It’s almost impossible to talk about completing a well these days without talking about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracing” as it’s most commonly known. (See the February 2011 issue of PatchWorks to learn what fracing is and how it works.)

With all this talk today, you might think fracing is a new technology. On the contrary, hydraulic fracturing has been used commercially in the Canadian oilpatch since the early 1950s. In fact, fracing has been used in over a million wellbores across Canada and the U.S. over the past six decades!

There’s a simple reason why fracing has been used so extensively over the years: it’s a safe way to unlock underground petroleum resources. Fracing makes new wells economic by opening up the channels for the oil and gas to flow to the surface. In older wells, fracing helps release trapped petroleum resources that were previously inaccessible.

All this, plus environmental safety. Sixty years of fracing experience and innovation have led to more sophisticated fracturing techniques that encourage petroleum to flow, while still protecting shallow groundwater aquifers. Further, every fracing operation must comply with Canada’s strict regulations to ensure water and other resources are protected.

Over the years, hydraulic fracturing technology has evolved considerably to meet the needs of a variety of geologic formations and ever more challenging wellbores. Today, there are multiple types of fracing treatments used, depending on the unique characteristics of the zones underlying each well.

Most recently of course fracing has been paired with horizontal drilling to access shale gas and other tight gas reservoirs. This is multistage fracing, which was covered in the March 2011 issue of PatchWorks.

Today’s oilpatch relies on technology for safety, efficiency and environmental protection. For over 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has delivered all three. In addition, fracing is often credited as the number one technology responsible for extending the potential supply of Canada’s energy resources by over 100 years.

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