Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer, as a result of the action of a pressurized fluid. Some hydraulic fractures form naturally—certain veins or dikes are examples—and can create conduits along which gas and petroleum from source rocks may migrate to reservoir rocks. WHAT???? Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking, commonly known as fraccing or fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction. This type of fracturing creates fractures from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations. In other words, fracking in it's revived state today, is used by large and small companies to drill for natural gas, oil and other energy elements below ground.
The first use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947 but the modern fracking technique, called horizontal slickwater fracking, that made the extraction of shale gas economical was first used in 1998 in the Barnett Shale in Texas. The energy from the injection of a highly pressurized fracking fluid creates new channels in the rock, which can increase the extraction rates and ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons.
Proponents of fracking point to the economic benefits from vast amounts of formerly inaccessible hydrocarbons the process can extract. Opponents point to potential environmental impacts, including contamination of ground water, risks to air quality, the migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flowback and the health effects of these. For these reasons hydraulic fracturing has come under scrutiny internationally and nationally.
Small Cap Company Taking On Fracking Issue
The environmental issues caused by fracking are taking a front row seat for many companies. At the head of the topic is the waste water created by fracking. As reported in a recent Seeking Alpha article:
Companies around the country are racing to find ways to recycle the water used in hydraulic fracturing, in searching of a growing market that could be worth billions of dollars. Industry giants such as Halliburton Corp. (HAL) and Schlumberger Ltd (SLB) and emerging microcap companies such as ThermoEnergy Corp (TMEN) and ECOtality, Inc. (ECTY) are all attempting to perfect technologies that allow for the reuse of the "frack water" that comes out of wells after hydraulic fracturing.
Schlumberger predicts a million new wells will be fracked around the world between now and 2035. One can imagine the burden this will place on the demand for usable fracking solution. With this increase in demand new technologies are bound to be developed. (Source
ThermoEnergy’s TurboFrac™ technology is a cost effective solution to recover and recycle clean, usable water from contaminated produce water created by the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of oil and gas wells. In addition to recovering usable water for reuse in fracking operations, the TurboFrack system can concentrate the chemicals and other impurities for recycling or safe, cost-efficient disposal.
The use of hydrofracking to recover oil and gas from shale and conventional deposits requires billions of gallons of fresh water each year. A single well can use as much as several million gallons or more. Environmental groups and government agencies have been putting fracking operations under increased scrutiny as drought conditions continue to prevail in some oil and gas producing regions of the country. In regions where freshwater is in scarce supply, particularly in drought years, water must be trucked in at considerable expense including the cost of the water and the transportation and fuel required for delivery. ThermoEnergy’s TurboFrac™ technology seems to be taking on this large cap issue.
Across the U.S., there are considerable reserves of lower-quality water that is buried deep in aquifers. Presently, these water sources contain too much brine and other impurities to be used in fracking. ThermoEnergy’s FracGen™ systems provide an economical and effective solution to upgrade brine laden water that is available in local, deep aquifers.
Where fresh water is scarce, deploying ThermoEnergy systems to recover useable water from local aquifers would save millions of dollars
that would have to be spent on purchasing and trucking in fresh water from distant locations, and would protect and extend potable water supplies in locations where usable water is locally available. This is extremely important when you are discussing drilling in the deserts of Saudi Arabia or Texas.
While this issue is still in it's infancy, at least one company ($TMEN) we know of has started to delve into a solution. Far from solved, but definitely one to keep an eye on.