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Fracking the World: Energy Companies Set Their Sights Globally

Africa, Latin America may see biggest growth in fracking

Common Dreams staff

screengrab from the trailer for the film 'Gasland'

While the drilling technique known as fracking has primarily occurred in North America, energy companies are now setting their sites far and wide to extend its use across the globe.  The U.S. can expext to see even more fracking in the near future.

The energy news service Platts reports:

And although the US and Canada comprise the largest chunk of the hydraulic fracturing market by far -- just shy of 90% -- activity in other markets is expected to rise over the next several years, Richard Spears, vice president of oilfield consultants Spears & Associates, said during a Credit Suisse conference call about the hydraulic fracturing market. "If that international piece is $4 billion, $5 billion [in 2011], I think five years from now it grows to $10 billion," Spears said. Areas likely to show the biggest growth globally are Latin America, particularly Argentina, where shale drilling has gotten off to a running start, and parts of Africa. "Argentina sounds, looks and smells very much like West Texas," said Spears, adding Latin America currently accounts for $1.7 billion/year of fracturing revenues.

Meanwhile, the consultant projected that horizontal drilling -- most commonly used in shale and unconventional plays -- in the US would rise nearly 16% this year to around 18,600 wells, up from 16,100 last year and 12,225 wells in 2010.

Concerns of earthquakes in Ohio and the UK, well blowouts and water contamination following fracking operations have not deterred most companies' plans. Platts continues:

"Of the 15 frac companies I've visited with in the last three months, [just] one is cautious" about adding capacity this year, he said, while the rest are adding capacity at about the same pace as they did last year.

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