Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a well completion technology that has been safely used in the Illinois Basin since the 1950s to maximize oil production. Fracking occurs after drilling has been completed and involves pumping fluid — typically 99 percent water and sand, with an additional mixture of chemical additives — into the target formation at pressure in order to open up small fractures and allow oil and gas to flow through the rock.

In recent years, fracking has been coupled with horizontal drilling to develop oil and natural gas resources from tight rock formations in several regions of the United States, propelling the United States to the status of being the world’s top crude oil and natural gas producer. For more on the high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing, see the following Energy In Depth video.

Although Illinois has significant potential for New Albany shale development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing technologies, such technologies have not been employed in the state thus far. However, hydraulic fracturing remains a critical component to the conventional vertical well development that has been taking place in the state for more than a century.

See the following Oklahoma Education Resources Board video for an illustration of the vertical hydraulic fracturing process that is conducted in Illinois.