Not the Fault of Fracing

It seems like all week, headlines and the social buzz have centered around the quakes in Oklahoma-were they really caused by fracing?

The magnitude-5.6 quake that rocked Oklahoma three miles underground had the power of 3,800 tons of TNT, which is nearly 2,000 times stronger than the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback said that the typical energy released in tremors triggered by fracing, "is the equivalent to a gallon of milk falling off the kitchen counter."

Oklahoma, known as an energy state, is home to 185,000 drilling wells and hundreds of injection wells, some not educated about the oil and gas industry might question whether the activity was natural or man-made.

"There's a fault there," said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle. "You can have an earthquake that size anywhere east of the Rockies. You don't need a huge fault to produce an earthquake that big. It's uncommon, but not unexpected."

Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland, who has documented some of the biggest shaking associated with fracing, compared a man-made seismic event to a mosquito bite. "It's really quite inconsequential," he said.

Although hydraulic fracturing has been practiced for decades, it has recently grown in notoriety as moratoriums on onshore and offshore drilling and slow permitting have caused exploration to move elsewhere to meet the world's energy needs.  In the U.S. and increasingly overseas in countries such as Poland and France, enormous reserves of natural gas and oil are waiting to be tapped.

Hydraulic fracturing has been an industry staple for more than 60 years and the technology and safe guards continue to improve, with the right people and science in place, there's no reason we can't frac safely to obtain the resources we need.