Fracking vs. Offshore Drilling

Oil and gas are important catalysts of industrialization, economic growth and important household commodities. The method of obtaining these natural products revolves around onshore fracking and offshore drilling (Jackson et al., 2). Fracking is a type of hydraulic fracturing of shale or bedrocks utilizing high pressures of water, sand and additives in order to obtain natural gas and other petroleum products from underground. Offshore drilling involves mechanical drilling of wellbores below the seabed, continental shelf, lake or inshore water body to explore and extract petroleum products (Al-Azani 3). The essay will analyze the similarities of the offshore drilling and fracking methods and their differences detailing the pros and cons of fracking method of drilling.

Fracking and offshore drilling share a number of similarities. First, both methods are aimed and exploring and extracting natural petroleum products from underground bedrocks. Petroleum is formed after years of pressure and heat effect on dead organic matter from overlying rock beds (Davis 2). Drilling of oil therefore involves exploration through seismology, scent detection, physical examination, satellite areal pictures and gravitational studies of the land (Oilscams.org 1).

Extraction follows through fracking or conventional vertical offshore drilling. Secondly, both methods require some basic equipment such as exploratory equipment, pumps, pipelines, storage units and transport means. Thirdly, both methods share similar economic advantages to a country through sale of the drilled petroleum products. The two methods have differences in the process and other inherent parameters (Davis 3).

The differences between fracking and offshore drilling lies on the process, time, equipment, costs and production capacity. Fracking incorporates horizontal wells which direct liquids under high pressure to fracture the rocks while offshore drilling utilize vertical drills which burrow the ground for many miles to reach the oil and gas deposits (Al-Azani 4)). In this way fracking is able to unravel petroleum products hidden deep in the rocks that vertical drilling cannot achieve. Fracking therefore, has more production capacity than ordinary offshore drilling due to the fact that more oil can be released from fractured rocks and more wells can be made through the horizontal drill lines.In terms of cost, fracking is less expensive because it is usually onshore as compared to offshore drilling which require longer drilling depths, more equipment and harsher deep water conditions.

On average offshore drilling costs $4-8 million as compared to fracking which use $1-4 million (Oilscams.org 1). Offshore drilling takes a longer time to create wellbores across longer depths of water as compared to fracking. Lastly, offshore drilling utilize more equipment as compared to fracking. Offshore drilling require various platforms such as fixed platforms, compliant towers, sea star systems and spar platforms to mention a few. These platforms require a lot of stability since they traverse water bodies and thus need more equipment as compared to fracking onshore where land provide natural stability (Oilscams.org 2).

Fracking

Fracking involves use of vertical and horizontal drill lines which utilize high pressure pumps to fracture rock beds and extract oil and gas (Jackson et al., 2). Initially, the wellbores are vertical for substantial length and then turns horizontal to infiltrate many oil sites. Fracking offers a higher production capacity since most of the hidden oil and gas can be obtained through fracturing of rock bed, something that is not possible with conventional drilling methods (Jackson et al., 12). A mixture of water, sand and additives are used to fracture the shale and rocks. Fracking has a number of pros and cons.

Pros of Fracking

Fracking has positive environmental, social, political and economic impacts. Fracking produces natural gas which decreases overreliance on coal hence reduced carbon dioxide emissions and chemical toxicity of the surface (Jackson et al., 6). Fracking enables a country to create jobs in the gas and oil industries since the process requires manpower as well as positive returns on the sale of oil and gas. This has a positive impact on the country’s economic growth as a whole and local communities where major fracking occurs since fracking companies engage in social responsibilities through provision of social amenities, employment and infrastructural development (Jackson et al., 14). Fracking has a number of disadvantages.

Cons of Fracking

Fracking can lead to environmental pollution especially water contamination since the additives used can penetrate drinking water aquifers such as biocide, surfactant, polymeric lubricants and stabilizers (Davies 2). There is a possibility of hydraulic fracturing additives and wastes which are carcinogenic to escape into the environment. Fracking can also cause lines of weakness on the earth’s crust and cause earthquakes. Since industries are not allowed to disclose the chemical they use for fracking, the political impact is that local leaders, health officers and other community members cannot successfully voice any concerns or health issues which require compensation or stoppage of fracking processes (Mazur 7). Socially, the water wastage due to high amounts of water contents required for fracking can cause water shortages (Wells 12).

Conclusion

In conclusion, oil exploration and drilling utilize either fracking or offshore drilling methods. Offshore drilling and fracking share various similarities in terms of functionality of drilling oil and gas from underground, basic equipment and socio-economic impact. The two methods differ in terms of time, productivity, process and cost with fracking producing more oil per station at a shorter time and lesser cost (Oilscams.org 2). Offshore drilling require more equipment and time and cost more due to longer depth of water involved. Basing the argument sorely on fracking, the drilling methods has a number of pros and cons. Fracking reduces environmental emissions, creates employment and promotes economic growth of the country. It however has some pitfalls since it can pollute fresh water aquifers, cause earthquakes and create water shortages (wells 12).

Works cited:

Al-Azani, K. H., & Horn, R. (2014). Drilling Rigs Structure.

Davis, C. (2012). The politics of fracking: Regulating natural gas drilling practices in Colorado and Texas. Review of Policy Research, 29(2), 177-191.

Jackson, R. B., Vengosh, A., Carey, J. W., Davies, R. J., Darrah, T. H., O’sullivan, F., & Ptron, G. (2014). The environmental costs and benefits of fracking. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 39, 327-362.

Mazur, A. (2016). How did the fracking controversy emerge in the period 2010-2012?. Public Understanding of Science, 25(2), 207-222

Veil, J. A. (2002, January). Drilling waste management: past, present, and future. In SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. Society of Petroleum Engineers.

Wells, M. J. M. (2000). Essential guides to method development in solid-phase extraction. Encyclopedia of Separation Science, 10, 4636-4643.