字幕表 動画を再生する 英語字幕をプリント Experts on energy, including oil and gas, say that solar and wind are the energy of the future. But while consumers wait for the future expansion of alternative energy, the fossil fuel industry is pushing for natural gas to be a bridge to that future. In the US, drillers are busily tapping gas as well as oil, from underground rocks known as shale in a process called hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking. But not everyone is convinced the transitional fossil fuel is all it's cracked up to be. Despite its benefits, fracking remains unpopular in many parts of the world, especially among climate activists and locals most affected by the process and with plummeting oil prices triggered by the coronavirus and Saudi Arabia's stand-off with Russia, the financial viability of shale is in jeopardy. Fracking is a fairly new process of natural gas extraction. First commercially introduced in 1949, it involves forcing water mixed with sand and chemicals into a well to create fissures in shale rock, so oil and gas trapped inside can escape. Advances in the 1980s in a technique called horizontal drilling opened up access to thin layers of shale even deeper underground. Over the past decade, US oil and gas output has surged 57%, mostly due to shale-rich areas, such as the Permian Basin, which stretches from Texas to New Mexico. America's recent energy dominance was meant to undercut Opex ability to manipulate the market, but in March of 2020, Russia triggered an oil war with Saudi Arabia, cratering global prices. The shale industry, which has higher production costs in places like Saudi Arabia and Russia and relies heavily on debt finance, was hit the hardest. Major shale operations, like Whiting Petroleum Corp and Diamondback, all but promised major job cuts and production halts after shares dropped 40 to 45% respectively. Adding to the recent woes, fracking remains highly controversial. It has become a huge target for climate activists who point to its damaging effects on the environment. A handful of European countries have effectively banned the practice due to its environmental impacts. Opponents cite an enormous amount of water needed in fracking. Depending on the shale deposits, it can take anywhere between 1.5 and 16 millions gallons to frack a well. Large though those numbers seem, a study by Duke University calculated that the water used in fracking makes up less than 1% of total industrial water use nationwide. There's also evidence that fracking, and more commonly, the pumping of resulting waste water into wells, triggers earthquakes. They've mostly been small, but one in 2016 in the oil rich state of Oklahoma shook homes and buildings across the state for almost an minute and measured 5.8 on the Richter Scale. Having an earthquake right now, our light's shaking quite a bit here and it's now calming down as another earthquake has just hit. Tremors in China's shale hub in Sichuan Province killed two people and damaged 11000 homes in February of 2019. There's no easy answer on fracking. No one can deny that shale has benefited the US economically, but now there are very real concerns about whether the fracking revolution is coming to a close. Defenders who continue to point to big-picture benefits, like job creation and energy independence, are now staring down the barrel of job cuts, scale backs and bankruptcies. Fracking opponents point to the climate warming methane in natural gas that sometimes escapes into the atmosphere before it gets burned, and reject industry claims that shale is a bridge fuel to a renewable future. Now faced with an increasingly hostile economic environment, in addition to longstanding opposition from environmental groups, the US shale industry faces a very uncertain future.