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The Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks

The Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks

In the climactic final scene in There Will Be Blood — arguably the greatest movie about the oil industry — the main character played by Daniel Day Lewis explains how he sucked the oil from a neighbor’s land by using horizontal drilling. To help his neighbor understand what has happened, he explains it by saying he took a very long straw and “Drank your milkshake!”

Well guess what is happening with the fracking revolution that is built on the concept of horizontal drilling? Not only are oil producers drinking each other’s milkshakes, they are drinking their own, and in the process losing even more money and raising the odds of dangerous environmental risks.

And unlike in the movie where the main character knew what he was doing, the modern fracking industry really has no clue what to do about the problems caused by the combination of horizontal drilling and greed.

Frac Hits, aka Child Wells

The first thing to understand is that this is simply a problem of the industry being greedy. The oil producers are drilling too many wells in close proximity to one another, and when they frack the newer wells — known as child wells — those “bash” or “hit” the older wells and cause problems.

In a typical frack site, the production begins with a first test well, which is known as the parent well. The wells drilled in proximity to the parent well are called child wells.

What is happening is that not only are the child wells cannibalizing the production of the existing parent well, but when the child wells are fracked they can create “frac hits” that damage the parent well.

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