Hydraulic fracturing has already revolutionized the oil and gas industry in the United States, and is set for strong growth in markets around the world over the coming years. With the technology poised to be expanded in several countries, the hydraulic fracturing market is estimated to grow from a value of $41.5 billion in 2014 to around $72.6 billion by 2019, recording a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 11.8%.
According to MarketsandMarkets, the increase in demand for natural gas and oil is driving the need for fracturing activities and investments. As onshore and shallow water fields become depleted, oil companies have turned their focus to deep water and unconventional onshore areas where production relies on hydraulic fracturing techniques.
This is not without controversy, however. The high water usage, water contamination, possible link with seismic activity and other environmental concerns associated with fracking are seen as major restraints to the market in some regions.
A new report published yesterday by Friends of the Earth Europe highlights these concerns. The environmental group said its research shows how fracking is likely to further accelerate climate change, destroy water sources and infringe on communities' rights worldwide unless urgent action is taken to stop what it called the "dash-for-gas."
The report claimed that multinational oil and gas companies are moving into earthquake-prone or water-scarce regions in Latin America, Africa and Asia where the ecosystems, communities and authorities are ill-equipped to cope with the impacts of extraction.
At the United Nations climate talks in Peru this week, Friends of the Earth Europe hopes that the European Union and governments of other developed countries will make meaningful commitments to speed up the transition away from fossil fuels.
Unless governments make significant policy changes against hydraulic fracturing and in favour of renewable energy, the recovery of resources through fracking is expected to increase.