From Penn State Extension

The U.S. Dept. of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) is working with the Gas Technology Institute and industry partners to provide new data on how induced underground fractures spread within horizontal wellbores.

Hydraulic fracturing is a complex process used to propagate fractures in subsurface rock layers with the injection of pressurized fluid through a wellbore to extract oil or gas.  This underground process has many variables affecting where the fractures disseminate from, their size, and their ability to improve hydrocarbon production.  The data from this research will help to reduce potential environmental impacts, improve efficiency, and reveal safe and reliable operations of the process.  With improved design and process of hydraulic fracturing, a smaller environmental footprint may result due to a lower number of wells, thus less water and energy required for fewer wells.

The test site, located in the Permian Basin in Texas, drilled and stimulated eleven 10,000-foot-long horizontal wells, and 600 feet of core samples were drilled and removed from created hydraulic fractures.   The data acquired from the study will provide understanding in fracture connectivity, conductivity, and drainage patterns across various rock formations.   Data acquired during this project included  comprehensive geophysical well logs, side wall cores, diagnostic fracture injection tests, cross-well seismic surveys, water and air samples, production and pressure monitoring, radioactive and chemical tracers, colored proppant, microseismic monitoring and fiber coil production logs.

NETL, the only national lab devoted to fossil energy research, worked with Gas Technology Institute, Laredo Petroleum, Core Laboratories, Devon Energy, Discovery Natural Resources, Encana Corporation, Energen, Total E & P, and Halliburton.

The study lasted 18 months, and data is still being analyzed.  No timeline has been provided as to when the data will be made public.

More information on NETL can be found here.

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