I’ve batted around the idea of proposing a reality television show entitled “Frac’ing” — although the spelling would probably be change to (shudder) “Fracking.” I know it would be opening the door to a clash of rather titanic proportions, but I keep thinking that somewhere in the fray, the general public would get to know the science involved in designing a hydraulic fracturing program. Further, it might open doors of communication between many different groups. Ultimately, it would be extremely educational — as well as entertaining and provocative.

How would we go about it? Would the best way be to profile a different frac job every week?¬† I think that might be the way to go — in fact, the protagonists could be a top-notch “Frac Team” who go in and study the well and make recommendations. They would be independent and would gather information about the acquifer, the surface water, the environment, the well itself, the formation, the geomechanics, etc. As they do their preliminary study, they’d meet people in the community. They might even encounter protesters.

In the meantime, we’d hear the other sides of the story — the surface owner, the mineral rights owners, the community members, geophysicists, investors (including investment banking and also national oil companies getting into U.S. shales), the Nature Conservancy, the EPA, water quality protection, etc. It would be quite interesting to hear the extremes.

I suspect that the people involved in Marcellus production would have somewhat different stories than the urban Barnett shale-involved people, or the Eagle Ford or Niobrara. The proximity to an urban area, the available of water, the proximity to the watershed, the depth and nature of the acquifer, the depth of production (and the pressure) — all are slightly different for each play.

I don’t know if you had a chance to catch This American Life’s program on the Marcellus¬†last weekend entitled “Game Changer.” It’s now streamable and downloadable from thisamericanlife.org, and it contains interviews with different people, including AAPG members (most notably Terry Engelder).

Hydraulic fracturing is important, and I think it’s vital for every shale geologist to know as much as possible about the engineering involved in designing a frac, and also the different types of frac fluid and proppants used.

We’ve got an opportunity for you to expand your knowledge with Frank Syfan’s upcoming e-symposium on designing a hydraulic fracturing program, to take place on August 25 at 2 pm CDT.


Last 5 posts by Susan Nash

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