Learn about hydraulic fracturing

The United States has thousands of trillions of cubic feet of natural gas reserves — a century’s supply — trapped deep below in shale rock formations. Fracking is the only way to get that oil and gas.

Fracking has been around since the late 1940s. As technology has improved, so has our ability to safely recover the vast supplies of natural gas. Here’s how it’s done:

Once a site has been prepared for production, a steel pipe (known as surface casing) is cemented into place to help protect groundwater.

As the well is drilled deeper, additional casing is installed, further safeguarding groundwater and the environment.

Fracturing fluids (made up of primarily water and sand) are injected under very high pressure, creating fissures that allow natural gas or oil to move more freely.

Plugs are used to put pressure on the smaller portions of the formation, which helps maximize the fractures.

The plugs are then removed and the well’s pressure is reduced. This leaves the sand in place to prop open the fractures and allow natural gas or oil to flow toward the surface.

Water collected during the flowback process is properly disposed of or treated and re-used in future operations.

When completed, the production site is reduced to about the size of a two-car garage. The remainder of the site is restored to its original condition. The environmental benefits, such as lower greenhouse gas emissions, last for decades.