Hydraulic fracturing enables companies like ExxonMobil to access unconventional oil and natural gas resources located in shale and tight-rock formations.
A proven technology with widespread economic benefits
The recent revolution in energy production, brought about by the rapid growth of unconventional gas and oil development in the United States, has generated widespread economic benefits as well as significant greenhouse gas reductions.
Hydraulic fracturing is one of several steps in the process of developing unconventional resources. At its most basic level, a “conventional” resource will flow on its own to the wellbore, while an “unconventional” resource will not. In this context, “unconventional” refers to oil and gas contained in layers of hard rock. Hydraulic fracturing is the process by which the rock is broken up, allowing the oil and gas trapped inside to flow to the well. Although new technologies have made the use of hydraulic fracturing increasingly prevalent, it is not a new practice. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in over 1 million wells worldwide over the last six decades.
Recent innovations in fracking have enabled oil and natural gas producers to unlock vast new energy supplies from ‘tight’ rock sources such as shale. This energy abundance has brought with it new jobs, lower prices for consumers and a manufacturing renaissance.
Natural gas competes in every sector
World – percent of total energy demand
Accessing abundant new resources responsibly
As with any industrial process, developing unconventional resources entails certain risks. Throughout the entire unconventional oil and natural gas life cycle, from exploration to decommissioning, care is taken to minimize the disruption to the community and protect the environment.