Fracking, Part 2: Down the Borehole


There’s ample awe and much mystique
Around your well stimulation technique:
Down the borehole, past each seal
Through the pipe you laid with zeal
To that hydrocarbon lode you seek.

Parts 1 | 2

In fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, the borehole is the long vertical shaft that forces mostly silica (sand), water (up to 7 million gallons for a single well) and a proprietary cocktail of any of 500 other chemicals into the earth under intense pressures exceeding 8,000 psi. The borehole is sealed with cement at a number of junctures for stability and as a barrier to prevent aquifer contamination. Once the drill reaches the fractured shale formation, it is said to be in the injection layer. At this point, drilling proceeds horizontally at an average depth of 8,000 feet (1.5 miles) or 2,438 m (2.4 km). There’s an extended sexual metaphor here: “stimulation” and “borehole” should be obvious to even non-native speakers of English. The slang’s probably a little more difficult. “To lay pipe” means “to have sex.” Lode means “a rich source of something,” most often literally regarding ore extraction (mining), whereas load means “ejaculate,” usually in the slang phrase “to blow a load” or ejaculate. See also the Popular Mechanics article titled “Is Fracking Safe? The 10 Most Controversial Claims About Natural Gas Drilling.”

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