Hydraulic Fracturing 101: What Every Representative, Environmentalist, Regulator, Reporter, Investor, University Researcher, Neighbor and Engineer Should Know About Estimating Frac Risk and Improving Frac Performance in Unconventional Gas and Oil Wells
- George Everette King (Apache Corp.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference, 6-8 February, The Woodlands, Texas, USA
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.7.5 Well Control, 1.14.3 Cement Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 6.5.5 Oil and Chemical Spills, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 1.11.2 Drilling Fluid Selection and Formulation (Chemistry, Properties), 5.8.2 Shale Gas, 6.5.1 Air Emissions, 1.6.11 Plugging and Abandonment, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 2.5.1 Fracture design and containment, 4.1.6 Compressors, Engines and Turbines, 4.6 Natural Gas, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 5.9.2 Geothermal Resources, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 6.5.7 Climate Change, 5.6.5 Tracers, 2.5.4 Multistage Fracturing, 2.2.2 Perforating, 3.2.6 Produced Water Management, 4.6.2 Liquified Natural Gas (LNG), 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.9 Tanks and storage systems, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.1 Reservoir Characterisation, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 3 Production and Well Operations, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal, 1.14.4 Cement and Bond Evaluation, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 6.5.3 Waste Management, 6.5.4 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, 3.3.1 Production Logging, 1.2.1 Wellbore integrity, 1.8 Formation Damage, 1.7 Pressure Management, 3.4.5 Bacterial Contamination and Control, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 2 Well completion, 5.1.5 Geologic Modeling, 1.2.2 Geomechanics, 5.1.7 Seismic Processing and Interpretation, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 5.8.1 Tight Gas, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion
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Identification of risk, the potential for occurrence of an event and impact of that event, is the first step in improving a process by ranking risk elements and controlling potential harm from occurrence of a detrimental event. Hydraulic Fracturing has become a hot environmental discussion topic and a target of media articles and University studies during development of gas shales near populated areas. The furor over fracturing and frac waste disposal was largely driven by lack of chemical disclosure and the pre-2008 laws of some states.
The spectacular increase in North American natural gas reserves created by shale gas development makes shale gas a disruptive technology, threatening profitability and continued development of other energy sources. Introduction of such a disruptive force as shale gas will invariably draw resistance, both monetary and political, to attack the disruptive source, or its enabler; hydraulic fracturing.
Some "anti-frack?? charges in media articles and university studies are based in fact and require a state-by-state focused improvement of well design specific for geology of the area and oversight of overall well development. Other articles have demonstrated either a severe misunderstanding or an intentional misstatement of well development processes, apparently to attack the disruptive source.
Transparency requires cooperation from all sides in the debate. To enable more transparency on the oil and gas side, both to assist in the understanding of oil and gas activities and to set a foundation for rational discussion of fracturing risks, a detailed explanation of well development activities is offered in this paper, from well construction to production, written at a level of general public understanding, along with an initial estimation of frac risk and alternatives to reduce the risk, documented by literature and case histories. This discussion is a starting point for the well development descriptions and risk evaluation discussions, not an ending point.
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