Extracting Natural Gas From Shale Formations

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Natural gas produced from shale formations has become important in the energy supply market for the United States. Extracting natural gas from shale reserves was not considered feasible until recently because of low permeability of the shale rock formations. New developments in hydraulic fracturing technology have led to a boom in domestic shale gas production. The United States has experienced economic benefits through revenue and job creation in predominantly rural areas while increasing the energy security of the U.S. by decreasing dependence on foreign oil supplies. However, the resounding question remains: at what cost? Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a process used to extract natural gas from deep shale reserves 5,000-8,000 feet below the ground surface. This process allows energy companies to access previously unavailable energy sources in states that have deep oil and gas reserves. The fracking process involves pumping a mixture of water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into a well, which fractures the surrounding rock formation and props open passages that allow natural gas to freely flow from rock fractures to the production well. Once the well is developed, the carrying fluid can then flow back to the ground surface along with the gas. Shale gas has become embroiled in controversy over alleged impacts on public health and the environment. Some segments of the public have become deeply suspicious of the veracity and motives of gas companies. These
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