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Hydraulic fracturing is a process that has been used to extract natural gas and oil for over six decades. The process involves drilling down into the earth, then using water, sand, and other materials at high pressure to fracture shale formations deep underground. This allows natural gas or oil to flow out of rock pores in the formation previously trapped. Hydraulic fracturing has enabled us to tap into resources that were once too difficult or expensive to reach with traditional suitable drilling technologies.

Specific resources extracted via fracking are called “tight oil” or “tight gas” due to their tight confinement within hard shale rock formations– making them difficult to extract. Because of the difficulties involved in extracting these resources, hydraulic fracturing has become a popular alternative for many petroleum companies worldwide.

The process employs two primary methods: “vertical fracking” and “horizontal fracking.” In vertical fracking, well drillers create microfractures along horizontal planes throughout shale rock formations deep underground using a high-pressure injection of water or other materials such as proppants (sand), chemicals, and small amounts of lubricating fluids called slickwater. When pressure is released from the borehole at surface level, cracks form in order to release natural gas or oil that was previously trapped inside the formation’s pores where it cannot flow on its own because there’s not enough permeability within the formation.

Horizontal fracking is applied when drillers want to reach too deep or distant resources for a vertical wellbore. In this case, the drilling rig turns 90 degrees and drills horizontally through layers of rock where natural gas or oil has been trapped before moving on to another layer deeper underground with more petroleum resources. At surface level, pressure is released from the borehole to create new microfractures throughout shale formations that release natural gas or oil behind hydraulic fracturing fluid already injected into those areas during previous stages of horizontal fracking.

The process used by most companies includes: first preparing an area near the target zone by clearing out equipment; then building containment walls around each site so no other materials can get into the fracking area; and lastly placing a drill rig on site where water, sand, and other materials are pumped down into shale rock formations at extremely high pressures (over 12,000 pounds per square inch) to fracture tight rocks deep underground.


After each injection of the hydraulic fracturing fluid is released from subterranean depths under pressure- natural gas or oil flows back up through the wellbore toward surface level with help from small amounts of additional proppants placed in the borehole near the target zone before pressurization. Containment walls allow for easy cleanup after operations have finished while also preventing any unwanted chemicals used during hydrofracking operations from entering groundwater supplies. Finally, once all stages of drilling and fracking have been completed – cement and casing are placed in the wellbore and surrounding rock formations to ensure any leakage of hydraulic fracturing fluid back into groundwater will be contained.


When all stages are complete, it’s time for companies to begin processing natural gas or oil that has been freed from shale formation microfractures deep underground- during hydraulic fracturing operations. This involves transporting extracted goods via pipelines (if within proximity) or trucks with onsite equipment like storage tanks designed specifically for these types of materials.


Once at an extraction site, hydrocarbons can either be stored until they reach desired destinations, processed immediately after fracking using special refining techniques, or transported directly by building new infrastructure such as railroads or ships capable of shipping large amounts of petroleum products over long distances.