The media are covering hydraulic fracturing in shale plays like never before, getting people all worried about their drinking water aquifers and spawning new regulations that will only serve to make it more costly and difficult for us to do business in unconventional gas fields.
In many of these recent articles, I have seen the word “fracing” used. This word would be pronounced FRAY-sing in English. If the writer really meant to use a shorthand for the word “fracturing,” the proper way to spell it would be “fracking,” adding a K to the end to cause the prior vowel to have a short A sound, rather than a long A sound. This same convention is used when politicking, which is what many of the northeastern US leaders are doing when their constituents are faced with fracking in their back yards.
I am opposed to using either “fracing” or “fracking” in any kind of writing for several reasons:
1) The whole word “fracturing” is not so dad-gum long that it needs an abbreviation. Put three more letters in it, then you won’t need to use a whole sentence to explain that fracing or fracking means hydraulic fracturing.
2) Writing is supposed to be a tad more formal than talking around the coffee pot.
3) Having fracturing experts using slang like that with the public makes them sound like oilfield trash, not the high-tech scientists and engineers they really are.
I am hoping that our industry will use some whiz-bang technology like 3D visualization to put the public’s fracturing fears to rest. If folks could attend a town hall meeting and see how microseismic sensing shows exactly where the fractures are forming – and how far away they are from their drinking water zone – not only will they be reassured, but they might also be impressed with our high-tech tools and methods. They might even come to the conclusion that hydraulic fracturing really is all it’s cracked up to be!