Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of pumping water into tight reservoirs at high rates and high pressures in order to break up the objective formation around the wellbore. Sand is pumped with the water to provide a permeable medium that allows fluids and gases in the reservoir to flow to the wellbore. In a typical fracture stimulation job in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania a total of ten thousand barrels of water and half a million pounds of sand is used. Up to ten fracture stimulation stages are pumped in a typical Marcellus Shale horizontal well, so a total of one hundred thousand barrels of water and five million pounds of sand is consumed for each horizontal well that is drilled. The large amount of water that is consumed requires water handling facilities that are not typical of conventional reservoir development programs. The efficient handling of water is one of the major cost drivers of a shale gas development program. The construction of large water impoundments is the most cost effective method of handling the water requirements of a fracture stimulation program in a shale gas development program. An example from Pennsylvania is shown in this picture.