Hydraulic fracturing — also called “fracking” — is the process where we pump mostly water, sand and other ingredients at high pressure into wells that have been drilled for oil and gas. The pressure creates fissures in the rock and releases oil or gas for pumping.
Hydraulic fracturing is only one part of the drilling practice, but it’s not new. In fact, more than 1 million fracture stimulation jobs have been performed since 1948. We’ve used fracking for 30 to 40 years on thousands of wells throughout the Rocky Mountain region, mid-continent region and neighboring states. We have no incident where our fracturing caused a negative impact to drinking water or the environment.
We, and the agencies that regulate us, are committed to preventing release of any fracturing fluids into groundwater aquifers. There is a robust regulatory framework that prevents any harmful environmental impacts of fracking. In addition, we take every precaution in the pre-drilling well design and actual operations to ensure environmental safety. More than 99 percent of the material we pump into wells for fracking is water, and the rest is made up of sand and chemicals to control pH, bacteria, corrosion and viscosity.
The Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies, including the Department of Interior, are engaged in studies examining the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water and other resources. These studies may be the first step toward regulating hydraulic fracturing practices on the federal level. We believe that states are best equipped to regulate this practice. Some states, including Wyoming, have adopted progressive regulations setting standards for hydraulic fracturing practices and for requiring disclosure of such practices.