Hydraulic fracturing, known colloquially as fracking, is a technique used by well drillers to stimulate the production of a well. The hydraulic fracturing technique works by fracturing the rock at the production layer of a well so that the desired resource can flow easier. The most well known use of hydraulic fracking is in the oil and gas industries. However, fracking is also used in drilling water wells. It is important for fuel retailers to understand how hydraulic fracking works and when fracking is used.
How does hydraulic fracking work?
Hydraulic fracking begins when the drill team first drills the well down to a prescribed depth. either vertically or horizontally. A horizontal well bore starts as a vertical shaft until it reaches the desired depth. Then, the drill team curves the bore until it becomes horizontal. The horizontal part of the shaft can reach 1000 to 6000 feet away from the point where it started.
Once the well is in place, the next step is to insert the casing into the wellbore. The casing is solid from the surface down to the desired level for hydraulic fracking. The solid casing protects groundwater layers and other geological features from the high pressure of the fracturing liquid. Once the casing reaches the desired level, it is perforated to permit the fracturing liquid to escape. The exact design of the perforations can help determine the direction, location, and size of the fracturing.
With the well drilled and the casing in place, the next step is to apply the hydraulic fracturing liquid. The drilling crew mixes water with sand and chemical additives. The chemical additives help to speed up the rock fracturing while the sand helps to prop open the microcracks created in the hydraulic fracking process. The exact mixture for the fluid is determined by the kind of fracturing desired. A high viscosity fluid will create large dominant cracks, while high rate fluid creates smaller, spread-out microfractures.
The drill crew begins to pump the liquid into the well’s casing. As the amount of liquid increases, the drilling crew begins to apply pressure. The pressurized liquid begins flowing out of the casing perforations into the oil or gas production rock layers. The hydraulic fracking process begins and as the pressure increases, the fracturing increases.
During the hydraulic fracking process, the drill crew monitors progression in a couple of ways. The first observation method is to add radioactive tracers to the hydraulic fracking fluid. As the fluid spreads out, the crew can use detection equipment to monitor the size and rate of the spread. The second observation method is to use geophones in an adjacent wellbore to monitor microseismic events that occur during the hydraulic fracking process.
Once the fracturing reaches the desired size and spread, the drill crew stops applying pressure. The internal pressure of the geology below ground will start pushing the fracking liquid back up. The drilling crew captures the flowback into tanks or pits. The reclaimed fluid can be recycled for use in another fracking operation or disposed of after treatment.
When is hydraulic fracking used?
In the early days of oil and natural gas drilling, geologists knew of many locations where crude oil was plentiful. However, as more plentiful fields began drying up, geologists had to start looking for less bountiful spots for drilling.
Natural gas and crude oil are actually quite abundant in many formations. Some formations do not let oil resources flow freely, including shale. Shale has low permeability and high porosity. A traditional oil or gas well would not be economical for a shale formation. However, hydraulic fracking creates fractures throughout the rock to allow the resource to flow freely.
Increasing oil production within the U.S. is easier with hydraulic fracking, which is good news for fuel retailers and consumers alike. If you need wholesale fuel, contact us here at Kendrick Oil. We provide high-quality fuel products and services throughout Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and New Mexico. You can call us at (800) 299-3991 or Contact Us by email by filling out our contact form