Raton Basin
Hydraulic Fracturing



Hydraulic fracturing, also commonly called fracing, is a proven process which has been used in the U.S. since 1949.  Advances in this technology have allowed the U.S. to increase production of natural gas.  Use of natural gas reduces carbon dioxide emissions and particulate pollution, and it decreases our reliance on imported fuel.  Developing the natural gas held in coal beds helps address America's energy needs and supports its economic renewal.

What is Hydraulic Fracturing?

Fracing is the process of creating fissures in underground formations to allow natural gas to flow.  In the Raton Basin, fracing occurs in coal beds up to 3,500 feet deep, releasing a natural gas commonly referred to as coal bed methane (CBM).  During fracing, water, nitrogen, sand and several additives are pumped under pressure into coal beds to create fractures.

CBM Well Diagram and Raton Basin Geology

CBM Well

Useful Links

COGCC Website

The COGCC website contains links to several documents that cover hydraulic fracturing in more details.  Two documents in particular provide an overview of hydraulic fracturing.  The COGCC Presentation on Hydraulic Fracturing describes the purpose for hydraulic fracturing, relevant regulations, an engineering overview of the process, environmental and groundwater protection, and inspection procedures and complaints.  The Response of the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission to the STRONGER Hydraulic Fracturing Questionnaire presents several environmental questions related to fracturing along with the COGCC's responses on steps they have taken or are undertaking to mitigate some of these issues.

The COGCC website also has several additional links to other websites related to hydraulic fracturing including COGCC rules, hydraulic fracturing chemical registry information, material data sheets, and chemicals used by fracturing companies.

COGA Hydraulic Fracturing Whitepaper

http://www.coga.org/pdfs_facts/Hydraulic Fracturing 4.pdf

The COGA whitepaper reviews some common questions and answers regarding hydraulic fracturing.  The whitepaper also summarizes more technical elements with a discussion on what is involved in drilling and what is involved in hydraulic fracturing since often times people confuse the entire drilling process with hydraulic fracturing.  The whitepaper also discusses some concerns with fracturing fluids.  A brief summary of the frac act along with details on regulatory oversight are included in the whitepaper.

COGA Presentation on Hydraulic Fracturing

Power Point Presentation

On January 31st, 2012, Travis Lee with the Colorado Oil and Gas Association presented on hydraulic fracturing at the Action 22 Water Summit in Pueblo, Colorado.  A copy of his presentation is found above.

COGA Fast Facts

The COGA website has several links to Fast Facts sheets that provide summaries about several topies including economic benefits of the oil & gas industry; produced water; Colorado Clean Air, Clean Jobs Act; the COGA organization, and hydraulic fracturing and disclosure in Colorado.  Links to these fact sheets are listed below.

Economic Benefits of the Oil & Gas Industry Fast Facts:  http://www.coga.org/FactSheets/FactSheetSocioeconomic.pdf

Produced Water Fast Facts:  http://www.coga.org/pdfs_facts/produced_water_fastfacts.pdf

Colorado Clean Air, Clean Jobs Acts Fast Facts:  http://www.coga.org/pdfs_facts/Clean%20Air%20Clean%20Jobs.pdf

Hydraulic Fracturing and Disclosure in Colorado Fast Facts:  http://www.coga.org/pdfs_facts/Hydraulic%20Fracturing%20Disclosure.pdf

Water Use Fast Facts:  http://www.coga.org/COGAContent/WaterUseFF.pdf

Frac Focus Website


The Frac Focus website is a hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website.  The Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission are the two groups responsible for the joint website project.  Visitors to the site can search for information about the chemicals used by oil and gas companies in hydraulic fracturing.  There is also a section on groundwater protection as well as information on hydraulic fracturing regulations by state.

NGWA Information Brief

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracing, has captured headlines in areas where gas development is occurring.  A 2004 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study of hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane reservoirs found little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water.  Currently, the U.S. EPA is studying whether fracing adversely affects groundwater quality as the practice expands rapidly into other types of geologic formations, particularly shales.  Preliminary results from this study are expected in late 2012.

The following National Ground Water Association (NGWA) information brief encourages water well owners to regularly test the water quality of their well water and provides a list of constituents to test for in areas of oil or gas development. 

EPA Fracing Page

The EPA Fracing website provides some general background information on hydraulic fracturing along with a summary of regulations designed to protect drinking water.  The website also summarizes the EPA's Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan.  The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriation Conference Committee in its Fiscal Year 2010 budget report identified the need to study the impact of hydraulic fracturing on groundwater and drinking water.  The website also provides some questions and answers regarding the study. 

Chesapeake Energy Hydraulic Fracturing Video

The video below provides a brief overview of the hydraulic fracturing process and summarizes the steps from hydraulic fracturing to production stages.

Chesapeake Energy Horizontal Drilling Video

The video below provides a brief overview of the horizontal drilling and production process as well as the environmental protection steps taken to help protect groundwater and water wells.  Under the right economic conditions, such horizontal drilling might be employed in the Raton for development of the Pierre Shale.

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