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Fracking - Data relevant to UK Hydraulic Fracturing June 2019

Tuesday, 11 June 2019 08:56

Extracting Shale Gas Extracting Shale Gas Graphic: © Shutterstock

We need much more information from both government and industry to understand what the potential impacts of fracking could be on the countryside and rural communities.

Shale gas or oil is trapped within impermeable shale rock, as opposed to conventional natural gas deposits such as those under the North Sea, which are trapped below impermeable rock. Therefore simply drilling down to it is not enough. The rock has to be fractured at high pressure or to get the gas or oil out.

Fracking involves drilling down to over 2km vertically, then laterally outwards for as much as 3km. The gap between the lining of the borehole that has been drilled and the surrounding rock is then sealed up with concrete. The well casing is perforated to allow fracking fluid to get into the rock, and gas to get out. Then, on a typical well, up to ten million litres of water containing sand, lubricating fluids and other additives are pumped into the borehole under extremely high pressures. This opens up cracks in the shale for up to 50 metres. The cracks are kept open by the sand particles when the pressure is released, so the shale gas can escape. A well head is then installed to capture the released gas. The drilling and fracking equipment is then taken.

The UK shale gas industry remains in an embryonic state and has yet to successfully construct and operate a test production well. This requires a well to be drilled, hydraulically fractured and gas to be extracted from it for six months in essentially one continuous operation. The results obtained provide essential information concerning both scale-up and the impacts of scale-up. The report produced by David Peacock (see below for link) and updated on 28th June is focussed on the numbers of heavy goods vehicle trips required for removal of waste from well sites and the delivery of water and sand to well sites. These are expected to cause the greatest negative impacts of fracking on the communities within and surrounding the area where well sites are located.

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