sábado, 8 de junio de 2013


By Hugo M. G. von Österreich und von Toskana
Member of the Union of Concerned Scientists (USA)
June 8, 2013

Source: Los Angeles Times.

Hydraulic fracturing (Fig. 1) has been around for some time. This technology was developed in the 1940s and is used to produce spaces in the rock pores deep underground to release natural gas and oil so they can be tapped to the surface.

Figure 1. Hydraulic fracturing. Source: American Petroleum Institute.

Franco et al. (2013) describe a fracking operation as follows (Video 1):

"A typical unconventional gas frac involves drilling down three to six kilometres into the earth, beneath underground fresh water sources. When the shale or coal bed geological formations are reached, the drilling then proceeds horizontally for up to two kilometres in order to capture more gas. This horizontal borehole is filled with small packages of ball-bearing-like shrapnel and light explosives. The packages are detonated, and the shrapnel pierces the borehole opening up small perforations in the rock. A series of fractures, between 10 to 20, are created at set intervals about every 100 meters along the horizontal borehole. Furthermore, each drilling site, or pad, can host several horizontal wells – known as multi-well pads."

                                             Video 1. Hydraulic fracturing 3D animation.

To achieve the fracking, a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives (Fig. 2, Table 1), the fracturing or pumping fluids, are injected under high pressure into the shale or fuel formation layer underground to produce fissures or fractures in the rock which will allow the gas or oil to flow freely to the surface.

Figure 2. Typical shale fracturing and chemical additives used in fracturing water. Source: American Petroleum Institute.

Table 1. Chemicals Used in the Hydraulic Fracturing Process in Pennsylvania (USA). Source: Marcellus Drlling News.
Chemical Product Name
2,2-Dibromo-3-Nitrilopropionamide Bio Clear 1000/Bio Clear 2000/ Bio-Clear 200/BioRid20L/ EC6116A
2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one X-Cide 207
5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one X-Cide 207
Acetic Acid Fe-1A Acidizing Composition/ Packer Inhibitor
Acetic Anhydride Fe-1A Acidizing Composition
Acetylene GT&S Inc./ Airco
Alcohol Ethoxylated C12-16 NE-200
Alkyl benzene sulfonic acid Tetrolite AW0007/ FR-46
Ammonia (aqueous) FAW-5
Ammonium Bifluoride ABF 37%
Ammonium Persulfate AP Break
Ammonium Bisulfite Techni-Hib 604/ Fe OXCLEAR/ Packer Inhibitor
Ammonium chloride Salt Inhibitor
Ammonium Salt (alkylpolyether sulfate) Tetrolite AW0007
Amorphous silica TerraProp Plus/ Bituminous Coal Fly Ash ASTM C618
Benzoic Acid Benzoic Acid
Boric Acid BC-140/ Unilink 8.5
Boric Oxide XLW-32
Calcium Chloride Dowflake
Calcium Oxide Bituminous Coal Fly Ash ASTM C618
carboxymethylhydroxypropyl guar blend Unigel CMPHG
Choline Chloride Clay Treat-2C
Cinnamaldehyde ENVIROHIB 2001
Citric Acid Ferrotrol 300L/ IC-100L
Complex polyamine salt Clay Master-5C
Crystalline Silica: Cristobalite
Crystalline Silica: Quartz Silica Sand/ / Atlas PRC/ Best Sand/ Bituminous Coal Fly Ash ASTM C618
Cupric chloride dihydrate Ferrotrol 280L
Cured resin LiteProp 125
Cyclohexanes CS-2
Dazomet ICI-3240
Diethylene Glycol Scaletrol 720/ Scaletrol 7208
Enzyme GBL-8X
EO-C7-9-iso-, C8 rich-alcohols NE-940/ NE-90
EO-C9-11-iso-, C10-rich alcohols NE-940/ NE-90
Ethoxylated Alcohol FRW-14/ SAS-2/ Flomax 50/ WFR-3B
Ethyl Acetate Castle Thrust
Ethyl Alcohol FAW-5/ Castle Shop Solv/ Dallas Morris
Ethylbenzene NDL-100/ PARANOX/ Uniflo II
Ethylbenzene NDL-100/ PARANOX/ Uniflo II
Ethylene Glycol ENVIROHIB 2001/ ICA-2/ LEB 10X/ Scaletrol
720/ Sceletrol 7208/ CC 300/ Clachek A/ Clachek
LP/ Ironsta II B/ NCL-100/ BC 140/ NCL-100/
Flomax 50/ NCL/ Scalehib 100/ Unihib O/ Unilink 8.5
Formic Acid ENVIROHIB 2001
Gluconic Acid Interstate ICA-2
Glutaraldehyde Alpha 114/Alpha 125/ ICI-150
Glycerol Bio Sealers
Glycol Ethers ENVIROHIB 2001/AMPHOAM 75/ PARANOX/ Uniflo II/ Unifoam/ WNE-342LN
Guar Gum PROGUM 19 GUAR PRODUCT/ Unigel 19XL/ Benchmark Polymer 3400/ WGA-15/ Unigel 5F
Hydrochloric Acid Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)/ TETRAClean 542/ Muriatic Acid
Hydrochloric Acid 3% – 35% Hydrochloric Acid 3% – 35%
Isopropanol AFS 30 Blend/ FAC-1W/ FAC-3W/ MA-844W/ NE-23/ NE-940/ Flomax 50/ Tetrolite AW0007/
FMW25 Foamer/ CS-2
Isopropyl Alcohol NFS-102/ WFT-9511/ LT-32/ AR-1/ Flomax 50/ NDL-100/ Unibac/ Uniflo II/ Uniflo/ Unihib O/
AFS 30 Blend/ NE-200/ Activator Superset-W/ CI-14/ FAW-5/ GasFlo/ Inflo-250W/ LT-32/ NE-940/
XLW-32/ Tetrolite AW0007/ FMW25 Foamer/ 40 HTL Corrosion Inhibitor/ NE 100/ HAI-OS Acid
Inhibitor/ Unibac/ NE-90/ Packer Inhibitor
Methyl Alcohol Clearbreak 400/ Super Surf/ Castle Shop Solv
Methyl Salicylate Bio Sealers
n-butanol AirFoam 311
Nitrilotriacetamide Salt Inhibitor
Phenolic Resin Atlas PRC
Polyethylene Glycol NE-940/ EC6116A/ NE-90
Polyethylene Glycol Mixture Bio Clear 2000/ Bio-Clear 200
Polyoxylalkylene sulfate FMW25 Foamer
Polysaccharide Blend GW-3LDF
Potassium Carbonate BF-7L
Potassium Chloride Dowflake
Potassium Hydroxide B-9, pH Increase Buffer/ BXL-2
Propargyl Alcohol CI-14/ HAI-OS Acid Inhibitor
Propylene Glycol SAS-2/ WFR-3B
Silica S-8C, Sand, 100 mesh/ Montmorillnonite clay
Sodium Bicarbonate K-34
Sodium Bromide BioRid 20L
Sodium Hydroxide Caustic Soda/ ICI-3240/ BioRid B-71
Sodium Persulphate High Perm SW-LB
Sodium Xylene Sulfonate FAC-2/ FAC-3W
Sulfuric Acid Sulfuric Acid
Surfactants AFS-30/ GasFlo/ Inflo-250W
Talc Adomite Aqua
Tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)phosphonium sulfate Magnacide 575 Microbiocide
Tetramethyl ammonium Chloride Clay Treat-3C
Trimethyloctadecylammonium chloride FAC-1W/ FAC-3W

Right away we can see that, although billions of natural gas and oil can be produced, this technology is not 100% environmentally safe as we are told, for it has its drawbacks. Three major potential dangers may occur whilst fracking for natural gas and oil:

Furthermore, fracking means water depletion. It uses too much water from the aquifers in the process of extraction of the energy resources. 

Fresh water that as we go deep into the future will become scarcer and scarcer to man´s chagrin and a terrible loss for everyone whose lives depend on this priceless resource.

The region where the fracturing technology is applied is plagued with hundreds of drill holes and bare soil patches when seen from the sky (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Fracking in Wyoming (USA). Source: The Equation.

The mess left behind or the patching to remedy its impact if ever done is nothing but a constant reminder of man´s quest to quench his senseless addiction to energy, which it is normally employed to continue one way or another the destruction of the Biosphere with his pointless and rather useless activities that in the end add up to nothingness, and also shows his little respect for the environment in the overall picture of life on planet Earth. 

All of this search for energy is ridiculous and counterproducing in the long run. What man has to do is to learn to live within the planetary limits, consume less, lead a simpler life and get out of his crazyness of searching for a life full of abundance for a few privileged ones, people that notwithstanding their giant net of mechanical gadgetry cannot so often find satisfaction to their loneliness in a natural world from which they become more alienated with each passing day.

Man is a giant and yet smaller than an ant

Man is always pointing and searching in a direction that in the short run it may appear to be right to follow if only guided by the economical compass. But in the long run, it usually turns sour and he ends up snared in his own sticky trap. 

Living is one thing but learning to live is another. Man is unarguably sapiens but wise is another story. He is still far from being that. His record of Nature destruction around the world speaks by itself.

There are many lessons that man has yet to learn from his non-human brethren. He must learn to go along and not against Mother Nature.  

Man is now a giant in matters of science and technology over the entire Earth but he still is a dwarf smaller than an ant when it comes to dealing with the upkeep of his own nest.


American Petroleum Institute (API). (2010). Hydraulic Fracturing: Unlocking America´s Natural Gas Resources. Freeing Up Energy. API, Washington, DC, USA. 14 p. 

Franco J, Rey Martinez A. M. & Feodoroff T. (2013). Old Story, New Threat: Fracking and the Global Land Grab. Transnational Institute, Washington, DC, USA. 12 p. 

Green C. A. & Styles P. (2012). Preese Hall Shale Gas Fracturing: Review & Recommendations for Induced Seismic Mitigation. British Geological Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, UK. 26 p. 

Schafer D. D. (2012). Frack Attack: Cracking the Case Against Hydraulic Fracturing. Independence Institute, Denver, CO, USA. 32 p.

Sumi L. (2005). Our Drinking Water at Risk: What EPA and the Oil and Gas Industry Don´t Want Us to Know about Hydraulic Fracturing. Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Durango, CO, USA. 64 p.

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