Hydraulic fracturing accounts for about half of the crude-oil production in the U.S., the Energy Information Administration said in a report Tuesday.
Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, involves using a mix of water, sand, and other additives to coax oil and gas from dense rock formations, and has unlocked huge oil and gas deposits previously trapped in shale rock.
The technique has been around for more than 60 years, but only recently has been used to produce a significant portion of oil in the country, the EIA said.
By 2015, the number of hydraulically-fractured wells grew to an estimated 300,000, and production from those wells grew to more than 4.3 million barrels a day, the government agency reported, using well completion and production data from DrillingInfo and IHS Global Insight. That output makes up about 50% of the country’s total oil output.
Shale production had helped the U.S. surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world’s largest producer of oil in 2014, according to Platts. But the output growth contributed to a glut of oil supplies– and a slump in prices that saw the U.S. benchmark fall more than 70% from its mid-2014 peak.