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Hydraulic fracturing: history of an enduring technology

Carl T. Montgomery and Michael B. Smith, NSI Technologies
Editor's note: In 2006, SPE honored nine pioneers of the hydraulic fracturing industry as Legends of
Hydraulic Fracturing. Claude E. Cooke Jr., Francis E. Dollarhide, Jacques L. Elbel, C. Robert Fast, Robert R. Hannah, Larry J. Harrington, Thomas K. Perkins, Mike Prats, and H.K. van Poollen were recognized as instrumental in developing new technologies and contributing to the advancement of the fi eld through their roles as researchers, consultants, instructors, and authors of ground-breaking journal articles. Following is an excerpt from SPE's new Legends of Hydraulic Fracturing CDROM, which contains an extended overview of the history of the technology, list of more than 150 technical papers published by these industry legends, personal refl ections from a number of the Legends and their colleagues, and historic photographs. For more information on the CDROM, please go to JPT DECEMBER 2010

ince Stanolind Oil introduced hydraulic S fracturing in 1949, close to 2.5 million fracture treatments have been performed worldwide. Some believe that approximately 60% of all wells drilled today are fractured. Fracture stimulation not only increases the production rate, but it is credited with adding to reserves—9 billion bbl of oil and more than 700 Tscf of gas added since 1949 to US reserves alone—which otherwise would have been uneconomical to develop. In addition, through accelerating production, net present value of reserves has increased. Fig. 2—On 17 March, 1949, Halliburton conducted the fi rst two commercial fracturing
Fracturing can be traced to treatments in Stephens County, Oklahoma, and Archer County, Texas.
the 1860s, when liquid (and later, solidifi ed) nitroglycerin (NG) was of creating a fracture that would not industry in a paper written by J.B. used to stimulate shallow, hard close completely because of acid Clark of Stanolind Oil. A patent was rock wells in Pennsylvania, New etching. This would leave a fl ow issued in 1949, with an exclusive York, Kentucky, and West Virginia. channel to the well and enhance license granted to the Halliburton Oil Although extremely hazardous, productivity. The phenomenon Well Cementing Company (Howco) and often used illegally, NG was was confi rmed in the fi eld, not to pump the new Hydrafrac process. spectacularly successful for oil well only with acid treatments, but also Howco performed the fi rst two "shooting." The object of shooting a during water injection and squeeze- commercial fracturing treatments— well was to break up, or rubblize, one, costing USD 900, in Stephens the oil-bearing formation to increase But it was not until Floyd Farris County, Oklahoma, and the other, both initial fl ow and ultimate of Stanolind Oil and Gas Corporation costing USD 1,000, in Archer recovery of oil. This same fracturing (Amoco) performed an in-depth County, Texas—on March 17, 1949, principle was soon applied with equal study to establish a relationship using lease crude oil or a blend of effectiveness to water and gas wells.
between observed well performance crude and gasoline, and 100 to 150 In the 1930s, the idea of injecting and treatment pressures that lbm of sand (Fig. 2). In the fi rst
a nonexplosive fl uid (acid) into the "formation breakdown" during year, 332 wells were treated, with ground to stimulate a well began acidizing, water injection, and an average production increase of to be tried. The "pressure parting" squeeze cementing became better 75%. Applications of the fracturing phenomenon was recognized in understood. From this work, Farris process grew rapidly and increased well-acidizing operations as a means conceived the idea of hydraulically the supply of oil in the United States fracturing a formation to enhance far beyond anything anticipated. production from oil and gas wells.
Treatments reached more than 3,000 The fi rst experimental treatment wells a month for stretches during to "Hydrafrac" a well for stimulation the mid-1950s. The fi rst one-half- was performed in the Hugoton gas million-pound fracturing job in the fi eld in Grant County, Kansas, in free world was performed in October 1947 by Stanolind Oil (Fig. 1). A
1968, by Pan American Petroleum total of 1,000 gal of naphthenic-acid- Corporation (later Amoco, now BP) and-palm-oil- (napalm-) thickened in Stephens County, Oklahoma. In gasoline was injected, followed by 2008, more than 50,000 frac stages Fig. 1—In 1947, Stanolind Oil conducted
a gel breaker, to stimulate a gas- were completed worldwide at a the fi rst experimental fracturing in the producing limestone formation at cost of anywhere between USD Hugoton fi eld located in southwestern 2,400 ft. Deliverability of the well did 10,000 and USD 6 million. It is now Kansas. The treatment utilized napalm not change appreciably, but it was a common to have from eight to as (gelled gasoline) and sand from the start. In 1948, the Hydrafrac process many as 40 frac stages in a single Arkansas River.
was introduced more widely to the well. Some estimate that hydraulic essential parallel development meant fewer pounds of gelling agent were required to obtain a desired viscosity. As more and more fracturing treatments have involved high-temperature wells, gel stabilizers have been developed, the fi rst of which was the use of approximately 5% methanol. Later, chemical stabilizers were developed that could be used alone or with the methanol. Improvements in crosslinkers and gelling agents have resulted in systems that permit the fl uid to reach the bottom of the hole in high-temperature wells prior to crosslinking, thus minimizing the effects of high shear in the tubing. Fig. 3—A 1955 frac pump manufacturing facility. These remotely controlled pumps were
Ultraclean gelling agents based on powered by 1,475 hp surplus Allison aircraft engines used during World War II. surfactant-association chemistry and encapsulated breaker systems that fracturing has increased US fi rst patent (US Patent 3058909) activate when the fracture closes recoverable reserves of oil by at least on guar crosslinked by borate was have been developed to minimize 30% and of gas by 90%.
issued to Loyd Kern with Arco fracture-conductivity damage. on October 16, 1962. One of the Fluids and Proppants
legends of hydraulic fracturing, Tom Perkins, was granted the fi rst patent Soon after the fi rst few jobs, the (US Patent 3163219) on December The fi rst fracturing treatment average fracture treatment consisted 29, 1964 on a borate gel breaker. used screened river sand as a of approximately 750 gal of fl uid and Surfactants were added to minimize proppant. Others that followed 400 lbm of sand. Today treatments emulsions with the formation fl uid, used construction sand sieved average approximately 60,000 gal of and potassium chloride was added through a window screen. There fl uid and 100,000 lbm of propping to minimize the effect on clays and have been a number of trends agent, with the largest treatments other water-sensitive formation in sand size, from very large to exceeding 1 million gal of fl uid and constituents. Later, other clay- small, but, from the beginning, a 5 million lbm of proppant. stabilizing agents were developed –20 +40 US-standard-mesh sand that enhanced the potassium has been the most popular, and chloride, permitting the use of water currently approximately 85% of the in a greater number of formations. sand used is this size. Numerous The fi rst fracture treatments were Other innovations, such as foams propping agents have been evaluated performed with a gelled crude. Later, and the addition of alcohol, have also throughout the years, including gelled kerosene was used. By the enhanced the use of water in more plastic pellets, steel shot, Indian latter part of 1952, a large portion of formations. Aqueous fl uids such as glass beads, aluminum pellets, high- fracturing treatments were performed acid, water, and brines are used now strength glass beads, rounded nut with refi ned and crude oils. These as the base fl uid in approximately shells, resin-coated sands, sintered fl uids were inexpensive, permitting 96% of all fracturing treatments bauxite, and fused zirconium. greater volumes at lower cost. Their employing a propping agent.
The concentration of sand lower viscosities exhibited less In the early 1970s, a major (lbm/fl uid gal) remained low until the friction than the original viscous innovation in fracturing fl uids was mid-1960s, when viscous fl uids such gel. Thus, injection rates could be the use of metal-based crosslinking as crosslinked water-based gel and obtained at lower treating pressures. agents to enhance the viscosity viscous refi ned oil were introduced. To transport the sand, however, of gelled water-based fracturing Large-size propping agents were higher rates were necessary to offset fl uids for higher-temperature wells. advocated then.
the fl uid's lower viscosity.
It is interesting to note that the The trend then changed from With the advent in 1953 of water chemistry used to develop these the monolayer or partial monolayer as a fracturing fl uid, a number of fl uids was "borrowed" from the concept to pumping higher sand gelling agents were developed. The plastic explosives industry. An concentrations. Since that time, the JPT • DECEMBER 2010 One Tough
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min. Surface treating pressures sometimes are less than 100 psi, yet others may approach 20,000 psi. Conventional cement- and acid-pumping equipment was used initially to execute fracturing treatments. One to three units equipped with one pressure pump delivering 75 to 125 hhp were Courtesy Halliburton Courtesy Schlumberger adequate for the small volumes injected at the low rates. Amazingly, Fig. 4—Early screw-type sand blender.
Fig. 5—Modern fl uid/proppant blender or
many of these treatments gave proportioning unit.
phenomenal production increases. As treating volumes increased, concentration has increased almost stark contrast with some early accompanied by a demand for greater continuously, with a sharp increase jobs, where only 10 to 15 hhp was injection rates, special pumping and in recent years. These high sand employed. Some of the early pump blending equipment was developed. concentrations are due largely to manufacturing facilities made Development of equipment including advances in pumping equipment and remotely controlled pumps powered intensifi ers, slinger, and special improved fracturing fl uids. Now it by surplus Allison aircraft engines manifolds continues. Today, most is not uncommon to use proppant used during World War II treatments require that service concentrations averaging 5 to 8 lbm/ (Figs. 3, 6).
companies furnish several million gal throughout the treatment, with a Initial jobs were performed dollars' worth of equipment. low concentration at the start of the at rates of 2 to 3 bbl/min. This For the first few years, sand job, increased to 20 lbm/gal toward increased rapidly until the early was added to the fracturing fl uid by the end of the job.
1960s, when it rose at a slower rate, pouring it into a tank of fracturing settling in the 20 bbl/min range fl uid over the suction. Later, with less-viscous fl uid, a ribbon or paddle Pumping and
(even though there were times when the rate employed in the type of batch blender was used. Hugoton fi eld was more than 300 Shortly after this, a continuous proportioner blender utilizing Hydraulic horsepower (hhp) per bbl/min). Then in 1976, Othar Kiel a screw to lift the sand into the treatment has increased from an started using high-rate "hesitation" blending tub was developed (Fig. 4).
average of approximately 75 hhp fractures to cause what he called Blending equipment has become to more than 1,500 hhp. There "dendritic" fractures. Today, in the very sophisticated to meet the need are cases where, with as much as unconventional shale-gas plays, for proportioning a large number 15,000 hhp available, more than Kiel's ideas are used where the of dry and liquid additives, then 10,000 hhp was actually used, in pump rates are more than 100 bbl/ uniformly blending them into the
base fl uid and adding the various
concentrations of sand or other
propping agents. Fig. 5 shows one
of these blending units.
To handle large propping-agent volumes, special storage facilities were developed to facilitate their delivery at the right rate through the fl uid. Treatments in the past were conducted remotely but still without any shelter. Today, treatments have a very sophisticated control center to coordinate all the activities that occur simultaneously. The fi rst treatments were designed Fig. 6—Vintage 1950s remotely controlled frac pumper powered by surplus WWII
using complex charts, nomographs, Allison aircraft engines.
JPT • DECEMBER 2010 (Perkins & Kern)
(Geertsma & de Klerk)
Approximately elliptical shape of fracture 10000 11000 12000 13000 Fracture Penetration (m) Courtesy NSI Technologie Fig. 8—Modern fully gridded frac model showing fl uid and
Fig. 7—Early 2D fracture-geometry models.
proppant vectors.
and calculations to determine and Zheltov (1955), Perkins and include fully gridded fi nite-element appropriate size, which generally Kern (1961), and Geertsma and programs that predict fracture was close to 800 gal (or multiples de Klerk (1969) on fl uid effi ciency geometry and fl ow properties thereof) of fl uid, with the sand at and the shape of a fracture system in three dimensions (Fig. 8).
concentrations of 0.5 to 0.75 lbm/ in two dimensions (Fig. 7). These
Today, programs are available to gal. This largely hit-or-miss method programs were a great improvement obtain a temperature profi le of the was employed until the mid-1960s, but were limited in their ability to treating fl uid during a fracturing when programs were developed predict fracture height. treatment, which can assist in for use on simple computers. The As computer capabilities designing the concentrations of original programs were based on have increased, frac-treatment- the gel, gel-stabilizer, breaker, and work developed by Khristianovic design programs have evolved to propping-agent during treatment stages. Models have been developed and non-Darcy fl ow using any will continue to play a substantive to simulate the way fl uids move proppant available.
role in unlocking otherwise through the fracture and the way the unobtainable reserves. JPT propping agent is distributed. From Fracturing's Historic Success
these models, production increases can be determined. Models can Many fi elds would not exist today Geerstma, J. and de Klerk, F. 1969.
also be used to historically match without hydraulic fracturing. In the US, A Rapid Method of Predicting production following a fracturing these include the Sprayberry trend in Width and Extent of Hydraulically treatment to determine which west Texas; Pine Island fi eld, Louisiana; Induced Fractures. J. Pet. Tech. 21 treatment achieved which actual Anadarko basin; Morrow wells, (12):1571–1581.
result. New capabilities are currently northwestern Oklahoma; the entire San van Poollen, H.K., Tinsley, J.M., being developed that will include the Juan basin, New Mexico; the Denver and Saunders, C.D. 1958. interaction of the induced fracture Julesburg basin, Colorado; the east Hydraulic Fracturing—Fracture with natural fractures. Texas and north Louisiana trend, Flow Capacity vs. Well Productivity.
One of the hydraulic fracturing Cotton Valley; the tight gas sands of Trans., AIME 213: 91–95. SPE-890-G.
legends, H.K. van Poollen, performed south Texas and western Colorado; the Hubbard and Willis (1956). work on an electrolytic model overthrust belt of western Wyoming; Khristianovic, S.A. and Zheltov, Y.P.
to determine the effect fracture and many producing areas in the 1955. Formation of Vertical lengths and fl ow capacity would northeastern US. Fractures by Means of Highly have on the production increase As the global balance of Viscous Liquid. Paper 6132 presented obtained from wells with different supply and demand forces the at the 4th World Petroleum Congress, drainage radii. Several others hydrocarbon industry toward more Rome, 6–15 June.
developed mathematical models for unconventional resources including Perkins, T.K. and Kern, L.R. (1961). similar projections. Today, there US shales such as the Barnett, Widths of Hydraulic Fractures. are models that predict production Haynesville, Bossier, and Marcellus J. Pet. Tech., 13 (9): 937–949. SPE-
from fractures with multiphase gas plays, hydraulic fracturing 89-PA. DOI: 10.2118/89-PA.
SPE Hydraulic Fracturing
Technology Conference
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Robin Beckwith, JPT/JPT Online Staff Writer
While precise statistics on the hydraulic fracturing industry are not kept, there is little doubt its use has grown precipitously over the past decade. Despite low gas prices, North American fracturing activity is at an all-time high, with competition between fracturing companies fi erce, margins slim, and volumes huge. With an estimated 4 million hhp of equipment being built in the US, there are waiting lists for services and supplies, and delays of up to 9 months are common. China and India are investigating the potential of unconventional-gas resources that demand the use of hydraulic fracturing to produce at commercial fl ow rates, and also are stepping up investment in North American and Australian shale acreage. European countries like Hungary, Poland, Germany, and France—keen on easing dependence on Russian energy—are also looking to exploit their tight resources. JPT • DECEMBER 2010 Fig. 1—Estimated size of the global fracturing market since 1999.
Fig. 2—Equipped with 8,250 hhp and 15,000 psi-capable pumps
Courtesy: Michael Economides, Energy Tribune.
and manifolds, Halliburton's Stim Star Angola delivers a wide range of stimulation services offshore West Africa. Photo courtesy: Halliburton.
But it is not all about shale. With phenomenal increase in US proved remains less urgent, as conventional 2007 estimated service-company reserves of natural gas—from a 20- resources remain far from depleted. hydraulic fracturing revenues year low in 1994 of 162.42 Tcf to its Indeed, the top three countries in representing a global market of 2009 estimated 244.66 Tcf—is the terms of estimated proved natural- USD 13 billion (Fig. 1), up from
direct result of advances in hydraulic gas reserves—Russia, Iran, and approximately USD 2.8 billion in fracturing and horizontal drilling. Qatar—held a combined total 14.5 1999, the technique is now more The scramble for this resource, times that in the US, at 3,563.55 Tcf than ever a vital practice enabling however, giving rise to what an IHS year-end 2009, 57% of the world's continued economic exploitation CERA report calls the "shale gale," 2009 total estimated proved reserves of hydrocarbons throughout the is the result in North America to of 6,261.29 Tcf. So, while hydraulic world—from high-permeability oil avert what was predicted earlier fracturing and natural gas—and to fi elds in Alaska, the North Sea, and in the century to be the need to a certain extent oil—extraction have Russia, to unconsolidated formations import vast quantities of natural been linked in the recent focus on in the Gulf of Mexico, Santos Basin, gas in the form of liquefi ed natural unconventional shale resources and offshore West Africa (Fig. 2), to
gas (LNG) from farfl ung locations. within the US, the long-term future unconventional resources such as Although shale and CBM are also lies well outside that country.
shale and coalbed methane (CBM) widely prevalent outside the US, the Currently within North America, developments (Fig. 3).
need in most countries—with the 10 or more fracture-treatment possible exception of the European stages are performed to stimulate What Is Driving the Rise
Economic Union—to turn to them, production along a horizontal in Hydraulic Fracturing?
It is not surprising to fi nd that
North America is home to an
estimated 85% of the total number of
hydraulic fracturing spreads (Fig. 4)
(according to Michael Economides,
a spread is the equivalent of four
fracturing units, a blender, and
ancillary equipment)—including land
(Fig. 5) and offshore equipment.
This stems from its mature,
reliable infrastructure, fueled by
the dependence of a population
Fig. 3—Estimate of approximate breakdown of fracture treatments by well type.
long used to creating demand. The Courtesy: Michael Economides, Energy Tribune.
the US has been fast—propelled in part by regulatory requirements in most areas throughout North America to reveal fracturing and production-performance data within 6 months following execution, which competitors can then plunder for insight. The US also benefi ted from a tax incentive created in the 1980s, which, along with high gas prices, jump-started US tight gas exploitation. By 1992, when the incentive ended, the resulting infrastructure, critical mass, and expertise were in place to continue economically without incentives.
Fig. 4—Estimated global distribution of fracturing equipment, including land fracturing
Driven by increasing demand spreads and offshore vessels.
for power generation, countries like China and India are eager to cost-effectively develop their own borehole, while typically outside companies must charge higher resources, as well as participate North America, the number of prices to remain economically in the boom that has struck US fracture-treatment stages per well viable, which in turn makes it shale. In August, both nations is rarely more than two or three. highly unattractive for operators to signed agreements with the US Low natural-gas prices and lack of permit learning, through practice State Department allowing the US infrastructure are two key drivers and analysis, about the formation Geological Survey to evaluate data for this phenomenon. Outside and about how to run the fl eet on potential shale plays within North America, service companies
and crew. However, a practical those countries to determine if the have yet to establish—or benefi t way to combat this, according to formations possess recoverable gas. from—suffi cient infrastructure or BP Exploration senior petroleum They are also grabbing up gain enough experience to deliver engineer and adviser Martin resources within the US. For consistent results. Rylance, is to deeply focus on the example, India's largest company, Costs that service companies operational quality assurance/quality Reliance Industries, led by must deal with per well tend to be control and execution on the pilot billionaire Mukesh Ambani, has three to four times higher outside fracture treatments, and simply purchased shares in US shales worth North America due to such factors overdesign these treatments with USD 3.4 billion so far this year. as fragile distribution channels or more length and conductivity than Ambani appears to be pursuing a poorly performing equipment and strictly necessary. Optimization of learn-as-you-earn strategy. Evidence personnel. The result is that service the fracture treatments can be an for this can be found in the nature of evolving story as more treatments the joint venture into which Reliance are performed. The absolute key, entered with Carrigo Oil & Gas on said Rylance, is to fi rst establish Marcellus Shale acreage in central effective, competent, and successful and northeast Pennsylvania in fracturing and economical results. early August. Reliance holds a 60% The development and interest and Carrigo is the operator, application of hydraulic fracturing but Reliance has the option to act technology in the US has been as operator in certain regions in the driven by independents, with a coming years. Ambani expects to low cost base and the critical mass build on what his company learns necessary to learn and respond about techniques like fracturing quickly to new developments in while profi ting as approximately modeling, planning, fl uids, and 1,000 wells are drilled over the proppants technology. With plays next 10 years within a net resource Fig. 5—Hydraulic fracturing treatment,
containing dozens of operators, each potential of about 3.4 Tcfe (2.0 Tcfe Woodford Shale, Canadian County, seeking technical and economic Oklahoma, for which Halliburton provided advantage over the other, the pace Smaller countries, like France of technological development in and Norway, are pursuing similar JPT • DECEMBER 2010 Welcome to the new age
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in late 2008 when it fi rst acquired use of 30/50 and 40/70 sand and acreage from Chesapeake, and resin-coated sand, 40/80 ceramics, aims to have shale production of and 100-mesh sands of various 50,000 BOEPD from these assets gradations is common.
by 2012. The company intends to It is interesting to note, however, build infrastructure and confi dence that the use of proppants 16/20 or through its Chesapeake joint larger in fractures performed in West venture to become an operator of Siberia, for example, has increased from 43% of the jobs in 2003 to more Another strategy is to invite than 90% of the jobs today—indicative experienced foreign companies of trends elsewhere that buck those to share in exploiting home-front occurring in North America.
shales. For example, China's largest North America remains listed gas producer, Petrochina, and the dominant manufacturer Royal Dutch Shell have partnered of proppant (Fig. 7). The fi rst
to develop shale-gas resources non-US plant designed to produce in China's Sichuan province. fracture sand meeting API RP 56 PetroChina, however, is hedging its recommendations was built in bets: It also has planned USD 60 1985 by Colorado Silica Sand near billion in overseas investments to Chelford, England. A select few boost its oil and gas output, following small natural-sand and resin coating the example of other companies operations followed in countries like China Petroleum & Chemical such as England, Denmark, Poland, Corporation and CNOOC. and Saudi Arabia. But, according to Olmen, the real development outside Fig. 6—Proppant being moved into
Keeping the Fracture
North America has been in the the hopper for feeding into blender production of high-strength ceramics trucks from which the mixture will be and sintered bauxite. Brazil, Russia, pumped downhole during hydraulic With the rapid rise in hydraulic and China, for example, have fracturing. Location: Haynesville well fracturing over the past decade, established substantial synthetic- in northern Louisiana. Photo courtesy: the number of proppant suppliers proppant manufacturing capacities, Carbo Ceramics.
worldwide has increased from all of which export to North America.
a handful to more than 30 sand strategies—linked to hydraulic producers, nine resin coaters, and at The Vital Need for Fluids
fracturing as an enabling technology. least 10 ceramic manufacturers. Total, for example, announced its According to a 2009 global Vast shales are the deposits of oceans fi rst investment in a coal-seam proppant market study by D. that existed in the Paleozoic and gas project, paying around USD Anschutz and B. Olmen, published Mesozoic eras and as such present 750 million for a 20% stake in an by PropTester and Kelrik in early resources whose steady exploitation Australian joint venture. The project 2010, proppant consumption was will last many decades—even will convert coal-seam gas from a low-growth market through the centuries. Plenty of these shales fi elds in Queensland into LNG at 1990s, but rose from an estimated were in fact the known source rocks a plant on the country's east coast, 3 billion pounds in 1999 to total for many already widely developed from where it will be sold to energy- consumption of nearly 20 billion oil and gas formations. Now these hungry Asian markets. Total is also pounds in 2009 (Fig. 6).
source rocks are themselves turning buying a 15% stake in the Gladstone Proppant grain size has become out to be excellent reservoirs.
LNG project from Australia's Santos, fi ner as the use of slickwater However, outside North and a 5% stake from Malaysia's fracturing has increased, with America, such resources represent Petronas. The French group said 20/40 the dominant gradation a far longer-term frontier, with most it will also explore opportunities throughout the 1990s and early hydraulic fractures still performed to cooperate over other Santos gas 2000s. However, according to
on conventional formations, which assets in Australia. Kelrik owner Olmen, "Slickwater often respond best to complex cross- Earlier this year, Statoil added fracturing of unconventional-gas linked fl uid technology. Because the to its US Marcellus Shale position resources represents nothing short unconventional-gas formations now by acquiring nearly 59,000 net acres of a paradigm shift in its impact primarily targeted in North America from Chesapeake Energy. Statoil on proppant volumes, types, and require high-rate water fracturing entered the Marcellus shale play sizes." The result is that today the and slickwater technology, Rylance JPT • DECEMBER 2010 are hydraulically fractured. Driven by scarcity of water and the high cost of surfactant-gel frac-fl owback-water disposal, project operators sought means of rationalizing resources. On a project basis, it was found that 50% of the load water recovered could be recycled, resulting in a nearly equal reduction on trucking and disposal costs. Signifi cant savings could also be made in chemical-addititve costs.
Fig. 7—Fracturing sand being transported
Stephen Holditch, professor into the Marcellus shale region. Photo and head of the Harold Vance courtesy: D&I LLC/Prop'N Rail, Sheffi eld, Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University, stated, "In the future, the voiced a concern that "We are industry needs to look at developing creating a whole generation of polymer-free fl uids or fl uids with fracturing personnel in North polymers that degrade more America who have never heard completely at temperatures below of and do not understand the 250°F." A key to accomplishing this,
complexities and intricacies of he said, is the development of "better cross-linked gel fracturing, fracture-fl uid mathematical models equipment operation, pumping, to simulate fi ltrate invasion and design, and execution." cleanup in tight gas sands." IPointOil President Hemanta Mukherjee is passionate about The Key to Fracture
the need for "green" fl uids. "Use Success: Fracture Design
of hydraulic fracturing will only grow," he stated. "This means it According to Simon Chipperfi eld, will be much more widely used in team leader Central Gas Team at environmentally sensitive areas like Santos, the key challenges facing deep offshore and arctic tundra." hydraulic fracturing remain Green additives are being developed understanding the interaction and used. One of these is tetrakis- between created fractures and the reservoir. He stated that good sulfate or THPS biocides, a class of progress has been made in the antimicrobial chemicals with low development of processes like after- overall toxicity and rapid breakdown closure analysis to defi ne reservoir in the environment, which won a US properties and microseismic to Environmental Protection Agency defi ne fracture extent. Additional award in 1997 and is used as a independent sources of information means of protecting the gelling agent taken over the life of the well, guar from degradation as well as he said, are required to improve combatting corrosion effects over the understanding of, for example, the life of the well. performance of individual fracturing Flowback water is a bigger stages in wells where many concern. A promising solution to stimulation treatments are placed. this is fracture-fl uid recycling. An The University of Calgary's example, delineated by D.V.S. Gupta Antonin Settari concurred. "The and B.T. Hlideck of BJ Services industry still does not completely (paper SPE 119478), involved understand the geomechanical shallow-gas fracturing in western effects of unconventional well Canada, where typically several fracturing," he said. Although thousand wells are drilled and each shale play presents its own completed every year, all of which set of challenges that render it economically necessary nowadays Hydraulic Fracturing Seeps for operators to learn from empirical experience, Settari estimates that into Public Awareness research being conducted today by various consortia—including the one the University of Calgary has launched, along with Anadarko, BP, The US Environmental Protection Agency is currently Shell, Statoil, and Eni—will trickle designing a study examining the possible relationship down into predictive software within between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water the next 3 to 5 years.
As Rylance stated, "Hydraulic fracturing is a very forgiving technology," with the ability to achieve good results in a commodity-like manner within North America, The US House of Representatives Committee on where its use is, by and large, Energy and Commerce continues to examine based on models developed 25 to the potential environmental impact of hydraulic 35 years ago. "However, if you do it right, the results can be game- changing, with skilled and effective fracture deployment often being the difference between an economic and uneconomic development overseas." To achieve better outcomes, not only is the development of In mid-September, Wyoming became the fi rst state in predictive models necessary, but the US to require public disclosure of all chemicals so is data sharing and integration. used in fracturing. The actual formula for the fl uid can "Companies do not easily share," remain a commercial secret, but the ingredients must Rylance continued. "Service be revealed to the state.
companies' ability to design and execute optimum fracture treatments is hampered because they can't see While they investigate the possible link between the whole picture. There are four hydraulic fracturing and aquifer contamination, New things service companies need to York state regulators have placed a moratorium on design optimum fractures: reservoir new gas drilling, and the state Senate voted in August permeabilities, the in-situ stress to prohibit new permits until 15 May, 2011. distribution, a sound geologic model, and fl uid-loss characteristics in naturally fractured formations." An Four documentary fi lms on hydraulic fracturing—two aid in this area would be Halliburton's pro and two con—have emerged this year: Gasland recently released DecisionSpace Desktop software, one of whose, Split Estate (www.splitestate.
purposes is to further better integration com), and Gas Odyssey ( of real-time, fracturing-related data from the fi eld with the shared Earth model built by the asset team.
Stories on fracturing have appeared in numerous mainstream venues, including magazines (www.
In remarks to the 2010 World Energy Congress, Daniel Yergin, chairman of the consultancy IHS CERA, Popular Science ( pointed to shale-gas development as the single most signifi cant energy smaller news publications and blogs. innovation so far this century. Without hydraulic fracturing, coupled with advances in horizontal JPT • DECEMBER 2010 drilling, this phenomenon would governmental response, studies, The Future
be physically impossible. It is less and media reaction to a suggested While the human population cumbersome and more economically link between hydraulic fracturing growth rate is declining, our and politically advantageous for and groundwater contamination. presence on this planet, currently countries to rely on supplies of According to NSI Technologies estimated at 6.88 billion, continues natural gas that are close to the President Michael Smith most to climb as does our reliance on market in which they will be used—a of this concern is unfounded as consistent supplies of oil and gas. key advantage, along with methane's fracturing is typically conducted Yergin predicts that world energy much-touted "clean-burning" thousands of feet below aquifers demand will increase 32–40% reputation, that makes shale so and the chemicals in the fl uids are over the next 20 years. "Much attractive. Indeed, Holditch stated mostly fairly benign. The chances of the infrastructure that will that "for the next few decades, the of creating a fl ow path for natural be needed in 2030 to meet the best hope for increasing the clean gas to the surface are diminishingly energy needs of a growing world energy supply is to promote the use small. Well-construction problems economy is still to be built," he of natural gas." and gas seepage from poor well said. Building that infrastructure However, with shale exploitation completions close to the surface in and of itself will aid economic nudging ever closer to areas of would be more likely culprits. He growth. And hydraulic fracturing human habitation and aquifers did note, though, that if the well will continue to be used throughout within the US, public awareness penetrates a large natural fault there the world in a wide range of of the oil and gas industry's is some risk, when pumping huge- formations including shale as a presence and practices is growing, volume water fractures, that water technology that plays a vital role in accompanied at times by fears and can be injected at high pressure releasing the hydrocarbons human questions. The rest of the world directly into the fault, causing a societies rely upon for peaceful stands to learn from US public and minor earthquake.
economic continuance. JPT WE WORK HARDER IN ISOLATION.
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November node call agenda

Joining Organizations In Tackling SSIs SCPSF Collaborative Meeting "Learning from Each Other" Kathy Duncan, RN Faculty, Institute for Healthcare Improvement November 5, 2013 The Case for Improvement • 327,000 total hip (THA) and 676,000 total knee (TKA) arthroplasties are performed annually in the US