Two New Advances in Fracking

February 5, 2013 06:24 AM

natural gas rig sunrise l

Two important advances in the science of fracking have recently been made. The first discovery, made by Apache Energy, has fracking pumps equipped to fuel themselves from the natural gas pumped on site. In response, Halliburton has developed its own technical solution for converting the pumping equipment used at a typical large-scale fracturing spread to a dual-fuel system including natural gas -- a system that will be more efficient and cleaner-burning than using diesel fuel alone.

Working closely with Apache and Halliburton, Catterpillar adapted its proprietary Dynamic Gas Blending (DGB) engine to power Halliburton's field pumps. “We anticipate that in the not-so-distant future, these DGB engines can be easily retrofitted to efficiently burn available on-site conditioned field gas, thereby saving operators additional fuel transport costs,” said Marc Edwards, Senior Vice President of Halliburton’s Completion and Production Division.

The second advance is in the development of non-toxic fracking fluids. Environmental groups have criticized the fracking industry as being potentially harmful to the environment, but regulators contend that overall, water and air pollution problems with fracking are rare. Halliburton has developed a non-toxic fracking fluid called CleanStim® which uses only food-industry ingredients.

In a Louisiana well operated by El Paso Corp., more than four million gallons of CleanStim® hydraulic fracturing fluid comprised of ingredients sourced from the food industry were utilized to enhance the well and resulted in faster production of natural gas. Nearly 4.8 million gallons of water were treated through Halliburton’s CleanStream® process, which uses UV light instead of additives to control bacteria in water. Another one million gallons of produced water was prepared for recycling in the well through the CleanWave™ system, significantly reducing the need for freshwater.

“Halliburton is proud that we’ve developed the CleanSuite™ system, but in order for these technologies to be commercial and truly transform our industry, we need operators who are willing to take that first step and help prove these new technologies. El Paso stepped up to that challenge and we applaud their foresight to help pioneer completely new production enhancement technologies,” said Marc Edwards, Halliburton senior vice president, Completion and Production Division.

Technical and cost issues could limit the use of products like CleanStim® and the CleanSuite™ system, but the industry clearly would like to develop safe production methods that leave as little environmental footprint as possible. Developments like these will support fracking's future and will allow the industry to continue to provide the U.S. with domestic resources.

 Photo credit: danielfoster437 / / CC BY-SA

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