Hydraulic Fracturing

Geologists have identified natural gas shale formations throughout parts of Lee, Chatham, Durham, Wake and Orange counties — resources which could be extracted through a process known as hydraulic fracturing.

The energy resources in these areas could be significant.

Hydraulic fracturing is only a subset of a myriad of processes that take place to produce natural gas from shale.  North Carolina currently has regulations in place to oversee activity such as vertical drilling, water management and road use.  However,  North Carolina’s regulations are dated and do not cover hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, therefore prohibiting the ability to develop the state’s rich natural gas resources.

Some policymakers are currently looking at laws to allow the proven technology that has been used in this country for nearly three-quarters of a century.  If the state can learn from the experiences from other states, then North Carolina has the opportunity to put the proper regulations in place that will maximize production, economic benefits, safety and environmental protection.

The Hydraulic Fracturing Process
Hydraulic fracturing is an advanced, effective technique whereby “fracturing fluids”, comprised of more than 99.5 percent water and sand, and less than 0.5 percent chemicals, are injected under high pressure into a shale formation, creating fissures that free the natural gas to flow from rock pores where it is trapped. To learn more about hydraulic fracturing, watch the video below.  In just a few minutes, you will gain an understanding of the critical steps taken before hydraulic fracturing even begins; the safety measures used to protect the fresh water aquifer; and the hydraulic fracturing process itself. 

Click Image for Video Explaining Horizontal Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing

Nearly 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require hydraulic fracturing because it allows access to formations, like shale oil and shale gas, available now as a result of technological advances.  If the process is allowed in North Carolina, we would have the benefit of gaining from the experience of an industry that has used this technology in nearly one million wells for more than 60 years. The combined expertise of thousands of workers in this field has developed comprehensive standards, procedures and regulations to protect citizens and the environment.