Seismic window Fracking Fracking or hydraulic fracture stimulation (Figure 1) has become the latest target for anti-petroleum protest groups. That would be fair enough if the industry was destroying the environment, contaminating schools or polluting ground water as claimed, but more than 14 reports and inquiries in Australia have concluded that the process can be considered to be safe. The WA Government released its long awaited report on fracking in WA at the end of 2018. This report also concluded that fracking is proven to be safe when properly regulated, but the WA Premier had to contend with vocal constituents who oppose the process. The decision he made was a pragmatic compromise, fracking is allowed on current exploration leases and 98% banned everywhere else. The“fracking”debate is typically emotion vs science, obfuscation vs clarity, and the dramatic vs the accurate. Any reasonable argument based on facts and science is ignored and, despite the studies and research, a typical internet comment is“there should be no fracking done anywhere. It’s an environmental disaster”. To add to the debate, here are my five facts about fracking: Fact 1: Artificial fracture stimulation has been conducted in Australia for more than 50 years without incident Fracking is a well-established process and has been safely carried out in Australia for decades. Santos has used artificial stimulation to produce oil and gas for almost 50 years in South Australia and Queensland, while in the Northern Territory, fracking was first used in 1967. More than 600 wells have been fracked in Western Australia since 1958, the first being Goldwyer-1. On Barrow Island, an A class reserve, 563 wells have been fracked since 1965. Fact 2: The longest recorded artificial fracture is less than 600 m A few years ago, Durham University in the UK compiled a database of natural and artificial fractures that was available for download. It has since disappeared, but researchers, under the auspices of the ReFINE (Researching Fracking in Europe) Consortium, have published this: Our study examined thousands of natural and stimulated hydraulic fractures. For natural fractures, analysis of 1170 examples from offshore Norway, West Africa and Namibia showed the maximum reported height to be 1106 m. For thousands of stimulated hydraulic fractures in shale gas fields the maximum reported height was 588 m. Mathematical analysis of the datasets indicates that the likelihood of a natural hydraulic fracture extending vertically more than 350 m is about 33%. For hydraulic fractures stimulated by shale gas fracking, the likelihood of them extending more than 350 m is less than 1%. Fact 3: No drinking water aquifers have been contaminated by fracking The WA Health Department completed its own review of fracking. It noted that targeted gas reserves were located between 2  and 4 km below the ground – well below the potable ground water sources – and found that fracking could be done safely. And the view of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel?“The evidence is not there that it’s dangerous,”he told the ABC in 2015.“In fact, the evidence is that, if properly regulated, it’s completely safe.” But what about the secret chemicals in fracking fluid? There are additives, but they are not very secret – you can get a list of these here: uploads/2014/08/CSG-fraccing- chemicals.pdf An interesting exercise is to look under your kitchen sink and compare what you have there with items on the fracking list. Fact 4: The Gasland movie is fiction The anti-fracking movement gained considerable support and momentum following the release of the Gasland movie. It has since been found that the movie was contrived and deceptive and has been discredited. The water supply to the spectacular flaming faucet was indeed burning methane from the aquifer. This methane was determined to be either biogenic or naturally occurring gas two years before the movie’s release. In Gasland II, a garden hose was deliberately attached to a gas supply point before the nozzle end was lit. It was all a stunt. Fact 5: No one will listen to you The above facts should put you in the box seat at your next family gathering, but from my experience, you will be met by relatives with fingers in their ears and making a LA LA LA LA sound. I suggest you talk about religion, politics or the weather (not climate) instead. Some interesting websites: sites/researchwebsites/1refine/ frackingsummaryrb/Fracking%20 Summary%20RB%202.0.pdf default/files/final_report.pdf sites/researchwebsites/1refine/ framingfrackingrb/Framing%20 Fracking%20RB%20English.pdf Michael Micenko Associate Editor for Petroleum Figure 1.  Simplifieddiagramofhydraulicfracturing (fracking)forshalegas.Awellisdrilleddown intotheshalegasreservoir.Atthetargethorizon, high-pressurefluidsareinjectedintotheshale.This producesman-madefracturesthatenablegastoflow fromtheshaleintothewell.Source:ReFINEfactsheet. 27 PREVIEW FEBRUARY 2019 Seismic window