The hydraulic fracturing process has been used for decades by producers – and with current technologies and techniques, it’s unlocking access to more reserves than ever possible. In fact, this process has largely been responsible for the increase in energy production that has made the U.S. the largest crude oil producer in the world, surpassing Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Hydraulic fracturing or “completions activities” occur just after drilling is complete and, like the operations before it, is regulated by state and federal agencies to ensure the entire process is done safely and responsibly.
With most of the action happening over a mile underground, you might notice some activity above ground for the three to four days the hydraulic fracturing process is occurring.
So what should you expect when hydraulic fracturing is occurring in your community or neighborhood?
Before hydraulic fracturing can start, producers have to drill a well. During this stage, you’ll see a drilling rig on the site. Producers will also submit their hydraulic fracturing plans to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The OCC has to approve the plans and provide permits before the fracturing process can begin.
Once the well is drilled and producers have approval to start hydraulic fracturing, you’ll see smaller equipment and trucks on-site. More than a mile underground, a specialized perforating tool goes through the wellbore and creates tiny fissures in the rock, each only a few inches long. Once the perforations are made, the hydraulic fracturing fluid is sent down the wellbore to prop open the fissures and allow hydrocarbons to flow into the well.
The trucks you see each serve a purpose in the process, transporting essentials needed for hydraulic fracturing fluid. The fluid is made up of 90 percent water, 9.5 percent proppant — usually sand — and .5% chemicals, which are used to lower pumping pressure and prevent bacteria and corrosion from forming underground. These chemicals are typically found in most household cleaning products and are also regulated by state and federal agencies. Additionally, oil and natural gas companies use several layers of industrial-grade steel and cement, or well casing, to protect water resources.
The “water hauling” part of the hydraulic fracturing process is when you’ll see the most trucks and will last for less than a week.
After the hydraulic fracturing process is complete activity will slow on the site. Pumpers and engineers will monitor the site and well production.
The hydraulic fracturing process can provide energy resources for many years. This highly technical and efficient process is helping advance both Oklahoma and the nation.
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