A technology with a strange name is set to re-ignite in Brazil, this October, a controversy that is already inflamed in the United States and in Europe. It is about fracking. You may not know what it is, but you are against it.

“Fracking” is the short name  for “hydraulic fracturing”, a technology used for the unconventional extraction of natural gas from shale rock, a sedimentary rock found in several places in the world. The presence of hydrocarbons in this type of rock has been known for several decades, but until 1990 nobody knew how to extract it.  Fracking has changed that scenario and wants to give a long life to the reign of fossil fuels.


In order to extract this gas, deep drilling of the soil is needed, then pipelines are inserted to go through water tables in order to reach the rock. Between 7 and 15 million liters of water can go through these pipelines. For each operation, water, sand and more than 600 chemical substances – some highly toxic – are injected at very high pressure to fracture (“frack”) the rock, thus releasing the gas. In the US, fracking has created disputes over the use of water. In Brazil it will not be different.

However, the problems caused by fracking go far beyond water disputes. In countries where fracking takes place – China, Canada, United States and Argentina – there are reports of contamination of water tables, leakage of methane to artesian wells and, in places in the USA where this technology is used to extract oil, air pollution is also a problem. For Brazil, there is an inherent risk of contamination due to the geological layout: the main gas repositories lay in a rock layer in the Parana Basin beneath the rocks that hold the Guarani Aquifer, the largest in the world.

Some studies have also shown regular leaks of methane gas into wells. This makes the natural gas produced by fracking an aggravating factor for climate change and not the “clean” fossil fuel that its proponents insist that it is.

Fracking involves so many risks that in Lancashire, in the United Kingdom, the population has pressed the authorities, achieving the  banning of exploratory testing. In the United States, the state of New York has officially prohibited fracking, and Oklahoma, after an increase in earthquakes caused by the fracturing of wells – 35 over just eight days last June – is getting ready to toughen up its legislation.

Although it is does not appear in its 10-Year Energy Plan drawn in 2013, the Brazilian government considers fracking an “alternative energy” and is committed to develop this technology in the country without first opening a proper public debate.

That is why, since 2013 Coesus – Coalizão Não Fracking Brasil (No Fracking Brazil Coalition), of which 350.org is a member and national coordinator, has been conducting a heavy campaign that has culminated in the suspension, through legal action, of the 12th Bidding Round of 240 blocks for the exploration of shale gas by the National Petroleum and Natural Gas Agency (ANP) in December 2013.

For this year, ANP has announced that it is going to auction 269 more blocks on the October 7. For the 13th bidding round there are blocks right on the Serra Geral and Guarani aquifers of Paraná and São Paulo.

To anyone with common sense, the federal government’s decision is wrongful, dangerous and one that puts the future of the country at risk. Brazil does not need fracking. The country has plenty of natural resources to ensure the generation of clean and renewable energy, the forefront of low carbon economies.

The Coalizão Não Fracking Brasil is calling International groups and fracktivists to show the Brazilian government that there is a global movement united against fracking, by protesting in front of Brazilian Embassies, Petrobras offices or any other fossil industry interested in fracking in Brazil. This International Solidarity Day will be held on October 4th, the weekend before the auction of new fracking blocks.

Learn about the actions of this campaign at the website:


You can also organize an event supporting No Fracking Brazil and publish it at:


Nicole Figueiredo de Oliveira is the director of 350.org Brazil

This article was originally published in Portuguese on:  https://epoca.globo.com/colunas-e-blogs/blog-do-planeta/noticia/2015/09/voce-ainda-nao-sabe-mas-e-contra-o-fracking.html
Tradução: Eliana Furlaneto de Macedo

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