Unlocking Vast New Natural Gas
Resources for North America
Clean, Domestic Natural Gas
Although geologists have known for years that shale formations hold vast
deposits of natural gas, the natural gas in these formations was not thought
to be recoverable until recently. Today, through a combination of hydraulic
fracturing and horizontal drilling, energy companies are safely producing
extraordinary amounts of natural gas from these formations.
Hydraulic fracturing is a proven process, and by using this advancing
technology, the U.S. has the potential to signifcantly reduce carbon dioxide
(CO2) emissions and to decrease our reliance on imported foreign fuel.
Developing the natural gas resources held by shale gas formations is critical
to America’s energy needs and its economic renewal.
Numerous federal regulations govern the
fracing process, and state oil and gas
regulatory programs are in place to protect
groundwater. The state regulatory programs
require that multiple layers of protective steel
casing, surrounded by cement, be installed to
protect freshwater aquifers.
What Is Hydraulic Fracturing?
Hydraulic fracturing (“fracing”) is the process
of creating fssures in underground formations
to allow natural gas to fow. During fracing,
water, sand and other additives are pumped
under high pressure into the shale formation
to create fractures. Frac fuid is approximately
99.5% water and sand, with a small amount
of special-purpose additives. The sand is used
to “prop” open the newly created fractures,
which allows the natural gas to fow into the
wellbore and up to the surface. Hydraulic
fracing is typically performed only once in
the life of a well.
Protecting Groundwater
The producible portions of shale formations
are more than a mile below the earth’s
surface and are separated from groundwater
aquifers by thousands of feet of protective
rock barriers. The average depth of a shale gas
well is more than 7,500 feet and can reach
depths greater than 13,000 feet.
Properly conducted, modern hydraulic
fracing is a highly controlled and safely
engineered process that has been used by the
oil and gas industry since the 1940s.
The process is a key tool in natural gas
production, and more than one million U.S.
wells have been safely produced using the
technology over the past 60 years.
How deep is 7,500 feet?
º six Empire 5tate BuiIdings stacked end-to-end
º 1.5 times deeper than the deepest part of the
Grand Canyon
º more than 25 footbaII heIds Iaid out
Shale Fractures
Average distance
from surface: 7,500 feet
Groundwater Aquifer
Steel Casing
Private Well
Municipal Water Well:
<1,000 ft.
Conductor Casing
Surface Casing
Intermediate Casing
Production Casing
Production Tubing
In addition to water and sand, other additives are
used to enhance frac fuids and improve the safety
and efectiveness of fracturing the rock. These
additives are used in extremely low concentrations
and include a number of compounds found in
common consumer products.
*The specific additives used in a given fracturing operation will vary depending on source water quality, site and
specific characteristics of the target formation. The additives listed above are typical components but other
additives are also common.
Typical Additives Used in Hydraulic Fracturing*
Compound* Purpose Common application
Frac Facts
- Hydraulic fracturing is essential for the production of natural gas from deep shale formations.
- Deep shale gas formations exist many thousands of feet underground.
- Multiple layers of protective steel casing surrounded by cement protect freshwater aquifers as administered
and enforced under state regulations.
- Frac fluids are 99.5% water and sand.
Borate Crosslinker
and Buffer
Ammonium Persulfate
Enzyme Breaker
Acetic Acid
Triethanolamine (TEA)
Acid (EDTA)
gas phase in a foam
thickening agent so that the
water can carry sand
type of clay added to
suspend solids in the slurry
increase the viscosity of
the slickwater fluid
break up the guar and allow
it to flow out of the sand
after the fracture treatment
degrade the guar and clean
up the fracture
fracture fluid recovery or to
create and stabilize a foam
to lower pH in
frac fluid water
iron control, to prevent
damage in the formation
water mineral deposit
Common Use
79% of the air we breathe
ice cream, salad dressings
cat litter, cosmetics
hand soap (borate), baking
soda (pH buffer)
oxidizing agent, hydrogen
meat tenderizers,
brewing beer
dishwashing soap,
household cleaners
fabric softener
food preservative
The Barnett Shale Energy Education Council (BSEEC)
is a community resource that provides information to the
public about gas drilling and production in the Barnett
Shale region in North Texas.
777 Taylor Street, Suite 900
Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Phone: 817-338-3305 www.bseec.org
Clean-burning natural gas will continue to play a vital role in meeting U.S. energy needs. And,
U.S. natural gas supply is expected to come increasingly from domestic gas-flled shales. Key to
the emergence of shale gas production has been the refnement of horizontal drilling and
hydraulic fracturing technologies. These technologies enable industry to produce more natural
gas from the shale formations economically and with less disturbance of surface environments.

- U.S. Department of Energy
Natural Gas: America’s Abundant
Energy Source
- The natural gas industry is responsible for nearly
3 million American jobs and $181 billion in
wages and benefits.
- 97% of the natural gas used in the U.S. comes
from North America, reducing reliance on
imported oil.
- We have more than a 100-year supply of natural gas.
- Compared to coal, natural gas emits nearly 50%
less CO2.

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