How does the fracking process work?


Quick Answer

The fracking process starts with drilling a well into the deep layer of rock in which natural gas or oil exists. Fracking fluid is then pumped into the well at a high pressure, which fractures the rock and creates fissures and cracks through which oil and gas can flow.

Continue Reading

Full Answer

Hydraulic fracking fluid, called slickwater, contains between 98 and 99.5 percent water. The remainder of slickwater is made up of chemical additives, such as lubricants, disinfectants and detergents. The additives also contain proppants, which are small, incompressible particles such as sand and ceramic pellets. The proppants help hold open the newly formed fractures in the rock. After the well has been drilled and the fracking fluid pumped in, the internal pressure of the rock causes trapped reservoirs of gas and oil to be pushed to the surface.

In addition to gas and oil, millions of gallons of a fluid called flowback liquid is also pushed to the surface. Flowback liquid contains the injected fracking fluid as well as brines, metals, radioactive material, hydrocarbons and other toxins. The flowback liquid is stored on the fracking site in pits or tanks before being treated, recycled or disposed. Treating flowback water is expensive and beyond what most local treatment plants can handle. As a result, much of the flowback water is injected underground for disposal.

Learn more about Industries

Related Questions