups time to get to scale in relation to the demand. Fair enough people can market green energy and people will move towards it as it becomes economical but when you talk about people in a particular industry advancing that industry as if it's some kind of waste of their talent or time morally speaking give me a break. That's juvenile
    "does restless leg syndrome medication research take time and money away from cancer research? they're both medicine people right? just figure it out nerds"

  4. I'm very pleased to see that Ted Ed acknowledges and states, though briefly, that fracking doesn't use nearly as much water as other human activities, ESPECIALLY animal agriculture.

  5. As a proponent of fracking. I was surprised to find this video so evenhanded. The water issue is overblown, however, probably for being outdated. The fracking industry can change so quickly, information six months old can be irrelevant.

  6. Yea, No that is not how frac works. And No that is not how reuse is done….. credentials 2+ years frac 6mo frac water treatment plant

  7. OMG…….. They're actually asserting that methane is so terrible if a small amount leaks out during drilling?

    Biological decomposition, like the leaf litter and dead twigs in a forest, create MANY orders of magnitude MORE methane than all the wells combined. The amount that leaks out during drilling is so god damned negligible when we're talking about climate change, that it's borderline dishonest to portray it as any sort of threat. What a bunch of agenda-driven fear-mongering nonsense.

  8. its also the reason oil rich (mostly autocratic) countries cannot dictate the price of oil. Which is probably the reason you safe A LOT of money every day.

  9. Ukraine consumed 60 billion cubic metres natural gas 10 years ago while is consuming only 20 billion now and only almost 10 billion cubic metres natural gas are being extracted in Ukraine. So there is still a big gap between 60 billion cubic metres of natural gas Ukraine consumed 10 years ago and 10 billion cubic metres of natural gas Ukraine is extrecting now.

  10. I think renewable energies like wind and solar are not practical in the long run. the most effective thing people can do is drive smaller cars and not live in suburbs.

  11. The video is awesome ! I would like to contribute by adding a fact that 'Torpedoes' were used earlier in oil wells to increase the well flow laying the roots of "Fracturing" https://oges.info/library/141575/DID-YOU-KNOW_-Torpedoes-were-used-earlier-in-oil

  12. The World is running out of clean fresh water. Surface fresh water (rivers Lakes dams ) are being polluted by various activities.Now they are polluting the under ground reserves. Best way to kill of life on this planet.

  13. I have never seen a more biased and negative video on YT.
    All this chap did and was sponsored by Ted Ed was to highlight the 'possible' dangerous side effects.
    He completely ignored the advantages of the new found source of energy.
    And BTW, if this is bad, how come so many countries are allowing this?
    I thought Ted Ed was a non-biased knowledge spreading org.
    Sadly this proves that I was mistaken.
    Beware of misleading propaganda from so called reputable people!

  14. It’s clear that every single person commenting about negative environmental impacts knows nothing about the process. Please leave policy up to people that actually understand oil and gas development. The process of far less impactful than the media would have you believe. And those of us that work in the industry strive to ensure that it stays clean. Please try and do some unbiased research, I believe it would change many people’s opinions.

  15. Fracking can extract oil too. The main advantage that came with the fracking technique is that the horizontal drilling makes it far more productive and helps mitigate the costs of drilling a dry well (it happens. Used to be 1 in 10 exploratory wells drilled struck oil, while only 1 in 1000 were economically viable). That's why it boomed in the US not long ago, causing Saudi Arabia to drop their oil prices to compete and resulting in the cheapest gas prices since 2000.

    But I have a question:
    Is the gas/oil trapped in bubbles or dissolved in the rocky matrix?

  16. Fracking keeps our children warm. Once you’re sleeping with your boots on, you’ll regret voting to ban it in a heartbeat.

  17. Bruh we accidentally fracked when we sent down a packer (well plug) and the wireline people sent a frac gun by accident (perforation explosives) they popped it and were just trying to put pressure in the well and it wouldn’t hold. We leeched into the water table by accident and no one knows it 😆 I think we were pumping bromide

  18. U.S.A National Aquaduct construction from Gulf of Mexico to Pacific to Atlantic, possibly to Great Lakes also: harvesting sea minerals, hemp/corn (ethanol)/food crop irrigation, drinking water production, and…ENERGY creation using hydroelectric, wind, hydrogen, and solar methods. Natural gas/coal would be used as backup resource for critical systems. Oil could be phased out and used less and less as those profits are transitioned to newer energy technologies. With this plan everyone wins (profitable for all players) and we get to re-vegetate the landscapes to reduce atmospheric pollution through natural processes. Poorer nations and regions could be assisted by the richer nations to be lifted up and more independent from fossil fuels and coal/wood, used as backup resources. Dangerous nuclear devices would be destroyed more easily as communities are given better stability, lessoning the options and attraction to be violent.

    Write your government officials, use social media, and request investment in these opportunities now.

  19. To be fair, I think you need to take into account the fact that because of the horizontal drilling, we don't have to build tons of wells which means less of an environmental impact and it is also more economical.

  20. Don't know if I'm for fracking, we can create so much energy from sun, wind, water, why hurt the earth any more than we have to.!

  21. I am by no means a fracking expert, unless we're talking about stubbing my toe. On the other hand I believe this is a good guide to fracking understanding.

  22. all I know is it gave me a $300,000+ yearly or about $6,500 every Friday mostly tax free salary with no education and a criminal record while my friends with degrees work at starbucks, and are going to be in debit for half their life for a worthless 4+ years of life

  23. These problems can be solved. We have to build technology but it can be done. We can make hydrogen gas as

    a fuel that burns completely clean. We can make hydrogen with salt water and electrolysis. We can store the

    hydrogen to provide power on cloudy days. We can make hydrogen anywhere there is salt water and sunlight so

    we can reduce the size of our electrical power grids. We can replace the copper wire with graphene wire.

    There are other power storage solutions. Salt batteries and solid state batteries and flywheels, which is like what

    he was talking about at the end there. Fracking produces waste water which will contaminate communities

    also, it is highly unlikely that oil companies won't destroy the land and water with their pipes and drilling. The abandoned well heads will leak methane and we would need to retool America's automobiles to burn LPG so

    why not make EVs and fuel cell cars instead. We don't need fracking, oil companies need fracking and they don't

    care about you!

  24. 341 fracking plant in Tamil Nadu, India, and all over India is established. Very soon a new Somalia is awaiting.

  25. This video is in our final exam studies… Students from our school would probably memorize the whole script… I guess I have to, too…

  26. Clean power extraction like solar cells is not enough for the world, so the world should use LESS power, not wrecking this planet further.

  27. Fracking fluid is about 90% water, 9.5% sand, and .5% chemicals, this video was a bit deceptive when it came to the makeup of the fluid.

  28. If they arent pumping contaminants into the wells to extract the gas or oil then how do you come up with dangerous contaminates as a by product?

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