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Hydraulic Fracturing


Safe, cost-effective refinements in hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking), horizontal drilling and other innovations now allow for the production of oil and natural gas from tight shale. We use this method in some of our resources such as the Eagle Ford Shale.

Hydraulic fracturing technology is a vital tool the industry employs to produce oil and natural gas resources to meet growing energy demand. Safely used for more than six decades, its importance has been magnified in recent years with the emergence of unconventional resource plays. Combined with advanced horizontal drilling technology, hydraulic fracturing enables the industry to produce oil and gas resources that were previously inaccessible. While these technologies have unlocked new supplies of oil and gas, we understand they must be managed responsibly to minimize environmental impacts.

Well Integrity

Proper well construction is essential to protecting the environment, particularly fresh water aquifers. Steel casing and cement are used in the wellbore to create physical barriers and protect drinking water resources. During well construction, we use industry best practices and comply with state rules that apply to drilling and completion.

Water Use

Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping a mixture of mostly water and sand, and a small amount of additives, under high pressure into the reservoir to create fractures, or cracks, in the target rock formation. This increases the production rate and ultimate recovery of oil and natural gas from a well.

Marathon Oil continuously looks for ways to use less water in our hydraulic fracturing operations and to minimize the environmental impacts of our operations on local watersheds. We actively pursue alternative sources for water, such as aquifers whose water supply does not meet standards for municipal or agricultural use, as well as evaluate technologies for recycling and treating produced water for reuse in our operations. 


As a result of an apparent increase in seismic activity in Oklahoma, Texas and several other states, a number of regulatory bodies and public sector groups are studying potential links between the oil and gas extraction process and seismic events. Marathon Oil has been working with API and various state oil and gas trade associations on this issue, specifically efforts regarding the possible role of wells used to dispose of water associated with the oil and gas extraction process. We are monitoring the progress of these studies and complying with existing and new permitting requirements for injection of liquids into wells. In addition, Marathon Oil is prepared to respond appropriately to any regulatory changes that result from industry and regulatory investigations.

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids

We manage and dispose of our waste produced fluids from hydraulically fractured wells in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations to protect surface and ground water resources and natural habitat.

Marathon Oil took a leadership role in developing FracFocus, an online chemical disclosure registry of wells drilled and hydraulically fractured.

Marathon Oil supports specific, state-level disclosure of fracturing fluid components, and participates voluntarily for all of our hydraulic fracturing activities worldwide. We have worked with other operators and trade organizations to develop and implement the registry.