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Hydraulic Fracturing and Louisiana

Hydraulics_LouisianaIn past posts we have covered a wide range of interesting topics related to hydraulic parts, engineering, and general uses for hydraulic equipment. In today’s post, we will be looking at hydraulic fracturing and the process behind it. We will also be discussing some of the adverse effects of hydraulic fracturing, and how it may affect you in your Louisiana area. You may be like a lot of people out there and not have the foggiest idea as to why hydraulic fracturing is. Perhaps you are more familiar with the concept than you would think, because it’s also known as “fracking” (fear not, that isn’t a horrific Battlestar Galactica reference).

What is it?

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, incorporates the injection of over one million gallons of water, sand, and chemicals at an extremely high pressure. This sheer volume of water typically takes around 200 tanker trucks to deliver enough water for the fracking process. The injection is drilled down vertically, and then into horizontally drilled wells, as deep as ten thousand feet below ground level. The mixture of sand, water, and chemicals causes the rock layer to crack. The tiny fissures remain open due to the sand particles’ staying power, that way natural gas from the rock (typically shale) flows up the well to the surface. The natural gas will then be stored in a tank, eventually being piped to market. The recovered water will be stored in open pits, where it is then taken to a water treatment plant to be reused.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process employed by nine out of every ten natural gas wells within the United States. Despite its functional ubiquitousness, hydraulic fracturing is still known as an “unconventional” means of producing natural gas. This is likely due to the fact that it is a relatively new process, starting even after Coalbed methane production began in the 1980s. The new technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have opened up new avenues for oil and gas drilling, namely in shale, coalbed, and tight-sand reservoirs.

Not Just Oil and Gas

Although hydraulic fracturing’s mainstream use started before the turn of the century, the process has been around for over seventy years, and has contributed to more than just oil and natural gas drilling. Fracking has had an array of purposes, from affecting the flow of water from water wells, to taking geothermal wells into the spotlight of commercial viability. The EPA has even used fracking as a remediation tool to clean up Superfund sites.

Louisiana and Fracking

If you are in the Louisiana area, first, you may find this next part interesting. Over two thousand different fracking wells have been drilled in Louisiana’s Haynesville Shale. While this may do well to stimulate the local economy, such extensive drilling is not without its drawbacks. A Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine study has suggested that hydraulic fracturing is sickening and killing cows, horses, goats, and other life forms, including humans. The issue is that there have been spills from dumping fluid into streams. Some reports indicate that workers have been known to slit the lining of an evaporation pond, so that it would drain to make room for more fluid. Easy fix. This study included Louisiana as a location in their research. In addition to this finding, there are concerns about the correlation between fracking and air quality, groundwater, radiation, and even earthquakes. Quite the list. In regards to air quality, one of the primary chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing is methane. It has been estimated that roughly 4% is released into the atmosphere during extraction. This pollution worsens the air quality for on-site workers and even the local residents.

Fracking and the Louisiana Supreme Court

Here’s another Louisiana-related-fracking-fact. In 2015 a Louisiana state judge ruled that St. Tammany Parish could not use its zoning regulations to block a fracking project within parish borders. The town appealed, and the case eventually made its way all the way up to the Louisiana Supreme Court. The court would not hear the appeal, voting 4-3 against the hearing of the appeal in 2016. Hence, state law preempts parish zoning ordinances in the state of Louisiana.


Why do we care?

So, you may be asking yourself, “That’s all well and good, but what exactly does this have to do with a hydraulic repair company in Lafayette Louisiana?” Excellent question, we are glad you asked. Although fracking is not completely in our wheelhouse, we want our customers and readers to trust us with all things hydraulics. Whether you are looking for a new hydraulic pump, or want to read some interesting (and today, alarming) facts about hydraulics in a general sense, we at Acadiana Hydraulics are your one stop shop. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today for all of your hydraulic repair, parts, or general service needs!


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