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Oil Fracking Grinds To Halt In Texas

The oil fracking boom in Texas has ground to nearly a complete halt. The problem? A lack of water, one of the fundamental problems with the supposed fracking solution.

Oil Fracking

Oil fracking is supposedly the savior of the world or at least the United States when it comes to the peak oil problem. Let’s be clear – fracking works. One just pumps toxic chemicals and water down into shale and rock formations to force the oil goop to come up high enough that it can be collected and processed. As is often the case with energy, this simple process has a ton of practical problems.

Water Shortages

The process if very water intensive. This is a problem since most of the United States is suffering from a lack of water. This is exactly what is happening in Texas now. The drought in the state is so bad that rationing has been started. Given this, the fracking companies sit low on the totem pole and many are being forced to shut down since there simply are not enough gallons of water around to make fracking possible.

Will things change soon? Probably not. Texas tends to go through sustained droughts and there is no indication the weather has anything in store for the state other than clear skies and hot temperatures.

Bigger Problem

The Texas water shortage points out two big problems with oil fracking. The first is that it is dependent on water supplies and water is the other natural resource that is becoming very precious. The competition between oil companies, farmers and people for water is going to be intense. In that battle, one can expect oil companies to lose out.

Even if oil companies can get enough water, the fracking solution is not the solution to the oil problem. People like to point to the fact that there are rumored to be billions of barrels of oil in these shale formations. While this is questionable at best, the real question is how much oil can be produced from them in a day. Oil fracking does not involve sticking a pipe in the ground and pumping the oil out. This is more akin to a huge industrial and mining effort.

To give you an example, the well established tar sand production efforts in Canada produce less than 3 million barrels of poor oil a day. The world consumes roughly 85 million a day and we are expected to lose more than 30 million barrels of production a day as major fields start to see production tail off like we see in Mexico and the North Sea at the moment.

Oil fracking is an interesting, if destructive and toxic, technology. Will it save us from our coming oil crisis? I think not.

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