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Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” technology is a vital tool Marathon Oil applies to produce much needed oil and gas resources to meet growing energy demand.
Safely used for more than 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has grown in importance with the emergence of unconventional resource plays. Combined with advanced horizontal drilling technology, fracking enables us to produce oil and gas resources that were previously inaccessible.
While these technologies have unlocked new supplies of oil and gas, they must be managed responsibly to minimize environmental impacts. The primary concerns with fracking are water usage, disclosure and management of frack fluids, and well integrity.
Our goal is to minimize the environmental impact of our operations on local watersheds. For example, in portions of the Eagle Ford Shale, water supplies in certain aquifers do not meet standards for municipal or agricultural use, but may be acceptable for oil and gas use. Marathon Oil actively pursues these alternative sources, as well as reviews available technology that would enable us to reuse more water.
Flowback fluids from a hydraulically fractured well are disposed of in accordance with all state and local regulations to ensure the protection of surface and ground water resources and natural habitat. Marathon Oil supports specific, state-level disclosure of frack fluid constituents and applies the chemical disclosure program FracFocus (www.fracfocus.org) voluntarily where not required by law.
Proper well construction is essential to protecting the environment, particularly fresh water aquifers. Steel casing and cement is used in the wellbore to create physical barriers, protecting drinking water resources. During well construction, we use industry best practices, in addition to complying with state rules that apply to drilling and completion.
There has been speculation that fracking may cause seismic or earthquake activity. Experts in the fields of geology and seismic activity, including the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, generally do not consider a connection plausible. Fracking is too localized in comparison to the size of geologic formations to create seismic or earthquake activity. Recent reports indicate a potential link between underground injection disposal wells and localized seismic activity. We evaluate local geology as part of our due diligence of injection wells. Also, underground injection wells are subject to rigorous siting, design, monitoring and permitting requirements, all of which is regulated by state statutes and/or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.