The talk on “Fracking” given by Roy McGurn was both enjoyable and controversial. He commenced by talking about the “Spindletop” oilfield in Texas that was discovered on top of a salt dome in 1901. This marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry and had an enormous effect on world history and revolutionised industry and transport.

“Fracking” is a process that combines two technologies, hydraulic fracturing and direct drilling and is used to extract natural gas or oil from deep reserves below ground. The process allows energy companies to access previously unavailable energy sources. During the process water is mixed with sand and chemicals and the resultant mixture is injected, at high pressure, into a wellbore. This produces fractures in the deep rock formations along which the gas can migrate. The first experimental use of this method was in 1947 and commercially used in 1949 so it is not a new technology.

The method has huge potential benefits for energy but also has many environmental and health related consequences. It was these aspects that led to long debate at the end of his talk.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday 17th June when Bill Bagley will hold an evening looking at minerals.