Technology Advances Lead to “Greener” Hydraulic Fracturing

A somewhat technical, but informative article on how hydraulic fracturing technology is getting more environmentally friendly was recently published in Drilling Contractor. Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Schlumberger, Weatherford International, GasFrac Energy Services, Universal Well Services and Frac Tech Services went on the record with Drilling Contractor about the environmental aspects of hydraulic fracturing and “green” developments.

From the introduction of the article we see the critical role fracking plays in natural gas development:

According to Harold Brannon, pressure pumping senior advisor for Baker Hughes, fracturing is far and away the most efficient stimulation technique. Aside from its application in shales, hydraulic fracturing allows for drilling of fewer wells and can more effectively drain a given reservoir. Shales and most unconventional wells could not be successfully and economically produced without hydraulic fracturing stimulation.

“The US and North America in general is blessed with the most prolific shale formations on the planet,” he said. “Well stimulation makes the recoverable cost of hydrocarbons beyond what alternative energies can even approach. The cost is a fraction of what it is for nuclear, solar or wind.”

For those who question whether the hydraulic fracturing technique must be used at all, the answer is yes; it is the most common method used today to stimulate a well in tight sands, shale and coalbed methane. It is an economic way to improve productivity.

The size of the area drained by a hydraulically fractured well is larger than wells that are not stimulated by the process. And, according to the Independent Petroleum Association of America, fewer wells need to be drilled if hydraulic fracturing is used.

Service providers are anything but complacent about the process and have improved the technology to meet the needs of producers and address environmentalists’ concerns.*

The article interviews each company and reveals some of the new techniques and technologies they employ to reduce the amount of chemicals and water needed in fracking.

A hat tip to MDN reader Gary Czerkies for alerting us to the article.

*Drilling Contractor (May 4, 2011) – Technology advances push greener side of fracing