The use and application of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been around for decades. However, until the production boom centering around the Bakken Formation in North Dakota began hitting news headlines, the general public had never heard of fracking. Hydraulic fracturing, when used in combination with horizontal drilling technology, provides America the opportunity to tap into the vast oil and gas deposits within our own country and not have to rely as heavily on foreign oil.
What is Fracking?
In simplest terms, fracking causes micro-fractures in the rock thousands of feet below the surface. A mixture of sand and water is forced into those cracks and widens the cracks enough to allow the oil and gas that is trapped in the rock formations into the pipes where it can then be brought to the surface.
Benefits of Fracking
A study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 21st Century Energy Institute estimates that 1.7 million jobs have already been created because of fracking. They expect that number to increase to 3.5 million by 2035. This includes jobs directly connected to fracking, such as those working on the wells themselves, and jobs indirectly connected, such as contractors creating gravel roads. These are large numbers and most of the jobs provide a family wage income. The creation of jobs is essential for America’s economic output.
Fracking in the U.S. has been primarily for natural gas production. America is now the top producer of natural gas in the world. In 2016, for the first time in 60 years, our natural gas exports exceeded our imports. It is projected that U.S. natural gas production will increase by around 50% over the next 20 years.
The cost of natural gas to the American consumer has been steadily decreasing for the last decade. This saves money on utility bills, but more importantly, it lowers our dependence on electricity to heat our homes and to cook our food. Natural gas is known as a “clean energy.” While not as green as renewable energy solutions, natural gas emits 50% less carbon dioxide than coal.
- Foreign Relations
As the energy revolution in America continues, our demand for foreign imports lessens. This is safer for American oil and gas companies who no longer need to operate in high conflict areas. It is also good for the American trade deficit. Foreign organizations such as OPEC will have less and less sway over our international decisions.