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Special Report on Hydraulic Fracturing

November 2012

By A. Roeloffs, C. Headen & JD Taillant

What is fracking?

Hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking): Fracking is amethod used to create fractures that extend from the well bore into rock or coal formations (Suárez 2012). These fractures allow the oil or gas contained in the rock to migrate from rock pores, where the oil or gas is trapped, to the production well. To access this natural gas, vertical wells are drilled and highly pressurized water, sand, and fracking fluids are pumped into the rock at high pressure. This highly pressured waterinduces pressure fractures in the rock
and the existing micro‐cracks can be extended by a few millimeters. Sand (or quartz powder) is injected into the cracks to subsequently hold them open allowing the gas to exit. The crack surfaces achieved can be a few hundred meters in length and can reach several tens of meters in height. The propagation of cracks is monitored by seismo‐acoustic techniques and can be controlled by variation of water pressure. Chemicals are used to assist the injection process into the cracks. The natural gas then flows into the well. This process provides access to previously inaccessible sources of natural gas.

Map of shale basins in Argentina:

Boyer et al. 2011

More Information:

Fracking (Pro Publica – Public Interest Journalism)

Is Fracking Safe? Top Ten Myths About Natural Gas Drilling (Popular Mechanics) 


Argentinian Laws governing hydrocarbons

Ley 17.319

Ley 26.197

Ley 26.741


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