No one can deny that fracking holds enormous potential…
Experts estimate that this technique for harvesting natural gas from shale will add almost 50% to known recoverable natural gas resources and around 11% to known oil reserves around the world.
Fresh water, the most precious natural resource in the world, is a necessary component for fracking. Many scientists believe that we’re running out – something that would prove to be catastrophic. What’s perpetuating this idea of a water shortage is the fact that most shale plays are in very dry parts of the country. According to the Ceres Investor Network, of the 40,000 fracking operations put in place over the past three years, three quarters are located in areas where water is scarce, and nearly 55% are in areas experiencing drought. Fracking is particularly prevalent in California and Texas, the most water-challenged states in the country. While the drought in Texas isn’t as bad this year as it has been, California is on the verge of becoming a desert once again. Plus, fracking in Texas and other states is expected to double in the next five years, while aquifer levels in plays like the Eagle Ford formation in the southern part of the state have dropped by hundreds of feet over the past few years. Indeed, nearly 100 billion gallons of water are used annually for fracking operations, half of which is used in Texas alone. And that may seem like it’s a major strain on our water supply. What most people don’t realize, however, is that this pales in comparison to the trillions of gallons used for farming and personal needs. Farmers in places like California use more water than anywhere else in the country. The almond industry in that state alone uses a staggering 1.1 trillion gallons of water a year.
Since two of the major oil and gas fracking states also happen to be in the two most populous states in the United States – and those two states are also in a drought – water is becoming a concern.
This will play well for regions that are less populated, like the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, where the population of the entire state uses less water in a year than Manhattan. Recycling water is also an option, but the cost benefits are negligible compared to using fresh water.
Thus, water competition among farmers, residents, and the oil and gas industry will rise in the coming years, leading to higher production costs in the states that are most drought stricken.
Martin Milita joined Duane Morris Government Strategies, LLC, in 2012 as a senior director. In this role, Martin Milita has participated in a number of important public policy matters, including discussions involving hydraulic fracturing in New Jersey. Lawmakers in New Jersey have renewed their efforts toward mitigating environmental damage caused by the drilling process referred to as fracking. Also known as hydraulic fracturing, the practice of fracking involves drilling deep into the earth and releasing fluids to create cracks in shale rock, releasing the natural gases trapped inside. The large amount of water used during the fracking process is just one of the environmental issues that have been