Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is a key technology for producing oil and natural gas in unconventional resource plays across the U.S.

In combination with advanced horizontal drilling technology, hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to develop oil and gas resources that were previously inaccessible, providing energy resources to fuel economic prosperity in the U.S. These technologies have unlocked oil and gas deposits in U.S. unconventional resources such as the South Texas Eagle Ford, North Dakota Bakken, Oklahoma Resource Basins and New Mexico Northern Delaware Basin. In keeping with our commitment to environmental stewardship, we take steps to minimize our impacts from hydraulic fracturing by ensuring well integrity, conserving water, reducing air emissions from flaring and other sources, and managing waste responsibly.

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 use industry best practices and comply with state rules for 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 looks for ways to use less water in our hydraulic fracturing operations and to minimize operational impacts on local watersheds. We pursue alternative sources for water, such as aquifers whose water supply does not meet standards for municipal or agricultural use, and evaluate technologies for recycling and treating produced water for reuse.


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. Fluids are recovered and stored with care to minimize any spills or leaks. In addition, we reuse or dispose of these fluids at locations where we have confirmed that vendors have proper permits and approvals to operate in this manner. Marathon Oil supports specific, state-level disclosure of fracturing fluid components. We worked with other operators and trade organizations to 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 2,283 wells through December 2016. We encourage service companies that work with us to disclose their fracturing fluid components as well.

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