What the frack is going on?

I love this video. I love it because it is so well made, full of polemic, and yet so reasonable!

I have commented before about ‘fracking’ the energy solution advocated by the Global Warming Policy Foundation. The technique has the potential to yield considerable supplies of gas, with the only minor side effects being widespread earthquakes and groundwater pollution. You can find commentary, the lyrics, and links here.

Enjoy 🙂

UPDATE: The Scientific American have recently published an article call The Truth about Fracking (Subscription required) and reading it I began to understand how views about the technology have become so polarised.

The technology is pretty well explained in the video above, but the word ‘Fracking’ means different things to different people. The technology is quite old (1940s) but was previously used in single vertical wells with each well being injected with a few hundred cubic metres of fracking fluid. However when the wells are drilled horizontally, the fracking zone increase dramatically in size and the wells typically require 7500 to 15000 cubic metres of fracking fluid. When the rock is fracked, typically 25% or more of the water is ‘lost’ and 75% is blown back out of the well and must be stored. Both the lost water, the ‘blow back’ and the methane present hazards if they leak out of the well and fracking zone by an unidentified means

All that fluid should go deep below the aquifers, but there is obviously the possibility of fracking fluid or the released methane going astray. This is particularly so in areas where there may be other bore holes, where the ground is repeatedly fracked. And if the upper parts of the borehole have not been concreted correctly, there is an obvious risk to ground water.

I got the impression that it was inevitable that a significant proportion of fracking operations would cause pollution – and that is well documented (here ). This is a technology which could benefit the US and us – burning gas is less bad than burning coal – but it is clearly a technology with the potential to do harm and needs regulation: The editors of Scientific American call for a safety first approach. Sounds reasonable to me.

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