DS term paper - The Process of Hydraulic Fracking of Oil...

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The Process of Hydraulic Fracking of Oil and Gas Wells Term Paper for Directed Study (Hydrocarbon Contaminant Hydrology) Travis Thompson Due Date: December 5 th , 2014 1
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Introduction: When uneducated people on the processes and issues of fracking hear the words hydraulic fracking; the first thing that comes to mind are contamination of ground water, massive earthquakes caused by fracking, and fracking having the ability to kill the environment. Unfortunately these people have been misinformed about the process of fracking and have no actual realization of the amount of time, money, and care that crude oil and natural gas company’s take to make sure issues such as the ones listed previously do not occur. Fracking is not a new practice it’s just the size of the fracks being done that has changed in recent years. Fracking itself has been around for over 60 years and we can trace the beginnings of fracking all the way back to the Civil War era. Col. Edward A. L. Roberts noticed how much devastation the cannons had on the ground surface upon impact. After Roberts left the Civil War, a few years later in November of 1866, he patented the first type of explosive that would stimulate an oil well. (aoghs.org) He called it the “Roberts Torpedo.” (aoghs.org) This new technology would revolutionize the young oil and gas industry, by vastly increasing production from individual wells. “ The torpedo, which is an iron case, containing an amount of powder varying from fifteen to twenty pounds, is lowered into the well, down to the spot, as near as can be ascertained, where it is necessary to explode it. It is then exploded by means of a cap on the torpedo, connected with the top of the shell by a wire.” (aoghs.org) To keep the explosion at the desired depth, which is at the particular oil or gas formation, they filled the cased hole to surface with water. The reason they did this is the hydrostatic weight of the water on top of the explosion would have more force than the explosion itself, therefore keeping the explosion at the bottom of the well. This in turn would concentrate the explosion and more successfully fracture the oil or gas payzone. This technique had immediate impact on production, and some wells were affected 2
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as much as 1200% within a week of being “shot”. (aoghs.org) “Shot” being the term oil industry personnel use when discussing the use of gun powder or liquid nitroglycerin explosions (which would become the go to option until the late 1940’s) used to create mini micro-fractures in porous sandstones and shales for the longevity of an oil or gas well. On March 17 th , 1949 12 miles east of Duncan Oklahoma the first hydraulic frack job was done. Up until this time the conventional process for stimulating a newly drilled oil well was by a nitroglycerin shot which basically just blew the oil or gas formation into pieces at the bottom of the hole. This new idea of hydraulic fracking was patented by Stanolind (later known as Pan
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  • Winter '13
  • oil industry, Oil well, Frack, frack water

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