Frequently Asked Questions

Use the toggles below to expand and reveal the answer to each question.

What is fracking?
Fracking is a way to extract oil and gas from the Earth. It uses unconventional techniques, such as horizontal drilling and high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, to access oil and gas reserves that conventional techniques can’t access. The exact definition varies by state. Two other types of unconventional oil and gas development that are similar to fracking are matrix acidizing and high-pressure steam injection.
What is the petrochemical industry?
The petrochemical industry manufactures various products – such as plastic, synthetic rubber, fertilizer, explosives and adhesives – from oil and gas. The two biggest products this industry produces are plastics and fertilizers, and these products are now driving oil and gas production.
How are fracking and the petrochemical industry and plastic connected?
Fracking has opened up access to vast reserves of oil and gas, as well as natural gas liquids (such as ethane, propane, and butane). Natural gas liquids are the feedstock of the petrochemical industry, which converts them into products like plastic. Many companies that extract and/or process and transport oil and gas, such as Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, also produce petrochemicals.
What is an ethane cracker?
An ethane cracker transforms ethane (part of the natural gas stream) into plastic. The cracker does this by using extreme heat to “crack” the molecular bonds in ethane to form ethylene. Ethylene is transformed into polyethylene pellets, and these small plastic pellets (think of the inside of a bean bag) are shipped to various facilities in the U.S. or abroad to form plastic products like bags and wrappers.
What is LNG?
LNG stands for Liquefied Natural Gas. Natural gas is liquefied before it is shipped abroad so it takes up less space.