Sunday, January 22, 2012

With New Super-Fracking Advances, the Shale Revolution Might Be Just Getting Started

Last Wednesday, I posted a link to a Bloomberg article about "super-fracking" and commented that the ongoing advances in fracking technology might mean that the "shale revolution" is just beginning.  Here are some excerpts from a longer and more detailed Bloomberg article about how "super-fracking" could continue to revolutionize domestic energy development by significantly lowering the costs of unlocking even  more and deeper reserves of shale gas and tight oil than were accessible by traditional fracking:

Bloomberg -- "Oil services companies including Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Haliburton are continuing their quest to devise ways to create longer, deeper cracks in the earth to release more oil and gas. These companies are no longer content to frack—they want to super frack.

High crude prices and newly accessible oil and gas embedded in shale rock in North America are driving the wave of innovation. The more thoroughly that petroleum-saturated rock is cracked, the more oil and gas is freed to flow from each well, raising the efficiency—and profit—of the expensive process.

1. Baker Hughes has set its sights on creating “super cracks,” a method of blasting deeper into dense rock to create wider channels. The aim of the technology, branded as DirectConnect, is to better concentrate the pressure of fracking fluids to reach oil or gas farther from the well bore, which existing methods fail to do as effectively. The company also is trying to speed up the fracking process. Wells usually are fracked in steps, as plastic balls are dropped down to plug the well at various stages and isolate different zones for fracking. It can take days to get a drilling rig to the site and fish out conventional frack balls, which can get stuck over the course of 20 or 30 preparation phases in a typical well before production can begin. With land-based rigs renting for up to $30,000 a day, reducing such delays is critical. So Baker Hughes has developed disintegrating balls, which turn into powder “like an Alka-Seltzer” after a couple of days.

2. Schlumberger has developed a technique called HiWAY. The technology can generate bigger cracks in surrounding rock formations than current methods by combining fiber with typical fracking materials such as sand so the stuff clumps as it’s being pumped in repeated pulses and at high pressure into the side of a well. The number of customers using HiWAY in North America has grown from two a year ago to more than 20. Chief Executive Officer Paal Kibsgaard told investors in October that the HiWAY technology is yielding larger oil and gas production while using less water and sand than conventional fracking.

3. Halliburton, the No. 1 provider of fracking services, is trying to reduce the amount of materials and labor used on each well. It’s rolled out RapidFrac, a series of sliding sleeves that open throughout the horizontal well bore to isolate zones for fracking. Fracking fluid is then injected at high pressure through multiple holes exposed by the sliding sleeve, cracking the surrounding rock. The process can be faster and cheaper than the most popular fracking method, which involves sending an explosive charge down the well to blast one hole at a time."


At 1/22/2012 5:32 PM, Blogger Les Johnson said...

Super Fracing is a misnomer. Its actually either reducing fracturing fluid volumes, or increasing the conductivity of the fracture; or both.

In other words, the efficiency is being improved.

And please everyone, its not "fracking". Its fracing. Which is short for "fracturing", which is short for "hydraulic fracturing".

At 1/22/2012 5:52 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

I doubt they use an explosive charge. We used an array of shaped charges to put multiple holes within a frac zone.

Technically a shaped charge produces more of a directed burn than a detonation, which produces unpredictable results.

At 1/22/2012 6:18 PM, Blogger netbacker said...

all this means, more earthquakes to come in the USA. Don't crack those bedrocks, you end up on shaky grounds :)

At 1/22/2012 6:43 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

As long as it doesn't make the water & land toxic or do party tricks(such as being able to set the water on fire), go on with it.

At 1/22/2012 6:53 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

This is wonderful news.
The private sector always produces more for less.

The public sector, including the $1 trillion we spend annually on defense-homeland security-VA, is largely spent on parasitic, coprolitic federal agencies that produce less for more every year.

Look for $2 mcf gas for several generations, or maybe we go back to the the 1970s and sub $1 mcf gas.

In general, commodities get cheaper over time.

At 1/22/2012 11:58 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

In general, commodities get cheaper over time.


Not commodities that you use up. Passenger pigeons and heath hens were once commodities. Tried to buy one of them lately?

At 1/23/2012 5:26 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

This is wonderful news.
The private sector always produces more for less.

You guys refuse to learn and still fall for hype. First, most of the shale formations are not very thick. The Bakken formation is only around 150 feet thick. The thickness of the Marcellus shale formation varies from a few feet to 200 feet or so. If fractures go through the formation and hit natural fractures in the neighboring formation much of the petroleum liquids and natural gas may never make it to the well and the fracking fluids could seep out of the formation. This seems to be lost on many of the optimists who are hyping new methods that will not come into play fast enough to save most producers from bankruptcy even if the government approved them.

And if I remember properly it was not all that long ago when I was debating people who were telling me that this technology would be the key to shale production. A few years later the promoters have quietly stepped away and nobody is talking about the failure.

At 1/24/2012 8:37 AM, Blogger VangelV said...

One last thing. It was just pointed out to me that the Energy Department has cut its estimate for the Marcellus Shale reserves by two thirds.


Over the next few years expect the estimates to be written down substantially. I recall the excitement not too long ago about the great PEMEX discovery that was supposed to make up for the fall in Cantarell production. A few months after the great hype PEMEX wrote down 95% of the claimed reserves and the optimists went on to a new story.


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