Fracking has come to be a curse word in some circles and a blessing in others.
Oil is like farming. when everyone does well, everyone does poorly.
That is, when everyone has a good crop, it depresses prices and everyone gets less money.
Oil is similar. When there is plenty of oil, the price per barrel is lower.
Fracking (fracturing) in concert with horizontal drilling has acted to create a market awash in oil.
This in turn has devastated the economies of Russia, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia which depend almost solely on oil.
Slightly less affected are Mexico, Nigeria and other producers who have more diversified economies.
Nevertheless, it has been a wrenching dislocation.
And it is not set to end. So it is a boomeranging "curse" to these nations.
First, a bit of historical context.
Fracking is not new. It has been around for almost a century.
Back then it was named "secondary and tertiary recovery".
An oil field relies upon the underground pressure and heat to force oil out of the pores in rock and to the surface.
After a period of production, field pressure drops and the field will go idle. Time will build that pressure back up.
Often, a very small percentage of a field is extracted before it becomes difficult to extract.
Just as pumps help the journey to the surface, "fracking" is intended to give the pooling of oil a leg up.
In the old days, there were a number of ingenious solutions to re-pressurize a field.
Sometimes they would reinject brine which was a byproduct of drilling.
Sometimes methane, which was oddly considered a waste gas was reinjected.
Steam, hot water, Carbon dioxide, nitrogen; all were tried with varying degrees of success.
Comparatively speaking, it was reasonably benign.
Today, there is a cocktail of some six hundred compounds, probably all poisonous carcinogens illegal in the State of California.
But that's speculation because the oil companies have created themselves a loophole which exempts them from disclosure.
They cite proprietary trade secrets, except that Halliburton and Schlumberger provide them all with identical products.
Hence, no proprietary knowledge, no competitive advatage to risk.
What's in these? Likely solvents. Really nasty solvents. The ones which make your liver explode.
Things like acetone, toluene, xylene all come to mind. But if it's a cocktail of six hundred solvents, those are probably lightweights.
Things that make flames come out your water faucet!
Stuff you can put in a paper bag to get "high" right before it kills you.
Here's to "proprietary secrets"!
The single most pressing reason not to remove all the oil from the ground and
burn it has to do with climate change.
There is also another long term perspective.
There is a finite amount of oil underground. When it is all burned, it is gone.
There will come a day when oil has more value for chemical feedstock and lubricants.
For things made of plastic, polymers and so forth.
These and lubricants are recyclable. And they create no carbon dioxide nor contribute to global warming.
(Granted, the plastic trash vortex in the Pacific Ocean is horrific enough.)
Imagine a scene a hundred years in the future. "Can you imagine they used to burn oil?"
They'll think we were crazy. We are. Burning oil is destroying the planet.
We need to begin a mobilization effort on the scale that America managed in WWII to defeat Fascism.
We need to push new technologies, renewables, electric cars, and replace burning petroleum.
We need to consider petroleum a valuable natural resource of which we have a "savings acount" in the ground.
Thus our children and grandchildren will have sufficient resources for their needs.
We must consider oil left in the ground more valuable than burning it.
First, from a scientific standpoint in the fight against climate change and global warming
and secondly, from a perspective of a valuable resource for future generations to be marshalled out as needed.
The Nation magazine had an excellent article comparing the reserves of the oil companies
to the ownershjp of other human beings by plantation owners prior to the Civil war.
The capital value of southern slaves exceeded the capitalization of all the northern banks combined.
Plantation owners were not going to give up that capital without a fight- hence the bloodiest conflict in American history.
Similarly, the oil companies are not going to give up their capital without a fight of similar scale
or barring that- continued illegal control of the political mechanism via money and bought politicians.
Therefore, it is necessary to face a political reality and work WITH the oil companies to figure out
some manner to get them to more sparingly use their reserves.
Some stimuli or tax credits to substitute renewable energy for decreased oil extraction.
Sort of a carbon credit on steroids.
Make it lucrative enough they willingly find ways to keep the oil in their "savings account".
Compare it to interest on savings.
Add a stick to the measure whereby they must return a portion of their "interest" when they do pump that earmarked oil.
We may get further by facing reality and cooperating on some level with Big Oil.
Of course, they would have to commit to an understanding that oil reserves on Federal land belong to the people.
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