The term ‘Fracking’ has recently been seen in UK headlines and reported in the news after protests took place in the village of Balcombe in West Sussex.  Until recently, fracking was a term that not many people were familiar with – and there are different theories on the pro’s and con’s of fracking.  Here we investigate the 5 W’s of fracking.

Who is fracking?

Almost half of the world’s fracking is being carried out in North America. Other countries that the technique include the Netherlands, Poland and China.  However it is banned in a number of countries including France and Bulgaria.

What is fracking?

Fracking is a shortened term for Hydraulic Fracturing.  It is a technique which involves mixing chemicals, sand and water and injecting it at a high pressure into rocks, below the earth’s surface.  This creates tiny fractures in the rocks, often less than 1mm in width, which allows fluids such as shale gas and petroleum to migrate to the well.   Fracking has been commercially carried out since 1949, and there are more than 1 million Gas and Oil wells in North America using the technique.

Where and when is fracking taking place in the UK?

Fracking is not currently taking place in the UK; however it has previously taken place in Lancashire, near Blackpool and was put on hold after some earth tremors were observed. The protestors in Balcombe, West Sussex fear that fracking will take place there. To date, it has yet to be decided if fracking will be allowed to take place at this location

Why are they fracking?

As mentioned earlier, fracking techniques are being used across the United States, where the cost of energy has dropped substantially, mainly due to fracking. In the UK it has been estimated that shale gas resources could be up to 50% larger than conventional gas resources, which could benefit the local economy through royalty payments and an estimated 70,000 jobs could be created. It could allow the UK to become increasingly energy self sufficient and not have to rely heavily on foreign countries for energy.  The impact of implementing this technique on the whole economy could be substantial.

Why are people protesting?

  • Each well requires a large number of tankers to bring supplies to the site
  • It can take between 1 -8 million litres of water to complete a fracking well
  • Nearby ground water can become contaminated with chemicals
  • There are fears that fracking can cause minor earthquakes and damage the environment


Final thoughts


No matter which way you look at it, fracking seems like it will be an issue that will be in the headlines for a long time to come.