Fracking is the main reason as to why America is having an energy revolution. Engineers and Scientists have worked hand in hand to produce safe hydraulic fracturing practices which have minimum impact on the environment. The US is now able to tap a vast amount of oil and natural gas reserves which were once considered difficult to reach (shale locked reserves and tight rock formations), hence were deemed not economically viable. The process has also been used in stimulating production from older depleting wells. Some sources claim that >95% of natural gas wells to be drilled in the future will be done through hydraulic fracturing. In the UK, this is being considered amidst opposition from environmental pressure groups.
In the US, the IEA predicts that Americas total gas production will increase by 56% by the year 2040, with majority of the gas coming from shale gas.
Fracking in the UK is only at exploratory phase despite shale gas reserves having been identified. Although over 100 licences have been given for exploration activities, firms also must receive planning permission from the relevant local authorities if they are to begin fracking. Fracking sites in the UK include Lancanshire, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
Some environmental pressure groups and governments fear that tremors induced by fracking can result in structural damages above ground. Some have even highlighted poisoning of underground water sources by the chemicals/additives injected during the fracking process. There are also claims that fracking utilises huge amounts of water, at a significant environmental cost. Furthermore, it is feared that carcinogenic chemicals used in the process could escape into groundwater sources around the fracking site and contaminate them.
Supporters of renewable energy sources state that this is an unwelcome distraction as energy firms and finances continue investing into fossil fuels hence encouraging the continued reliance on fossil fuels.
However despite all this, fracking has proved to have its own advantages. For example, the increased oil production observed in the US has driven down gas prices. Not only are low pump prices being enjoyed in the US, but also globally. It is estimated to have offered gas security to the US and Canada for about 100 years. As for the UK, fracking could contribute enormously to UK’s future energy needs given the maturity of its oil and gas reserves in the North Sea.
In conclusion, fracking will be the engine in the world’s future energy revolution.