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Just the fracks, ma’am

Posted by Richard on January 23, 2012

Casey Research has published an excellent essay by Marin Katusa that explains the technology behind hydraulic fracturing (AKA fracking), its benefits, and its drawbacks (and how they’re being addressed). Katusa debunks many of the claims made in the “frac-bashing” documentary, Gasland, including the nonsense about all the “deadly chemicals” in frac fluids:

Allowing for variance among companies and operations, fracking fluid is typically a bit under 91% water and 9% sand. Tiny amounts of added chemicals reduce friction, fight microbes, control pH, and prevent corrosion of equipment. Many are found around the house, including guar gum (in ice cream), borate salts (a fungicide), and mineral oil. And yes, there are 596 ingredients that have at some point been used to make frac fluids, but any single fracturing job uses only a few of the available options.

Even the 0.44% of added chemicals in typical frac fluid is about to become a non-issue:

Another way to ease the problem of frac fluids spills or leaks is to make frac fluids so benign that we could literally drink them. It sounds pie-in-the-sky, but the world’s second-largest oilfield services company is working hard on the idea. In fact, Halliburton (NYSE.HAL) has created a frac fluid called CleanStim, made from materials sourced from the food industry. A Halliburton executive showed the stuff at a recent conference – and then tossed it down his gullet.

Read the whole thing to learn much more about fracking — including how it may just prevent big earthquakes.

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