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Economic assessment and review of waterless fracturing technologies in shale resource development: A case study

An Erratum to this article was published on 28 November 2017

This article has been updated

Abstract

Our database tracking of USA water usage per well indicates that traditionally shale operators have been using, on average 3 to 6 million gallons of water; even up to 8 million for the entire life cycle of the well based on its suitability for re-fracturing to stimulate their long and lateral horizontal wells. According to our data, sourcing, storage, transportation, treatment, and disposal of this large volume of water could account for up to 10% of overall drilling and completion costs. With increasingly stringent regulations governing the use of fresh water and growing challenges associated with storage and use of produced and flowback water in hydraulic fracturing, finding alternative sources of fracturing fluid is already a hot debate among both the scientific community and industry experts. On the other hand, waterless fracturing technology providers claim their technology can solve the concerns of water availability for shale development. This study reviews high-level technical issues and opportunities in this challenging and growing market and evaluates key economic drivers behind water management practices such as waterless fracturing technologies, based on a given shale gas play in the United States and experience gained in Canada. Water costs are analyzed under a variety of scenarios with and without the use of (fresh) water. The results are complemented by surveys from several oil and gas operators. Our economic analysis shows that fresh water usage offers the greatest economic return. In regions where water sourcing is a challenge, however, the short-term economic advantage of using non-fresh water-based fracturing outweighs the capital costs required by waterless fracturing methods. Until waterless methods are cost competitive, recycled water usage with low treatment offers a similar net present value (NPV) to that of sourcing freshwater via truck, for instance.

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  • 28 November 2017

    The original version of this article unfortunately contained a mistake. The presentation of an author’s name was incorrect. The corrected one is given below.

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Acknowledgment

The final publication is available at Springer via https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-017-0781-1.

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Correspondence to Iman Oraki Kohshou.

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An erratum to this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-017-0783-z.

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Oraki Kohshou, I., Barati, R., Yorro, M.C. et al. Economic assessment and review of waterless fracturing technologies in shale resource development: A case study. J. Earth Sci. 28, 933–948 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-017-0781-1

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Key Words

  • shale gas
  • gas exploration
  • fracturing techology
  • fracturing fluid
  • waterless fracturing