Hydraulic fracturing is one of the many steps in the process of drilling and completing most onshore oil and natural gas wells. This well-stimulation method has been used by the industry since 1947. Currently, more than 90% of all crude oil and natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. employ hydraulic fracturing. Although the injection process for each well typically lasts only two to three days, the well may produce for 20 years or more.
Commonly known as “fracking,” the stimulation process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and a small amount of chemical additives at high pressure into rock formations many thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. The mixture travels inside cement-lined steel casing until it reaches the targeted hydrocarbon-bearing formations, where it creates small fractures that provide a path for trapped oil and natural gas to flow into the wellbore. Hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to recover previously inaccessible oil and natural gas. It extends the life of existing wells and increases the productivity of new wells. This has the effect of reducing the overall number of wells drilled to produce oil and gas. Hydraulic fracturing is often combined with horizontal drilling techniques that enable greater reach within an oil- and/or natural gas-bearing formation from a single well site.
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