There is no getting away from the fact that we are running out of oil, gas and coal. There is a finite supply of all three. It is predicted, by the Energy Information Association (EIA), that the oil supply will have run dry in roughly 41 years. If the world continues consuming roughly 53 million barrels of oil equivalent (BOE) of natural gas every day then current reserves will run out in 59 years. And coal, which at the moment is the most abundant fossil fuels, will have run out in 120 years if we continue using it at today’s rates. So with the human race consuming more and more energy what do we do about it?
One of the answers that have been provided is to get more natural gas through a process of horizontal drilling coupled with multi-stage hydraulic fracturing, more commonly referred to as fracking. Natural gas is extracted when a well is drilled downwards into shale; it then turns ninety degrees and continues horizontally for several thousand feet to an area that is believed to hold natural gas. A mix of water, sand, and various chemicals is then pumped into the well at high pressure in order to make cracks in the shale through which the gas can escape. The gas that then escapes is drawn back up the well to the surface, where it is processed and shipped to market. Wastewater returns to the surface after the fracking process is completed.
The process of fracking has its drawbacks in that it has been connected with the contamination of tap water in the US. This has resulted in people being able to place a match under their taps and have a flame erupt from it. As seen this youtube video;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEQMA0zwMM4. Regardless of this the process of fracking is being extended over the US and exported to France and the UK. In Lancashire where some small scale test drills took place fracking has been found, by an independent geological report as the ‘highly probable’ trigger of two minor earthquakes in 2011. The trials have since been stopped.
However this is not the biggest issue. The fact that we are still looking for that mystery supply of oil/natural gas/coal that will meet out energy needs for the next hundred years or so is more of a problem. More time, energy and money should be invested into renewable sources of energy instead of oil drills that can go round corners to get new oil or in pumping water and chemicals into the ground to get at gas we could never reach before. It does not even matter if the human race does find a huge reserve of fossil fuels because it will always be a finite supply and that is where the real problem lies. Looking for a quick fix is simply not the solution to the problem.