Identification of risk, the potential for occurrence of an event and impact of that event, is the first step in improving a process by ranking risk elements and controlling potential harm from occurrence of a detrimental event. Hydraulic Fracturing has become a hot environmental discussion topic and a target of media articles and university studies during development of gas shales near populated areas. The furor over fracturing and frac waste disposal was largely driven by lack of chemical disclosure and the pre-2008 laws of some states.
The spectacular increase in North American natural gas reserves created by shale gas development makes shale gas a disruptive technology, threatening profitability and continued development of other energy sources. Introduction of such a disruptive force as shale gas will invariably draw resistance, both monetary and political, to attack the disruptive source, or its enabler; hydraulic fracturing.
Some ―anti-frack charges in media articles and university studies are based in fact and require a state-by-state focused improvement of well design specific for geology of the area and oversight of overall well development. Other articles have demonstrated either a severe misunderstanding or an intentional misstatement of well development processes, apparently to attack the disruptive source.
Transparency requires cooperation from all sides in the debate. To enable more transparency on the oil and gas side, assist in the understanding of oil and gas activities, and set a foundation for rational discussion of fracturing risks, a detailed explanation of well development activities from well construction to production will be addressed. Information will be presented at a level of general public understanding along with an initial estimation of frac risk and alternatives to reduce the risk, documented by literature and case histories. This discussion is a starting point rather than ending point for the well development descriptions and risk evaluation discussions.
George E. King is a Registered Professional Engineer with over 40 years experience since starting with Amoco in 1971. Technical background includes fracturing, acidizing, perforating, shales, sand control and workovers. He is currently working with Apache on technology applications. Accomplishments include 65 papers, 1985 SPE Distinguished Lecturer and the 2004 SPE Production Operations Award. Education includes a BS degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and an MS in Petroleum Engineering.