Technology

What is Fracking?

Fracking is an unconventional oil and gas extraction process that involves injecting fluids into the ground at high pressure. Although it varies by project, the fluids generally include a mixture of water, sand and hundreds of different chemicals, including benzene and hydrofluoric acid. This high-pressure injection creates fractures in rock formations where oil and gas is trapped. The fractures—held open by grains of sand in the fracking fluid—enable oil and gas to be released and pulled to the surface. Learn more about the fracking process.

This one minute video from Marketplace gives a high-level description of the fracking process. For more details,  visit our page which describes the full lifecycle of unconventional oil development.

For a deeper dive into the fracking process, this webinar produced by Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles provides California-specific information on hydraulic fracturing.

It is important to note that, in contrast to other states which use fracking primarily to extract natural gas, the primary purpose of fracking in California is to extract heavy crude oil. Read more about the composition of California’s oil.

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