Utah leading the way in responsible hydraulic fracturing

Feb 21 2013 - 5:31pm


The Standard-Examiner Editorial Board recently addressed the potential of hydraulic fracturing and other technology to develop Utah's enormous energy resources in "Our View: The Fracking Future" (Feb. 12). The Utah Office of Energy Development applauds the board's insightful discussion of the crucial role energy development plays in driving a better future for our state and nation.  

Hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" produces fractures in rock formations by pressurized fluid. Approximately 90 percent of Utah's oil and gas wells utilize hydraulic fracturing to increase output. Hydraulic fracturing has contributed to a dramatic increase in oil and gas production in Utah over the past decade, which in turn has produced valuable revenues and jobs for the state. Energy development contributes nearly $5 billion annually to Utah's economy and energy jobs pay nearly twice the state average.  

Surprisingly, the best is yet to come. Shale oil and gas reservoirs in Utah have a tremendous untapped potential. For example, gas production in the Uintah Basin could be enhanced greatly through development of the Mancos Shale. Fortunately, Utah is leading the way with smart regulation and resources to ensure that hydraulic fracturing and other development tools are used responsibly.  Although there has never been an instance of hydraulic fracturing fluids polluting Utah's waters, the state has responded pro-actively to public concerns through the recently-passed hydraulic fracturing disclosure rule. Also, the Utah Geologic Survey is currently conducting an extensive study of Utah's shale resources. The state is also supporting world-class energy research at its universities. In fact, one of the world's premier research institutes for shale oil and gas is right here in Utah, the University of Utah's Energy and Geoscience Institute.

The state is deploying the same formula for success to develop its vast oil shale and oil sand resources, which contain well over a trillion barrels of oil. Oil shale and sands refer to hydrocarbon resources that are chemically trapped, and can be distinguished from shale oil and gas, which refer to hydrocarbon resources physically trapped in shale. Regardless of the resource, Utah is doing the right things to ensure a very bright energy future.

Cody Stewart

Energy advisor

Office of the governor

Salt Lake city


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