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Hydraulic fracturing

A key technology for producing oil and natural gas in unconventional resource plays across the U.S., and its use is emerging in other countries.


Navigate Page: Fluids | FracFocus | Water Use | Well Integrity

In combination with advanced horizontal drilling technology, hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to develop oil and gas resources that were previously inaccessible.These technologies have unlocked oil and gas deposits for Marathon Oil in the South Texas Eagle Ford, North Dakota Bakken Shale and Oklahoma Resource Basins. In keeping with our commitment to environmental stewardship, we take steps to ensure well integrity, conserve water, reduce air emissions from flaring and other sources and manage waste responsibly to minimize our impacts.

Well Integrity

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

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.


To protect surface and groundwater resources and natural habitat, we manage and dispose of our produced fluid waste from hydraulically fractured wells in accordance with all federal, state and local regulations. Marathon Oil supports specific, state-level disclosure of fracturing fluid components. We worked with other operators and trade organizations to develop and implement FracFocus, a voluntary online chemical registry for hydraulically fractured wells. Marathon Oil has entered all of our wells drilled and hydraulically fractured in the U.S. in FracFocus, a total of 2,049 wells through December 2015. We encourage service companies that work with us to disclose their fracturing fluid components as well.

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