Petroleum reservoir fracturing is set for a major improvement with new technologies going to work miles down from the surface and then out horizontally.  Called fracking, the process uses pressure to break into oil and natural gas rocks and prop channels for the petroleum products to flow back out.  Thus huge new supplies of oil and gas are coming to market.

It’s no surprise that the technology is already international, starting in the U.S. its already going to work in Canada, Argentina, Russia, Mexico, Poland, the Middle East and more.

The leaders of the new boom that can be expected over time to be used in millions of wells worldwide are the major petroleum service companies, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes.

The “super fracking” as its becoming named is based on three basic improvements.  The first is Schlumberger’s “HIWAY” idea that is an innovation in the material forced into the rock. (The linked page has a good animation to explain the process in detail.)  The new idea is to add fibers to the mix of hard small grains used to hold open the cracks.  The fiber is being seen as a major production improver.  Much more flow for a longer period is the result. That flow, called conductivity, has been the problem of wildcatters for 150 years.  The petroleum is there, but it won’t come out.  How much more the fiber offers has investors in oil reserves pouring over 100+ years of history.

Schlumberger's Flow-Channel Fracturing Illustrated

The second idea called “RapidFrac” comes from Halliburton with a set of highly developed specialized pipe fittings that go into a newly drill hole.  (This page also has a high quality animated video, though quite a large file.) Much like valves, these sections of the pipe when activated open passages to the rock.  With two types, a set of one type in a row can be used to work a section to specifications learned from the drilling results and geophysics.  The second type then is an isolator to keep the work specific to the set before moving on to the next set.  It’s a very sophisticated means to crack a vast volume of petroleum reserve rock.

Halliburtons RapidFrac System Illustrated. The explanation is part of the jpg, click the image to see the largest view.

Halliburton’s new technology also has a second benefit, the accurate and limited groups require about half the water and much less time.  Where time is money this level of conservation and efficiency really adds up.  It also should cut back on the fears – stuffing half as much water down is going to reduce the amount of risk – and the targeted zones will be much easier to study.  For the local folks it means half the traffic per job, too.

The fracking business is made up of the two huge companies and a veritable army of others making well completion a very competitive business.

The pipe placed down a well is getting more sophisticated, and the valve idea isn’t unique to Halliburton.  The current technology is sending balls down the pipe that stop where the diameter is too small. Of late the balls dropped in are made of plastic that can be drilled out when the frack pressure work is done.  The third idea is Baker Hughes has developed disintegrating frack balls (No company info yet.).  This solves the need to have a drilling rig return to the well, and spend several days drilling and fishing out the perhaps a many as 20 or even 30 balls dropped in to do the frack in stages.

The controlled “explosive” (its more of a really fast burn) blast technology to get through the pipe and into the rock isn’t laying about – here Baker Hughes has a fourth idea, developing and testing “super cracks,” a method of blasting deeper into dense rock to create wider channels in order to funnel more oil and gas. The aim for the technology, branded “DirectConnect,”(pdf file link)  is to concentrate fracking power to target oil or gas buried deeper in the formation.

Baker Hughes FracPoint MP sleeve with DirectConnect ports Illustrated. Use the brochure link for a more complete explanation. Click image for a larger view.

Perhaps the best news is the new technologies are reducing costs in a big way. Investor stock trackers have noticed and estimates like the one from JPMorgan Chase projects drops from $2.5 million per well down to an astonishing $750,000 – a drop of 70% – money that will get reinvested in more drilling and production.

Many are surprised at the massive gains in the U.S. production of petroleum, with finished products making the U.S. a net exporter again.  The innovation, daring, risk assumption, testing and prices for oil have gotten the door open and the oil bidness has pressed right on through with American ingenuity and character.  The new technologies will soon be major U.S. exports – cutting back on the world’s marginal last barrel risk and suppressing prices back to reason.

A year of high prices and past years of wild swings in oil prices may seem a trauma, but the industries’ reaction to the trauma has made the supply much more secure for a longer time.


Comments

5 Comments so far

  1. Al Fin on January 16, 2012 11:43 AM

    The US has a desperate need for more energy, yet its government is mired in an “energy starvation” mentality, for reasons of faux environmental angst, and an anti-private sector bias.

    Many powerful energy products developed in the US — such as super-fracking, advanced generation small modular nuclear reactors, scalable GTL, the use of high temperature process heat from advanced gas-cooled nuclear reactors for cheap production of CTL, GTL, KTL, bitumens to liquids, etc…. and so on, may only find widespread use outside of the US, due to prohibitively expensive regulations and other energy starvation policies and agendas of the US federal government.

  2. Matt Musson on January 17, 2012 7:36 AM

    The Federal govt is involved in an undeclared’War On Cars.’ And the strategy is simple enough: restrict supply of gasoline and make driving too expensive.

    Of course, this means that the working poor are the first victims. Sorry poor folks, the Obama administration says you can’t drive.

  3. Brad Arnold on January 23, 2012 12:28 AM

    The natural gas industry is going to go the way the oil-sands industry will soon go – into bankrupcy because it simply can’t compete with LENR:

    There is a new clean energy technology that is one tenth the cost of coal. LENR using nickel. Incredibly: Ni+H(heated under pressure)=Cu+lots of heat. This phenomenon (LENR) has been confirmed in hundreds of published scientific papers: http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/RothwellJtallyofcol.pdf

    “Over 2 decades with over 100 experiments worldwide indicate LENR is real, much greater than chemical…” –Dennis M. Bushnell, Chief Scientist, NASA Langley Research Center

    “Energy density many orders of magnitude over chemical.” Michael A. Nelson, NASA

    “Total replacement of fossil fuels for everything but synthetic organic chemistry.” –Dr. Joseph M. Zawodny, NASA

    According to Forbes, electricity will be “too cheap to meter” if Rossi’s Oct 28 demonstration succeeds: http://www.forbes.com/sites/markgibbs/2011/10/17/hello-cheap-energy-hello-brave-new-world/

    Here’s the latest, according to MSNBC it passed the test: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45153076/ns/technology_and_science-science/#.TrNo9rJqwe4

    By the way, here is a current survey of all the companies that are bringing LENR to commercialization: http://www.cleantechblog.com/2011/08/the-new-breed-of-energy-catalyzers-ready-for-commercialization.html

  4. 'Super-Fracking' Improves Oil & Natural Gas Extraction on January 25, 2012 9:33 PM

    [...] is currently energy-starved — how come Indians aren't coming up with improvements like this? Get Ready for Super Fracking! | New Energy and Fuel Disclaimer: Opinions expressed by me are my own, and are not affiliated with this site or [...]

  5. Relevant EAM CMMS, Cable, and Lodging News for 1-13-2012 on December 4, 2013 6:08 PM

    […] Get Ready for Super Fracking! Posted on New Energy and Fuel announcing the new technology to increase the effectiveness of the highly controversial Fracking method of mining. […]

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