We tell you what hydraulic fracturing is, a Latin American country that is implementing, and two that will do it
With the passage of time, it has become more frequent to hear about the extraction of oil and gas through fracking. According to El Economista, this innovative technique brought the United States out of recession and made it the leading producer of oil as it approaches energy independence. According to the International Energy Agency, the American giant would be energetically independent by 2035.
Leer en español: Todo lo que debes saber del fracking en Latinoamérica
This method has gained acceptance in different nations because finding conventional deposits has become a difficult task. Given the reduction of traditional deposits, governments see fracking as an alternative that would guarantee oil and gas reserves to cover their energy matrices.
What is fracking?
The BBC explains that this technique, also known as hydraulic fracturing, "allows the extraction of so-called shale gas, a type of unconventional hydrocarbon that is literally trapped in layers of rock, at a great depth."
BBC adds that "after drilling until reaching the shale rock, large amounts of water are injected at high pressure with chemical additives and sand to fracture the rock and release the gas, methane. When the gas begins to flow back it does so with part of the fluid injected at high pressure".
Not everything is rosy
Fracking generates different risks. In the article, When we make the earth tremble LatinAmerican Post had pointed out that the execution of fracking can cause tremors and large-scale earthquakes due to the tension to which failures from where the oil or gas is extracted.
The BBC for its part recorded that among the risks there is possible contamination of the water with the chemicals used in the process. The British media highlights that "it is a technique whose long-term impact is still unknown and could be dangerous for the environment due to the magnitude of the force used, the amount of water required, and the presence of toxic substances on the floor."
This is how fracking advances in LATAM
Argentina is the first Latin American country to apply this technique. According to the Argentina Free Fracking portal, hydraulic fracturing has been carried out for two years. This page highlights that fracking has taken place in Neuquén and Río Negro. Soon, there will be fracturing in the provinces of Salta and Mendoza.
According to the newspaper Los Tiempos, "the Observatorio Petrolero del Sur notes that Argentina becomes the beachhead of fracking in Latin America, not only with the purpose of guaranteeing unconventional cheap gas to its population, but also of exporting it at the cost of high socio-environmental risks that have displaced several indigenous communities from their territories. "
On August 1 of this year, Colombia Free Fracking Alliance established a bill with the objective of prohibiting fracking in the coffee nation. In a statement, the alliance, composed of different groups and collectives, explains that "it seeks to establish a legal framework for the comprehensive protection of the most vulnerable territories that require the recognition of the principles of precaution, prevention, progressivity and non-regression, prevention the risk and maximization of water efficiency and prioritization for life, as well as the need to initiate the process of energy transition to overcome the situation of risk of irreversible damage to nature, the effects on public health and the lack of guarantee of human rights in the territories where this extractivist industry would develop".
It may interest you: The slow but incessant decline of glaciers in Colombia
However, María Fernanda Suárez, Minister of Mines of the government of Iván Duque, will bet on this controversial technique to obtain reserves of gas and oil. According to Suarez, using this technique will increase the reserve and will stop depending on conventional methods.
During the election campaign, the current president, Iván Duque, assured that he would not implement this technique to obtain resources. Now, the country is waiting for how this situation will develop.
So far it is not known if fracking will be implemented or not in Bolivia. According to the Minister of Hydrocarbons, Luis Sanchéz, until the results of a study to determine the potential of unconventional gas are given, it will not be known if the application of this technique is adequate and profitable.
According to the newspaper Los Tiempos, Sánchez minimized the impacts that fracking can bring and highlighted the benefits that have been in the United States and Argentina. In statements collected by the same media, the minister said that "the Institute of Argentine Oil and Gas says that the exploitation of unconventional gas has no environmental impact."
This country, like Colombia, is waiting for what may happen.
LatinAmerican Post | Marcela Peñaloza
Translated from “Todo lo que debes saber del fracking en Latinoamérica”