The oil and shale industry has been in decline these last few years, according to market experts. societal concerns on climate change and the potential effects shale gas extraction on the ecosystem have been turning off consumers. This has prompted oil and shale companies to seek alternative means of extracting shale.
One of these methods is hydrofracking, which is an improved form of fracking. The process of hydraulic fracking forces shale rocks to produce gas by injecting a certain area with high amounts of pressure. The process has had unexpected impacts to economies.
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There are environmental concerns about the process. Technically speaking, hydrofracking does not emit harmful gas to the environment. Machinery can dig deep into the ground and extract the energy source directly. However, scientists are unsure whether this may weaken the rocks below and cause unforeseen effects. These alleged environmental effects are still to be fully studied but already have shifted the way economies are handling their natural gas perspective.
Hydrofracking is expected to support local economies and lessen reliance on foreign oil. This has political implications. This method of extraction means that each country could technically support itself in case of a global crisis. Government agencies are working closely with local oil and shale companies to ensure that no political affiliations are made in the manufacture or production of shale gas.
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Despite hydrofracking being a relatively new process in the oil and shale industry, these two implications are being heavily discussed by those involved in the market. Current forecasts are not clear and determinedly noncommittal.
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Of all the fossil fuels, coal is by and large the most easily accessible and also most sharply criticized. Coal is known for producing copious quantities of noxious fumes and greenhouse gases. The continued use of coal in power generation across the world remains one of the major stumbling blocks in achieving key goals in air pollution.
And coal’s effects are evident in daily life. Old industrial cities in the 19th century were known to be shrouded in thick layers of smog and soot. Even today, working in close proximity to power plants that run on coal is a known health hazard, contributing to a whole array of respiratory diseases.
It would be strange, then, for the primary contender for replacing this most noxious of polluters would be another fossil fuel source. To the surprise of some, natural gas holds the key to ending coal dependence. Natural gas produces the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions among the fossil fuels, and developments have made natural gas a more readily available and economic fuel source.
The growing volume of natural gas plants has already made a visible impact toward greater sustainability, thus making possible a wide-scale decommissioning of coal-fired power plants in recent years. Already, an unprecedented number of coal plant closures has significantly contributed to meeting and exceeding emission reduction goals set out in the Waxman-Markey legislation. Meanwhile, watchdog organizations like the Sierra Club remain optimistic that further reductions can be achieved, provided the continuation of current trends.
Brian Alfaro helms Primera Energy, LLC, a Texas-based energy company dedicated to innovative and environmentally sound methods of petroleum and natural gas exploration and extraction. Visit this blog for more updates on the energy industry.