Sustainable Fracking

As industry taps unconventional energy resources, DOE can help identify and mitigate risks of new extraction approaches. For example, recovery of the vast unconventional fossil fuel resources in the Mountain West will require significant amounts of water. Extraction in the rapidly expanding Bakken Formation relies heavily on hydraulic fracturing, which raises concerns about artesian aquifers that have historically supported grazing and agriculture. An LDRD project aims to address these risks as Bakken extraction proceeds westward. It is evaluating the water needs for the eastern Montana Bakken development, characterizing groundwater resources, identifying key areas where development may be water-limited and developing an approach for optimizing water usage. Incorporating water impacts into drilling plan designs may reduce negative water impacts to manageable levels.