Michael J. Economides: Hydraulic Fracturing: The State of the Art

Hydraulic Fracturing: The State of the Art
By Michael J. Economides


Fundamentally, propped hydraulic fracturing is a process used to make oil and gas wells produce oil and gas faster. It does not create hydrocarbons or increase formation permeability – it simply makes wells produce existing reserves more quickly. In almost all cases in North America and many other parts of the world with long history of oil and gas production, hydraulic fracturing means the difference between an economic and a sub-economic well.

It took many years for the industry to realize that, by pumping hydraulic pressure into a subsurface hydrocarbon filled rock, one could create a crack that would make it much easier for oil, or gas, to flow out of the rock. Today virtually all wells require this process to produce commercial quantities of gas (or oil). It has taken the industry the last 20 years to figure out that horizontal wellbores combined with hydraulic fracturing are the key to producing commercial quantities of natural gas from shale formations.

This realization, combined with advancements in the ability to pump multiple fracture treatments in tight rock and shale formations has led to a huge boom in gas production. Shale and tight gas now account for over 2/3 of the daily gas produced in the United States, and this has led to 87% of US natural gas supply to be produced domestically. It is important to realize that this gas production wouldn’t be possible without hydraulic fracturing. (Energy Tribune)

3 responses to “Michael J. Economides: Hydraulic Fracturing: The State of the Art

  1. From a former petroleum geologist who worked E&P for nearly 8 years. Don’t know where you got your info but several things are WRONG about this post: 1)”It does … increase formation permeability – ” In fact, the process does increase permeability – that’s the whole point of the thing! The gas (nearly all fracing is for what’s called “tight gas”) is held tightly in sealed pores – BUT – no connections (permeabiity) to allow the gas to escape. Fracing creates that permeability by breaking the rock and allowing the gas to escape. (We also used to use dynamite!) 2) “…virtually all wells require this process…” this is also wrong! MOST wells don’t require this (they flow on their own) but fracing is used to INCREASE production. ONLY TIGHT GAS FORMATIONS consistently require fracing. 3) As a comment: “…tight rock and shale formations…” — PLEASE if you’re going to talk petroleum geology, at least know its terminology! SHALE is a TYPE of rock. You speak of them as two separate things. Limestone, dolomite, shale, sandstone (all prospective reservoir lithology types are ALL ROCK TYPES. Don’t give the enviros additional ammunition by sounding like them!! PS The term is “FRACING” NOT “FRACKING”

    • The article is by petroleum engineer professor Michael Economides, you should take your concerns to him over at Energy Tribune. I suspect you won’t get very far with complaints like “fracing” not “fracking” though since he is using the common vernacular of the day.

  2. Pingback: Natural Gas Policy: Access, Not Over-Regulation and Subsidies « A Balanced Approach to Energy Policy

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