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Natural gas in Oklahoma: We will frack you

Cleaner than it looks

A PRAIRIE wind whips the flags that fly from a Chesapeake Energy rig near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, but the noise of the drill drowns out the weather. A clutch of roughnecks, smudged with dirt and tattoos, are coring the earth, bringing up a little slice from the shale formation below. If the tests prove promising, the well will be hydraulically fractured or “fracked”.That process is transforming the natural-gas industry. Ten years ago virtually all of America’s natural-gas production came from traditional gas or oil wells reached by vertical drills. But companies were learning how to drill horizontal wells and how to use high-pressure water to break up the shale formations to release the gas inside. Such techniques have become increasingly cost-effective as companies have got more practice. In 2009, according to the Energy Information Administration, about 14% of America’s natural gas came from shale. By 2035 that is projected to rise to 46%. At the current rate of consumption, between shale and the conventional sources, the United States could have enough natural…

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