So it appears that North Dakota has its own misinformed anti-fracking group. It looks like one person with a web page, but sometimes it doesn’t take much to get attention. I will not give them the satisfaction of a back-link, but I knew it was only a matter of time before we would have to deal with the fallout of the documentary gasland.

The local chapter released a video of sick animals which is supposedly the result of fracking. They go on to show salt coming out of the walls of a basement and few other things. It appears that they may have water trouble, but the likelihood of it having anything to do with fracking is low. I’m not opposed to it having something to do with drilling(if backed by testing), but it is very troublesome when people make the leap to fracking rather than drilling with no proof.

Many of our readers probably have some understanding of the geology in North Dakota, but I will try to provide a quick explanation of fracking so you are not easily fooled by people who tell you that your water is going to get contaminated.

North Dakota, Montana, and our Neighbors to the North have nothing to worry about when it comes to leaky frack water. Under normal circumstances frack water leaks into drinking water should be impossible.

The Bakken is a geologic formation within the Williston Basin, and it is approximately as hard for water to flow through the Bakken as it is for water to follow through concrete. Oil companies fracture the Bakken with a process called Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking). Fracking cracks the rock by using water pressure that exceeds the mechanical strength of the rock, and the bakken is brittle so it fractures well. The fractures are propped open with stand or ceramics beads, which essentially increase the surface area that oil can flow from. The combination of having 2 mile laterals with fractures means that enough surface area is exposed for small amounts of oil to flow toward the well bore and be produced. Without fracking there would be no Bakken oil production in the Williston Basin period.

For those concerned with the water making back to the surface rest assured it is all but impossible because it takes an extreme amount of pressure to crack rock and while that goal is achieved in the Bakken the units above are much more permeable so fluid can flow easier.

If water from the Bakken starts to flow into the rock units above it would be like a high pressure 2 inch pipe dumping into an 8 foot culvert. All the pressure is lost and the rock above cannot be cracked. Oil companies are very careful to not fracture into the unit above because it can screw up the completion, and they will get less oil.

Side Note: Deep water in the Williston Basin is often very salty (100 times more than sea water) and toxic, but the water from one geological unit the next is very different, which means that the water is probably not communicating. Most of the toxic water that is produced or generated during fracking is reused or injected thousands of feet below any drinking water sources. Typically oil wells in the Willison Basin are 8000+ feet down, and there are more barriers to water communication than I care to count protecting any potential usable water sources.

Let me know what you think. If you would like a better explanation of fracking please feel free to ask specific questions.
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