Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Pollution
Investor risks from North America’s shale gas boom
North America’s vast shale natural gas resources promise to become a game-changing resource for the coming decades. A wave of drilling has uncovered enormous supplies of natural gas embedded in shale rock deep below the Earth’s surface, which thanks to new technologies can now be recovered in a cost-effective manner.
According to some estimates, shale gas recoverable in North America alone would be enough to supply the United States’ natural-gas needs for the next 45 years. North America’s shale gas resources are extremely appealing because they produce considerably fewer greenhouse gases than both oil and coal and will enable the U.S. and other Western countries to become less dependent on the Middle East for oil, and on natural gas imports from countries such as Russia and Venezuela.
Shale gas extraction presents risks, however, and there is growing concern over claims that hydraulic fracturing fluids used in the extraction process are polluting underground sources of drinking water with toxic chemicals. As companies prepare to drastically intensify shale gas extraction in Canada and the U.S., investors need to look into the risks that the extraction process presents, and the steps they can take to mitigate them.