Hydraulic fracturing in an international point of view
A constant subject of public debates is the global warming. In this connection keywords like “carbon footprint”, “greenhouse effect” and “carbon dioxide emissions” are always mentioned.
Everybody is talking about how bad burning fossil fuel is and how high the emission rate of burning coal is. Wouldn’t it be very good if they find a fuel which every country could produce and which emission rate of CO2 is lower than the one of coal? In fact there is this kind of fuel. Natural gas or the common produced shale gas has a lower emission rate than coal and for example Americas shale gas resources equal double the oil of Saudi Arabia (Naff 2014) Even in the UK they identified recently many shale gas reserves (Jones et al 2014)
So in this discussion a method became more and more public in the last years. We are talking about hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking. It is a method to produce gas and oil which is trapped between rock layers deep underground.
The following report is giving an overview of different aspects of fracking. Because it is a very complex topic every thematic area is also giving an overview of the main and important facts. Through the consideration of many different aspects and different ways how fracking is treated the international impact should be clarified. An overall view of advantages and disadvantages will be found in the appendix.
Hydraulic Fracturing – short: Fracking – is a method to gain natural gas out of unconventional reservoirs. In conventional shale gas wells the ground is permeable enough that the gas is flowing out of the ground on its own. In unconventional shale gas wells fracking is needed to make the ground more permeable so that gas can flow out. (www.agenda 21-treffpunkt.de)
The image above shows exactly the difference between unconventional and conventional gas wells. Or in other words where is the special fracking technology required and where not. The following section displays more precisely the differences and similarities of the production process.
Conventional gas wells
In general one can say that the gas is between 3000m to 5000m under the surface. The first step is to drill down to the special depth. To produce more gas with only one production spot the reservoir gets drilled through horizontally. With this horizontal drill it is ensured that as much gas as possible is produced.
Due to the depth a high pressure lies on the reservoir. 10 meter depth equals with 1bar pressure. At a depth of 3000m a pressure of 300bar prevails. Additional another 150bar natural pressure the reservoir is under a pressure of circa 450bar. The gas is not trapped between rock layers so the gas will flow out in the drilling because the pressure pushes it out.
The order of the substances in conventional wells is in most cases like the image below shows.
Drajem and Jim Polson)
Unconventional gas wells
Mostly shale gas is the natural product that you can find in unconventional gas wells. So fracking is always referred to shale gas production.
The simple difference between conventional and unconventional reservoirs is that in unconventional ones the substances aren’t in an order like in conventional wells. Here the shale gas is trapped between rock layers and the pores of the rock are too small that the gas could fit through those.
But when we are talking about fracking than we aren’t talking about how the hole is drilled. The term hydraulic fracturing refers to the actions after the drilling process. In simple words, hydraulic fracturing is about creating paths for gas oil to flow out of rock formations.
In order to achieve this goal a special fluid (Frack-Fluid) is pumped with high pressure into the drilling hole. This fluid consists out of water, sand and chemicals. The pipes in the drilling hole are perforated and so are the rock layers around the...
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