New technology may change fracking debate

New technology may change the face of hydraulic fracturing – and it couldn’t come at a better time. Amidst heated debates across the country regarding hydraulic fracturing, waterless hydraulic fracturing claims to offer oil and gas companies an alternative to traditional hydraulic fracturing that is environmentally friendly and cost-effective.

GasFrac, a Calgary-based company, is paving the way with a technique to fracture wells using LPG, short for liquid petroleum gas. LPG uses a mixture of propane that’s pressurized to make a gel. This gel is then injected into the rock formations like traditional hydraulic fracturing is done to break apart the shale and allow the trapped oil and gas below the earth to surface.

The benefits of using LPG is that instead of using millions of gallons of water to break apart the shale, which then have to return to the surface including the small percentage of chemicals added to boost the productivity, the propane will revert to a vapor while underground, which can then be collected when it comes to the surface.

While GasFrac is reported to charge a high premium for its services – something close to 50 percent – producers who have used the technology in states such as Texas, Colorado and Canada say it is worth it based on the money saved from not having to purchase, transport and truck all the water needed to fracture the wells, and then by not having to dispose of all the chemically-laden flow back water that returns to the surface once a well has been fracked.

By the end of the month, two test wells in northern Ohio in the Utica Shale are expected to be drilled and fractured using LPG, as some producers aren’t convinced water is necessary to extract from the Utica Shale.

The technique could also prove to be a boon for drillers in Tioga County, New York, where a moratorium has been in effect on hydraulic fracturing since 2010. A planned drilling site is expected to use LPG to fracture the well.

But, like anything else in the oil and gas industry, these new technology is not met without opposition from environmentalists who claim that while it may stop potential water pollution, it will instead create a greater threat with a high risk of explosions.

More than 1,200 wells have been drilled with GasFrac since its introduction to the oil and gas world with favorable results. With the rest of the country watching to see how these wells on out on the East Coast, it could soon turn this debate on a head.

What do you think of LPG technology? Would it benefit your company and be cost-effective and more safe for the environment?

Source: SherWare Blog


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