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Fracking: Minimizing the Risk


This thesis analyses the environmental impact and geomechanical conditions for successful and sustainable hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Fracking increases reservoir contact by increasing downhole surface area. However, this increase comes with drawbacks, as there have been reports of increased Previous HitseismicityNext Hit and of groundwater contamination associated with fracking. My work suggests that in Alberta (Canada), Previous HitinducedNext Hit seismic events attributed to hydrocarbon extraction are rare, and that Previous HitseismicityTop associated with fracking does not pose a high risk to public safety. Fracking fluids contain carcinogenic compounds, which could have long-lasting effects if they come in contact with the water table. This study determined the causes of contamination are equipment failure, fracking too close to the water table, produced water leakage and inability to predict the fracture half-length and direction of the frac's. However, when the principle stresses, reservoir permeabilities, and fluid-loss characteristics are known, and a sound geologic model of the reservoir has been developed, the negative effects from fracking can be mitigated.