Thursday, July 2, 2009

Hydraulic Fracturing Cross-Section

I saw the image below at the Energy In Depth web site, which is an organization of independent natural gas producers representing an alphabet soup of local and regional gas organizations. While I'm not a huge fan of industry sponsored sites, there is some good info here.

This is a particularly interesting drawing considering the discussions going on at state and national levels concerning the regulation of hydraulic fracturing. The image shows vertical fracturing, but the same concept applies to the horizontal applications. The key takeaway is that the impact of the fracturing occurs well below the water table.

The animation that linked below from the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association shows how the well is sealed and cemented throughout the drilling process to avoid groundwater contamination (link to page with animation).

To me, the biggest issue is the management of the chemicals and processes at the surface, which is more of an HS&E issue. The recent controversy over dead cows in Caddo Parish resulted from a surface spill, not the direct application of fracturing, but it's the kind of thing that makes people nervous.

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