Water contamination education: Fracking defined – Animated and illustrated fracking news – Slickwater fracking, the technique now known for being so cheap yet so controversial.

Posted in: Drinking Water News, Fracking, Ground Water News, Sierra Leone, Uncategorized, Water Contamination, Water Education
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News Posting
Vol.III
No.182
July 11
2012
Updated
Feb 6 2013

 

Despite many successful water projects, billions of people still lack adequate water and sanitation
 
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Contaminated drinking Water

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Animated fracking news-Slickwater fracking.

This is the technological breakthrough that’s making people wildly bullish on America

Written by Rob Wile @ Business Insider/ Follow Rob Wile on Twitter.* Copyright © 2012 Business Insider, Inc.

This weekend, we told the story of three bears who are all bullish on America for one reason: Domestic oil and natural gas. In particular, Hugh Hendry fund manager for Scottish group Eclectica Asset Management, cited “the momentous nature of recent advances in shale oil and gas extraction.”

So what are these great breakthroughs?

As it turns out, the three great advances in shale resource extraction occurred more than a decade ago, according to Dan Steward, a geologist with Republic Energy and a former Vice President of Mitchell Energy.

The first was horizontal well drilling, which infinitely expanded the potential uses of fracking (which has actually been around since the 1949*). Here’s an animation showing exactly what that looks like:

The first commercially viable horizontal drills had already been executed in the 1980s.

But it was not until the late ’90s that mapping technology was created that could determine where fracking would prove most successful.

Microseismic technology (which were originally used to detect seismic activity around mines) involves lowering detectors into a listening well near a fracked well.

Once the well has been drilled, the seismic devices pick up the noise of where the rocks are breaking, and triangulates the sounds to map out the rest of the play.

Here’s an equally nifty animation that demonstrates microseismic mapping.

The final development was the advent of slickwater fracking, the technique now known for being so cheap, yet so controversial.

Slickwater fracks involve adding chemicals known as “friction reducers” to water to allow for more efficient gas extraction.According to Halliburton and Forest Oil Corp, slickwater fracks allow fluid to be pumped down the well-bore as fast as 100 barrels per minute. Without using slickwater the top speed of pumping is around 60 bbl/min. It also enables extraction in highly pressurized, deeper shales.

In 1997, Mitchell Energy executed the first slickwater frack (.pdf). Steward says it cut down the cost of drilling a well from $375,000 to $85,000.

The ensuing “natural gas revolution” has been more the result of revision after revision of potentially recoverable resources. For example, in 1999, a study estimated 8.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were recoverable in the mid-Atlantic Marcellus Shale. By 2006, that had been revised upward to 31.4. (Some some now argue we have reached a tipping point where has caused recoverability estimates to be revised back downward.)

Here’s how that evolution has played out, according to data from Drilling Info:

So the next time you read something about new innovations in shale extraction, remember this timeline, from Steward:

“By the year 2000, Mitchell Energy had proven shale as a workable and viable. The energy industry recognized it, but financial markets didn’t recognize until 2002, and politicians only realized it in 2006.”

It is these decade-old breakthroughs that have resulted in those cheap prices you keep hearing about.

*Update June 6, 2012: The article originally stated fracking has been around since the 1920s — this should have referred to slanted drilling — a precursor to horizontal drilling — first recorded in 1929. Read more @ Business Insider, Inc

Further reading:
[toggle title=” Slickwater / Fracking historical perspective” height=”auto”] By Theodore Gilliland, 04/19/2011
[justify]Horizontal drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and shale gas have received a ton of press lately. But what impacts do these unconventional techniques have on energy markets?
Neither hydraulic fracturing (fracking) nor horizontal drilling are new technologies—the first horizontal well was drilled in 1929 and Halliburton developed fracking in 1949.Shale gas extraction is even older—the first commercial well was drilled in 1821. However, when horizontal drilling and fracking were combined to drill in Texas’ Barnett Shale region in 2003, a natural gas boom was born. In the last decade, shale gas production has increased 14-fold.[/justify]

Exhibit 1: Historical Milestones in Unconventional Gas Drilling

[/toggle]

Definitions by Wikimarcellus

[toggle title=” Slickwater fracking ” height=”auto”]

Slickwater or slick water fracturing is a method or system of hydro-fracturing which involves adding chemicals to water to increase the fluid flow. Fluid can be pumped down the well-bore as fast as 100 bbl/min. to fracture the shale. Without using slickwater the top speed of pumping is around 60 bbl/min.

The process reportedly involves injecting friction reducers, usually a a polyacrylamide. Biocides, surfactants and scale inhibitors can also be in the fluid. Friction reducers speed the mixture. Biocides such as bromine prevent organisms from clogging the fissures and sliming things up downhole. Surfactants keep the sand suspended. Methanol and naphthalene can be used for biocides. Hydrochloric acid and ethylene glycol may be utilized as scale inhibitors. Butanol and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (2-BE) are used in surfactants. Slickwater typically uses more water than earlier fracturing methods–between one and five million gallons per fracing operation.

Other chemical compounds sometimes used include benzene, chromium and a host of others. Many of these are known to be toxic and have raised widespread concern about potential water contamination. This is especially true when the wells recieving slickwater hydro-fracturing are located near aquifers that are being tapped into for local drinking water. However, reports of actual drinking water contamination appear either very scarce or else non-existent. Hydro-fracturing activity is heavily regulated by state agencies.

In summary, slickwater is a water-based fluid and proppant combination that has low-viscosity. Slickwater fracturing was first used in the Barnett shale. Mitchell Energy introduced the very first slickwater frac that utilized 800,000 gal. of water and 200,000 lbs. of sand as proppant. It is typically used in highly-pressurized, deeper shales, while fracturing fluids using nitrogen foam are more common in more shallow shales and those that have lower reservoir pressure.

[/toggle] [toggle title=” What is proppant?” height=”auto”]

Proppant is porous material such as sand or ceramic beads that are used to prevent newly created fissures and fractures in the shale rock from closing up once it has been hydro-fractured.

A typical hydro-fractured well uses between 300,000 and 500,000 lbs. of proppant.

The objective of hydro-fracturing is to enhance the deliverability of trapped gas by making pathways for the flow of natural gas and other hydrocarbons from the shale reservoir to the wellbore. Two chief factors that influence the flow of gas are permeability and proppant.

Stokes’ law can be used to define four variables that affect proppant settling velocity in a column of water:

  1. fluid specific gravity
  2. fluid viscosity
  3. proppant size
  4. proppant specific gravity

The cost of hydro-fracturing can be minimized by by reducing frac fluid viscosity. According to Stokes law, reducing the particle (proppant) size in half cuts the settling rate by a factor of four. However, particle size is also proportional to the conductivity of a proppant pack. Hence, in designing a fracing plan these factors must be weighed against each other in order to optimize the flow of gas from the shale reservoir.

Although naturally occurring sand is frequently utilized as proppant, specially engineered man-made proppants can be used too such as resin-coated sand or high-strength ceramic materials like sintered bauxite. Materials are carefully selected for size and sphericity to provide the most efficient conduit for production of gas and other hydrocarbons from reservoir to wellbore.

There are three main types of proppant that are in use in hydro-fracturing. Listed in order of their unit cost, these include:

  • sand
  • sand coated with resin
  • ceramic proppant

The higher initial cost of ceramic proppant over sand may be justified by higher returns on investment in terms of greater well production rates and total overall recovery of oil and gas from the well. Higher production rates result from the greater strength of ceramic proppant and its more uniform shape and size.

Production engineers use fracture design models as a guide to optimizing fracturing by comparing treatment size versus fracture half-length. The purpose is to design a fracture stimulation plan that optimizes productivity. The lower the permeability of a reservoir the more fracture length determines the effectiveness of the stimulation. However, unless the fractures can be sustained unpropped, that is, unless the fracture length or height created by hydro-fracturing has residual conductivity without propping, it is a waste of fluid. That can reduce the return on investment of hydro-fracturing a well or even turn it into a loss situation.

[/toggle]

[toggle title=” Facts: Ten scariest chemicals used in hydraulic fracking ” height=”auto”]  The following is courtousy of Michael Kelley | Mar. 16, 2012, 1:35 PM

Methanol

MethanolFlickr/prizepony [justify] [justify]Methanol appeared most often in hydraulic fracturing products (in terms of the number of compounds containing the chemical).
Found in antifreeze, paint solvent and vehicle fuel.
Vapors can cause eye irritation, headache and fatigue, and in high enough doses can be fatal. Swallowing may cause eye damage or death.
 
 

BTEX compounds

BTEX compoundsFlcikr/arimoore
[justify]The BTEX compounds – benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene – are listed as hazardous air pollutants in the Clean Air Act and contaminents in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Benzene, commonly found in gasoline, is also a known human carcinogen. Long time exposure can cause cancer, bone marrow failure, or leukemia. Short term effects include dizziness, weakness, headache, breathlessness, chest constriction, nausea, and vomiting. Toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes have harmful effects on the central nervous system. The hydraulic fracturing companies injected 11.4 million gallons of products containing at least one BTEX chemical between 2005 and 2009.

Diesel fuel

Diesel fuel[justify]A carcinogen listed as a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act and a contaminant in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
In its 2004 report, the EPA stated that the “use of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids poses the greatest threat” to underground sources of drinking water.
Hydraulic fracturing companies injected more than 30 million gallons of diesel fuel or hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel in wells in 19 states.
Diesel fuel contains toxic constituents, including BTEX compounds. Contact with skin may cause redness, itching, burning, severe skin damage and cancer. (Kerosene is also used. Found in jet and rocket fuel, the vapor can cause irritation of the eyes and nose, and ingestion can be fatal. Chronic exposure may cause drowsiness, convulsions, coma or death.)

Lead

LeadFlickr/matthileo
[justify]A carcinogen found in paint, building construction materials and roofing joints.
It is listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the Clean Air Act and a contaminant in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Lead is particularly harmful to children’s neurological development. It also can cause reproductive problems, high blood pressure, and nerve disorders in adults.
One of the hydraulic fracturing companies used 780 gallons of a product containing lead between 2005 and 2009.

Hydrogen fluoride

Hydrogen fluorideFlickr/Molly Des Jardin
[justify]Found in rust removers, aluminum brighteners and heavy duty cleaners.
Listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the Clean Air Act.
Fumes are highly irritating, corrosive, and poisonous. Repeated ingestion over time can lead to hardening of the bones, and contact with liquid can produce severe burns. A lethal dose is 1.5 grams.
Absorption of substantial amounts of hydrogen fluoride by any route may be fatal.
One of the hydraulic fracturing companies used 67,222 gallons of two products containing hydrogen fluoride in 2008 and 2009.

Naphthalene

NaphthaleneFlickr/CraftyGoat
[justify]A carcinogen found in mothballs.
Listed as a hazardous air pollutant in the Clean Air Act.
Inhalation can cause respiratory tract irritation, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever or death.
 
 
 

Sulfuric acid

Sulfuric acidFlickr/yetanotherdave
[justify]A carcinogen found in lead-acid batteries for cars.
Corrosive to all body tissues. Inhalation may cause serious lung damage and contact with eyes can lead to a total loss of vision. The lethal dose is between 1 teaspoonful and one-half ounce.
 
 
 

Crystalline silica

Crystalline silicaSource: ProPublica
[justify]A carcinogen found in concrete, brick mortar and construction sands.
Dust is harmful if inhaled repeatedly over a long period of time and can lead to silicosis or cancer.
 
 
 
 

Formaldehyde

FormaldehydeFlickr/Stadtkatze
[justify]A carcinogen found in embalming agents for human or animal remains.
Ingestion of even one ounce of liquid can cause death. Exposure over a long period of time can cause lung damage and reproductive problems in women.
 
 
 

Unknown chemicals

Unknown chemicalsFlickr/SoulRider.222
[justify] “Many of the hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemical components that are listed as ‘proprietary’ or ‘trade secret.’ The companies used 94 million gallons of 279 products that contained at least one chemical or component that the manufacturers deemed proprietary or a trade secret. In many instances, the oil and gas service companies were unable to identify these ‘proprietary’ chemicals,suggesting that the companies are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify.”[/toggle]  
[toggle title=” Facts: List of chemicals now known to be used in fracking ” height=”auto”]

 
Multiple names for the same chemical can also leave you with the impression that there are more chemicals than actually exist. If you search the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) ‡ website the alternate names of chemicals are listed.

Back To Top

Chemical Name CAS Chemical Purpose Product Function
Hydrochloric Acid 007647-01-0 Helps dissolve minerals and initiate cracks in the rock Acid
Glutaraldehyde 000111-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 012125-02-9 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Quaternary Ammonium Chloride 061789-71-1 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Tetrakis Hydroxymethyl-Phosphonium Sulfate 055566-30-8 Eliminates bacteria in the water that produces corrosive by-products Biocide
Ammonium Persulfate 007727-54-0 Allows a delayed break down of the gel Breaker
Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Product Stabilizer Breaker
Magnesium Peroxide 014452-57-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel Breaker
Magnesium Oxide 001309-48-4 Allows a delayed break down the gel Breaker
Calcium Chloride 010043-52-4 Product Stabilizer Breaker
Choline Chloride 000067-48-1 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
Tetramethyl ammonium chloride 000075-57-0 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
Sodium Chloride 007647-14-5 Prevents clays from swelling or shifting Clay Stabilizer
Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent Corrosion Inhibitor
Formic Acid 000064-18-6 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
Acetaldehyde 000075-07-0 Prevents the corrosion of the pipe Corrosion Inhibitor
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for borate or zirconate crosslinker Crosslinker
Potassium Metaborate 013709-94-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Triethanolamine Zirconate 101033-44-7 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Sodium Tetraborate 001303-96-4 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Boric Acid 001333-73-9 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Zirconium Complex 113184-20-6 Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Borate Salts N/A Maintains fluid viscosity as temperature increases Crosslinker
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Crosslinker
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Crosslinker
Polyacrylamide 009003-05-8 “Slicks” the water to minimize friction Friction Reducer
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for polyacrylamide friction reducer Friction Reducer
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Friction Reducer
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Friction Reducer
Guar Gum 009000-30-0 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
Petroleum Distillate 064741-85-1 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
Hydrotreated Light Petroleum Distillate 064742-47-8 Carrier fluid for guar gum in liquid gels Gelling Agent
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Gelling Agent
Polysaccharide Blend 068130-15-4 Thickens the water in order to suspend the sand Gelling Agent
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Gelling Agent
Citric Acid 000077-92-9 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Thioglycolic Acid 000068-11-1 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Sodium Erythorbate 006381-77-7 Prevents precipitation of metal oxides Iron Control
Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to prevent the formation of emulsions in the fracture fluid Non-Emulsifier
Isopropanol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Non-Emulsifier
Ethylene Glycol 000107-21-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Non-Emulsifier
Sodium Hydroxide 001310-73-2 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers pH Adjusting Agent
Potassium Hydroxide 001310-58-3 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers pH Adjusting Agent
Acetic Acid 000064-19-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers pH Adjusting Agent
Sodium Carbonate 000497-19-8 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers pH Adjusting Agent
Potassium Carbonate 000584-08-7 Adjusts the pH of fluid to maintains the effectiveness of other components, such as crosslinkers pH Adjusting Agent
Copolymer of Acrylamide and Sodium Acrylate 025987-30-8 Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
Sodium Polycarboxylate N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
Phosphonic Acid Salt N/A Prevents scale deposits in the pipe Scale Inhibitor
Lauryl Sulfate 000151-21-3 Used to increase the viscosity of the fracture fluid Surfactant
Ethanol 000064-17-5 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Surfactant
Naphthalene 000091-20-3 Carrier fluid for the active surfactant ingredients Surfactant
Methanol 000067-56-1 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Surfactant
Isopropyl Alcohol 000067-63-0 Product stabilizer and / or winterizing agent. Surfactant
2-Butoxyethanol 000111-76-2 Product stabilizer Surfactant

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    Fracking
  • Within 100 years: Our underground drinking water could be filled with toxic waste
  • Fracking mines spread quickly in U.S. / Fracking by country data included
  • Michigan, Ohio should strengthen laws on fracking, says new NWF report
  • Methane migration probed in Tioga County
  • What are the ten scariest chemicals used in fracking?
  • The Frick and Frac about hydraulic fracturing
  • Toxipedia: Hydraulic fracturing update
  • Drinking Water Contamination
  • Camp Lejeune news: Effects of drinking water contamination due to tetrachloroethylene.
  • Drinking water contamination: Tap water disinfectants linked to birth defects.
  • Camp Lejeune toxic water investigation. The families and protectors of the United States health in jeopardy .
  • High Arsenic in 1 in 5 New Hampshire Wells
  • Toxic garden hose water: Drinking from common water hoses potentially dangerous
  • India,West Mambalam: Overflowing sewage remains a perennial problem
  • Alberta Canada: 3,000 barrels of oil spilled from pipeline. Water OK after Canadian oil spill
  • Pesticides detected upstream of reservoir feeding Australia, Melbourne’s drinking water supply
  • Good News
  • Mayors make ‘Declaration on Water Sustainability’ to protect Great Lakes and St. Lawrence
  • Bio filters from tree fungi. Students research synthetic variant enzymes that can break down estrogen
  • Education Program
  • What are the facts about chloramines
  • Wastewater and antibiotic resistance
  • Sustainable denim manufacturing process creates ‘green’ jeans
  • India water crisis news: Delhi’s Lutyens’ zone reels under severe water crisis
  • Groundwater & aquifers, what they are and why they must be protected.
  • What are some bottle water facts? [Illustrated ]
  • Illustrated water cycle: Marine debris bulletin: Identifying high pressure “gas cylinders from Japan debris”
  • Archived Topics
  • Drinking Water Fears After Chemical Spill In North Bay
  • North Bay Ontario/Residents Evacuated, Driver Dead, In Contamination Rollover On Highway 63
  • Canadian B.C. Water Crisis Issues
  • Jamaica: No need to panic! Asbestos cement pipes safe, says NWC
  • Should We Hide Low-Dose Radiation Exposures From The Public?
  • Formaldehyde Pollution Disrupts Water Supplies in Eastern Japan
  • Chemicals In The Water: Problems and Solutions
  • What Is Hydraulic Fracturing Water Usage?
  • What chemicals are used in fracking? Part I
  • Whats Fracking All About? Part 2
  • Study has has raised concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale
  • Fracking: Natural Gas Fracking Fizzles in Michigan / Includes an EPA Fracking Directory
    Fluoride
  • Where can you get all the facts about fluoride contamination?
  • Fluoride News In America [Aspen Times] & [KREX News Room]
  • What do you need to know about chloramine-treated water?
  • What Are The True Facts About Fluoride And Your Health?
  • Chemical Spill: Formaldehyde 101: What Are The Facts?
  • “How Dangerous Is The Chemical Formaldehyde ?”
  • What Are The Facts About (Bisphenol-A) / BPA, Water And Health Risks?
  • What are some of the known water pollutants?
  • What Are Some Facts About Water? Over 100 Facts You May Not Know.

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