hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling
Hydraulic fracturing is not new. It has been used safely and effectively for more than 60 years. During that time, more than one million wells have been completed using hydraulic fracturing.
What is new, however, is the use of multiple technologies in conjunction with one another to make unconventional gas more economically viable. In recent years, a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has enabled the energy industry to economically access and produce this gas.
In hydraulic fracturing, a solution – primarily water and sand, mixed with a small amount of chemicals – is injected into the rock to open very thin cracks, allowing trapped natural gas to migrate up to the well.
In horizontal drilling, instead of needing multiple well sites to drill vertically into natural gas zones, less land use at the surface as several wellheads can be located on a single well site.
These technologies have been in use for decades, but by combining them, the United States has seen a turnaround in domestic gas production. Now, operators can safely produce affordable, reliable quantities of natural gas from previously untapped resources.
Learn more about the basic phases of natural gas production.