What is Fracking?
The fracking process
The Fracking Process

The process of fracking essentially is the extraction of natural gas (methane) from shale rock using high volume hydraulic fracturing.
Shale rock is found throughout Ireland. It is formed from mud laid down in layers millions of years ago. Originally the mud was mixed with rotting vegetation but, as it sank further and further underground, now has methane gas trapped between the layers. Shale used for gas production usually is a mile or more below the surface.
Hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) is an industrial operation pumping large volumes (over 4 million gallons) of water mixed with thousands of tons of sand and chemicals at explosive pressure through the shale, shattering the rock and releasing the gas.

How is the gas produced?

• A concrete mining “pad” is constructed for up to 24 wells.
• A well is drilled down to the shale rock layer.
• A “casing” of steel pipe and cement around the bore is designed to keep fluids and gases from escaping and contaminating underground aquifers.
• Once the well reaches the shale layer (a mile or more belowground), the drill travels horizontally along the shale layer another mile or two.
• Hydraulic fracturing then takes place along the horizontal section, releasing the gas, which escapes up the pipe to the surface.

Land use

1336729811• Initial target area 100,000 acres, 7-acre pad every square mile, up to 24 wells per pad
• 3,000 wells planned in Fermanagh/Leitrim.
• Farming and tourism are not compatible with fracking!
• Access to land allowed for ”energy infrastructure” works.
• 1,000 heavy vehicles needed to construct a pad and drill one well. Huge traffic problems on country roads.

Air pollution

Environmental-Damage-2•  Diesel fumes, dust, noise.
• Emissions from wells – petroleum products – Benzene, Toluene, Xylene (BTEX) highly toxic.
•  Sand used during fracking causes silica dust, cause of silicosis in workers.
• All wells leak over time, causing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Water contamination

Natural_Gas_Fracking_01• Thousands of tons of chemicals and sand are used during fracking.
• Many of those frack fluid chemicals are toxic, e.g. concentrated acids, bleaches and detergents, formaldehyde and other biocides.
• 40% or more of the millions of gallons of frack fluids used come back to the surface. This “flowback” contains heavy metals (chromium, lead), radioactive elements (Radium, Uranium), salt (up to 30%) and BTEX petroleum products. There is NO acceptable disposal route for toxic flowback liquids in Ireland.
• Accidents happen – spillages, vehicle accidents, leakages from tanks, ponds etc. Streams, rivers, lakes contaminated.
Undergrounds leakages happen. Methane gas can contaminate aquifers supplying domestic water (tap water on fire). Frack fluids can also leak into drinking water supplies, 243 recorded instances of water contamination in Pennsylvania.

Health impacts

dc7eAxzzi• Health impacts in general attributed to toxic emissions from well sites situated near houses. Include cancers (e.g., leukaemia), respiratory and dermal diseases.
• Workers have increased risk of silicosis from the sand used.
• Other impacts include cardiovascular, renal, immune system, mental health, injuries, endocrine disrupters that can impact future generations as well as mothers and babies.
• Communities are also impacted – sudden influx of outsiders, crime, stress, mental illness, splits between ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Jobs and Economic Boom?

iIPFxxAvBxysYes, there would be jobs associated with the industry, especially in the initial phase. However, most would not be local – teams of experienced workers are brought in by the industry to do specialised jobs. Local jobs are mostly confined to non-specialist labour and construction. Such jobs are temporary. Long-term maintenance jobs are few – maybe three per 24 wells.
Gas produced locally does NOT result in cheaper bills for local people, any more than Scottish oil resulted in cheap oil for Scotland. The gas would go into the international grid and sold at market prices.
Royalties would be paid to central government on profits after development costs, etc. These would not be more than could be generated from alternative energy sources, e.g. solar, wind, water.



  1. I am finding your approach to fracking v industrial wind turbines smacks of double standards.

    You have raised no concerns whatsoever about the sheer amount of CO2 which goes into manufacture, transport and construction of industrial wind turbines, along with the sheer increase in the volume of pylons, energy substations and stations required to accommodate them. None of that is ever recovered in the lifetime of the turbine which lasts, on average, 14 years. You may have been led to believe otherwise, but dig deeper and you will get to the bottom of it.

    Industrial wind turbines cannot be used on their own. They are totally dependent on spinning reserve (the fossil fuel power station running in the background) because wind is intermittent. That means that since Ireland is only investing in industrial wind turbines as its ‘renewable energy’ source, we will never be able to rid ourselves of using fossil fuel most of the time.

    Let us also address the toxic lakes and the destruction of the communities in China and Mongolia due to the rare earth mineral mining required to support the huge batteries in the turbines. Why is it ok for those people to be poisoned, babies born deformed if born at all and their communities destroyed but not ours?

    Now, if your argument against fracking is due to the poison being generated and Irish people being impacted by that poison, at least be fair and honest about the people who must die for industrial wind turbines while absolutely no meaningful saving of the use of fossil fuel actually happens.

    The Irish import €6.5 BILLION in fossil fuel each year – they claim, with great pride, that the use of industrial wind turbines saved them €75 million in 2011. Nobody has yet counted the losses against the €75 million in tourism, price increases in our energy bills pushing people into fuel poverty, businesses going under etc… etc….

    Why are you not addressing any of that? The information is all out there if you genuinely want to compare like with like.

  2. You will have to be more specific about some of your assertions, e.g. “people to be poisoned, babies born deformed” Evidence? Links to sources? Making turbines does cause CO2 emissions, about as much as are saved in the first year of operation. Turbines operate for 20+ years.
    Your statements about spinning reserve don’t add up – all power plants need reserves and the more we use renewable energies, the less we will require power plants fueled by fossil fuels. Anyway, it looks like that in a few years batteries will have taken over from such reserves.

  3. This is a pretty hysterical piece with little connection to fracking reality. There is clearly a fact and knowledge deficit.

    • Thanks, Tony! yes, there is a knowledge deficit; what DID happen to the produced water from the fracked well in South Lancashire that caused two small earthquakes? Sorry for the delay in acknowledging your post, but I have been working on 400 references to the realities of fracking .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


® All rights reserved to GEAI. 2014
%d bloggers like this: