All About Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is used by oil and gas companies to stimulate oil and natural gas reservoirs.

  • First, companies drill down to sedimentary rock formations known as shale, which are typically found hundreds or even thousands of metres below the surface and any underground drinking water supplies.
  • Then, the drill pipe is directed out horizontally, usually about a thousand additional metres.
  • A mixture of 99.5 percent water and sand, with some additives, is then injected under very high pressure to crack open, or ‘fracture,’ the surrounding shale.
  • High pressure at that depth forces natural gas, which is trapped in the shale, into the fractures, which then flows into the pipe. The gas then travels back to the surface of the well, where it is safely captured and then shipped to processing plants.
  • Fluids used during this process are taken to waste water facilities, where they are treated. These fluids are also tightly regulated by Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs (MDDEP).

History of Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing has been used in Canada for decades.  It was first completed in the Cardium oil field in western Canada in the 1950s, and since then it has been used in thousands of wells throughout the country to safely produce oil and natural gas.

Hydraulic fracturing has also been used in Quebec for many years, most notably as a component in drilling water wells. For example, companies in Quebec use hydraulic fracturing in numerous communities in the Outaouais and the Laurentians for commercial artesian well drilling services.

To access Quebec’s shale gas deposits, hydraulic fracturing will be used in the St. Lawrence River Basin, principally between Quebec City and Montreal.