The journalistic ignorance as to what's going on underground in wells astounds me. I've listened to 45 minutes of CBC radio talking about "the dangers of fracing" ([HTML_REMOVED]-- on a side note, please note that that is spelled with out a K. It's short for fracture. Figure it out people…) where the scared general populous phoned in talking about the wells that fractured themselves near their homes causing the earth to shake.
Here's whats actually happening (Grimace or others can feel free to correct me if I've made some mistakes):
A well is drilled, and casing, a liner, or both are run down the hole to provide a home for the production tubing and tools that will eventually be inserted into the well bore.
If the oil company wants to increase production from their target zone (they almost always do), they pump some sort of frac fluid or gas down hole at very high pressures against several stages to fracture set points in the formation. These are well controlled openings in the formation, and the distance of each fracture is precisely set.
This is happening between 2 and 4 km below the Earths surface. There is no danger to you or your aquifer. There is no danger of the earth falling in on itself.
Why is there no danger to your aquifer? It's simple. If the oil company opens a path between your aquifer and a source of natural gas or oil, they will experience losses in their production values. They don't like that, and would instead rather see every last bit of carbon fuels come up to the surface… why design a well to bleed off production?
and just in case you missed it above "Fracing" is short for Fracturing". There is no K. Spell it right.
You can have one large frac with out the valves downhole and the formation will crack at the weakest point. The type you're explaining is a multistage frac which works much better in the shale gas plays that have gained popularity in the last few years.
They also pump sand or another porous media into the hole to keep the fractures open.
The jury is out on this, there is evidence to suggest otherwise, though a definite link is not determined. Research is needed to confirm or deny a link. Does it make sense to just blindly go ahead and do this when there's some (even small) possibility of a link between fracking (it needs to be spelled that way to come out with the correct pronunciation) and groundwater contamination? Or is the cautious approach maybe a bit wiser … find out all the facts first, then proceed if safe? The O[HTML_REMOVED]G industry has a pretty poor track record when it comes to sweeping statements along the lines of "trust us, it's safe".
And I notice how you've conveniently omitted any reference to the massive amounts of water needed to perform a fracking (sic) operation, usually taken from local aquifers, contaminated all to shit, then stored in open ponds in the wilderness for local wildlife to enjoy, I mean get killed by.
Yes it uses a lot of water but the fracs I have been apart of the water is trucked out and dealt with according to environmental laws. In the US it might be different. I have only been apart of fracing jobs in Canada.
Oil companies like most large corporations abide by the rules in place. In the North Sea all formation cuttings are back loaded to shore and disposed of as mandated by the Norwegian gov't. In Australia they dump them overboard into the Indian Ocean because its not in the regulations to send them to shore. Put the rules in place and they will abide by them.