Hydraulic Fracturing of Oil & Gas Wells Drilled in Shale
How Long Has Hydraulic Fracturing Been Used?
The first use of hydraulic fracturing to stimulate oil and natural gas wells in the United States was done over 60 years ago. Haliburton Oil Well Cementing Company was issued a patent for the procedure in 1949. The method successfully increased well production rates and the practice quickly spread. It is now used throughout the world in thousands of wells every year. Our gasoline, heating fuel, natural gas and other products made from petroleum products would cost a lot more if hydraulic fracturing had not been invented.
Successful Use of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale
In the early 1990s, Mitchell Energy began using hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the production of natural gas from wells drilled into the Barnett Shale of Texas. The Barnett Shale contained enormous amounts of natural gas; however, the Barnett rarely produced natural gas in commercial quantities.
Mitchell Energy realized that gas in the Barnett Shale was trapped in tiny pore spaces that were not interconnected. The rock had pore space but lacked permeability. Wells drilled through the Barnett Shale would usually have a show of gas but not enough gas for commercial production. Mitchell Energy solved this problem by hydraulic fracturing the Barnett Shale to create a network of interconnected pore spaces that enabled a flow of natural gas to the well.
Unfortunately many of the fractures produced by the hydraulic fracturing process snapped closed when the pumps were turned off. The Barnett Shale was so deeply buried that confining pressure closed the new fractures. This problem was solved by adding sand to the fracturing fluid. When the rock fractured, the rush of water into the newly-opened pore space would carry sand grains deep into the rock unit. When the water pressure was reduced, the sand grains «propped» the fracture open and allowed a flow of natural gas through the fractures and into the well bore. There are a today has been to Variety of natural and synthetic products are sold .
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