Hydraulic fracturing (fracking)

Hydraulic fracturing (often called fracking) is a technique that involves pumping a fluid consisting of water, sand and selected chemicals under high pressure into rock containing gas. The fluid creates narrow fractures in the rock and the sand grains hold the fracture open to provide a pathway for the gas to flow from the surroundings to the gas well for extraction.

In May 2015, the Victorian Government launched a Parliamentary Inquiry into unconventional gas exploration and extraction. This work has now concluded and the Inquiry into Unconventional Gas in Victoria report was tabled in Parliament on 8 December 2015.

The report will be thoroughly considered and will help inform the Government’s longer-term position on this important matter. While the Government considers its response to the report the hold, or moratorium, on new exploration licenses and tenements for onshore gas, hydraulic fracturing and exploration drilling will remain in place.

A ban on the addition of BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) chemicals in hydraulic fracturing fluids has been legislated.

In hydraulic fracturing, cement and casing is used to isolate overlying intervals. Water, sand and selected chemicals are injected under high pressure. The mixture is forced through perforations and creates millimetre scale fractures in the rock.

Diagram: hydraulic fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing diagram