Mexico energy officials said Chihuahua and three other northern border states are ripe for fracking, a controversial and widespread method that is used to extract shale gas and oil from the ground.
Pemex (Petroleos Mexicanos), the state-owned oil company, previously identified Tamaulipas, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon, in addition to Chihuahua, as the states where fracking could be used to obtain new energy sources. The other Mexican states officials identified are Puebla, Oaxaca and Veracruz.
Mexican officials said Pemex has drilled nearly 30 exploratory wells along the border with Texas, near Ojinaga and Presidio. In Texas, fracking is taking place in the Eagle Ford oil field that straddles the border with Mexico.
According to the Texas Railroad Commission, the oil and shale gas field is about 50 miles wide and 400 miles long and has an average thickness of 250 feet. Eagle Ford is a rich energy source that is responsible for creating new jobs in Texas.
Fracking refers to hydraulic fracturing, or the use of water pressure to create fractures in rock that allows the oil and natural gas to escape and flow out of a well, according to www.energyfromshale.org, an industry-sponsored site.
Critics say the process requires huge amounts of water and may be linked to spikes in small earthquakes.
Aaron Velasco, a professor with UTEP’s Department of Geological Sciences and an expert on earthquakes and volcanoes, said not enough is known about the effects of fracking to be able to link this method to earthquakes that are big enough to cause serious damage or injury.
“Earthquakes can be caused naturally or by activities that induce seismic activity,” Velasco said. “For example, you can have an earthquake when building a dam and have a large body of water sitting on top of the ground. You can have mild seismic activity from extracting substances from the ground or pumping fluids into the ground.