Boom: Fracking innovations are leading to more efficiency, less methane

posted at 6:41 pm on March 12, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, a.k.a. “fracking” is not the cheapest or easiest drilling method out there, but innovations to the technique in just the past few years have transformed shale plays once considered more costly to tap than they were worth into economically viable additions to the United States’ proven oil and gas reserves. Fortunately for our recently explosive shale boom, that trend is only continuing as ongoing innovation and efficiencies are unfolding in real time and helping the industry to decrease the production dropoff rates that are currently a regular criticism of shale wells:

graph of new well production per rig, oil and natural gas, as explained in the article text

The productivity of oil and natural gas wells is steadily increasing in many basins across the United States because of the increasing precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in oil and natural gas extraction. Many resource-producing basins are experiencing an increasing yield over time in either oil (Bakken, Eagle Ford, Niobrara) or natural gas (Marcellus, Haynesville). …

DPR data show that each drilling rig in the Eagle Ford Shale will contribute over 400 barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) more in April 2014 than it would have in the same formation in January 2007. At the same time, the DPR also shows that a Marcellus Shale well completed by a rig in April 2014 can be expected to yield over 6 million cubic feet of natural gas per day (Mcf/d) more than a well completed by that rig in that formation in 2007.

And in that same vein, another criticism that self-fancied green types often level at the United States’ sharply increased natural gas usage is the methane leakage that comes with its production — but the industry is getting evermore efficient with trapping those leaks, too, via the Breakthrough Institute (h/t the American Interest):

Since the onset of the shale gas revolution, many have worried that emissions of fugitive methane — the main component of natural gas and a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide on a molecule-for-molecule basis — are eroding the climate benefits of switching from coal to natural gas. Some have gone so far as to claim that natural gas is worse than coal because of excess methane emissions. But according recent measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency, total methane emissions have been going down, most rapidly in the natural gas system. …

Fugitive emissions of methane continued their decline last year, according to the latest draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory released annually by the EPA. Methane leakage from the natural gas system in particular has plummeted, dropping 40.4 percent between 2006 and 2012. Thanks to this progress, natural gas systems are no longer the largest emitter of methane, a position now held by enteric fermentation (methane from cattle and other livestock).

Environmentalist types will reliably seize on any available excuse to play up the gloom-and-doom aspects of the energy sources that they have deemed unfit for their zero-fossil-fuel visions of what the future should look like, but as our technology and our methods continue to sophisticate in rapid fashion, the shale revolution is only going to keep growing.


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Reference to the Beatles? or average intelligence of a liberal?

WryTrvllr on March 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

but,but,but Matt Damon…..

portlandon on March 12, 2014 at 6:50 PM

Our natural resouces, the saviour of our economy and world standing.

Sven on March 12, 2014 at 6:53 PM

WryTrvllr on March 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Lest I be mistaken Erika does that quite a bit. I find myself always wanting to comment, ” If you’re gonna say that, link the tune!” ; )

Bmore on March 12, 2014 at 6:59 PM

So when are greenies going to give up anything that has touched by the evil “fossil-fuel”?

Isn’t it great to be able to talk out of both sides of your mouth?

GarandFan on March 12, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Directional drilling is relatively new. It will improve for decades. If they don’t lose it they get to sell it. Profit motive.

CW20 on March 12, 2014 at 7:03 PM

But according recent measurements from the Environmental Protection Agency, total methane emissions have been going down, most rapidly in the natural gas system. …

Fugitive emissions of methane continued their decline last year, according to the latest draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory released annually by the EPA. Methane leakage from the natural gas system in particular has plummeted, dropping 40.4 percent between 2006 and 2012.

There’s a very good reason for this. Natural gas is between 85 and 95% (by volume) methane, so methane is what natural-gas producers are trying to sell and burn. Allowing it to escape into the atmosphere decreases revenues and profits, so those dirty rotten greedy capitalist-pig gas producers try to minimize leaks to make more money, which also reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

In recent years, the average methane content of the atmosphere has stabilized at around 1.7 ppm, after prior increases. Unlike carbon dioxide, methane is NOT absorbed by plants. Where does methane emitted to the atmosphere go, if it does not accumulate? Methane has a lower molecular weight, and a higher molecular speed, than all other molecules in the atmosphere, including nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and argon. It therefore tends to rise through the atmosphere, and escape the earth’s gravity, whereas nitrogen and oxygen are slower and firmly held by the earth’s gravity.

Thanks to this progress, natural gas systems are no longer the largest emitter of methane, a position now held by enteric fermentation (methane from cattle and other livestock).

Next on the anti-global-warming agenda: Pepto-Bismol for cows!

Steve Z on March 12, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Reference to the Beatles? or average intelligence of a liberal?

WryTrvllr on March 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

Why, both!

I used to be cruel to my woman
I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved

– Lennon/McCartney

And then there’s Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).

de rigueur on March 12, 2014 at 7:11 PM

And then there’s Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL).

de rigueur on March 12, 2014 at 7:11 PM

45m
Domestic violence injunction dropped against Florida Rep. Alan Grayson – @WESH
read more on wesh.com

Murphy9 on March 12, 2014 at 7:16 PM

An interesting sidelight to the profit motive for limiting methane emissions.

Legal limits on lead emissions to the atmosphere were imposed in the 1970′s, but the oldest lead smelter in the United States installed a baghouse to capture particulate emissions in…1916.

Back then, they didn’t know lead was poisonous, but if they captured most of the dust and recycled it to their smelter, they could sell more lead for the same amount of ore. Those filthy-rich smelter owners, cleaning up the air to make more money.

Steve Z on March 12, 2014 at 7:20 PM

Vote for me for President and I will ensure that we help those who help themselves.

If you’re prepared to slap the Greens upside the head and start drilling and fracking, we’ll send you some ABMs, and some LNG to tide you over.

If you are so paralyzed by the watermelon influence that you’re not willing to adopt modern energy exploration techniques you can expect me to return your calls a couple months after Putin’s cut off your gas, probably about the time his tanks are roaming your capital.

JEM on March 12, 2014 at 7:21 PM

Damn it, what is going on at this site? I just finished entering a comment on another thread and when I hit “Submit Comment” it deleted my comment and kicked off site back to a search engine page. Does this go on all the time? Any reported injuries from people smashing their hand thru their computer screen?

Sorry for the O/T rant, but as this is a recent topic maybe somebody will see this and answer my question.

battalion on March 12, 2014 at 7:41 PM

…explosive shale boom…

I see what you did there.

climbnjump on March 12, 2014 at 7:50 PM

SC.Charlie on March 12, 2014 at 7:26 PM

They could. But Europe in general takes its cue on fracking from environmentalists, celebrities and liberal documentary makers on the topic, not from geologist or petroleum engineers. So the mindset is fracking is only something troglodyte despoilers of our air and water would allow, and certainly not something a sophisticated, forward-thinking region of the planet would allow.

England’s trying to take steps in that direction, but the effort is more like that in New York or California than it is Texas or North Dakota, in that local bureaucrats and politicians are serving as much as impediments as possible. Europe’s preferred option right now isn’t to frack their own lands for natural gas, it’s to buy fracked gas from the U.S. But since that will require LNG export terminals, and the East Coast enviros, celebs and pols are likely to try and fight building several of those sites, Europe may end up with no other option but to frac if they want to avoid being completely controlled by Putin’s gas supply lines each winter.

jon1979 on March 12, 2014 at 8:00 PM

The greatest danger to the environment is the gaseous discharges from the blow holes of enviro-Nazis…

vnvet on March 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Jon1979, I understand that Europeans have historically been influenced by the Green Parties all across Europe. However, in the current situation they are getting to a breaking point. Russian and Middle East oil is coming with ever greater costs than just the price tag.

SC.Charlie on March 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Damn it, what is going on at this site? I just finished entering a comment on another thread and when I hit “Submit Comment” it deleted my comment and kicked off site back to a search engine page. Does this go on all the time? Any reported injuries from people smashing their hand thru their computer screen?

Sorry for the O/T rant, but as this is a recent topic maybe somebody will see this and answer my question.

battalion on March 12, 2014 at 7:41 PM

Send the info to tips@hotair.com. They monitor that more than the threads.

cptacek on March 12, 2014 at 8:53 PM

On a side note, anyone notice how desperate the Euroweenies are for us to ship them LNG instead of them deciding to develop their *own* petroleum resources?

Sometimes I wish I could take every environmentalist who wants to shut down local production, but is ok with buying product from abroad, and shove them into a cave in the middle of nowhere. Naked.

Frackin’ hypcritcal a$$wipes, every one of them…

Wanderlust on March 12, 2014 at 8:56 PM

Woah, Erika — is that a reference to Sgt. Pepper’s?

John the Libertarian on March 12, 2014 at 9:40 PM

You’ve got to admit it’s getting better.

Reference to the Beatles? or average intelligence of a liberal?

WryTrvllr on March 12, 2014 at 6:45 PM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gP4apO4dbhw

Woah, Erika — is that a reference to Sgt. Pepper’s?

John the Libertarian on March 12, 2014 at 9:40 PM

Pretty cool, isn’t she?!

ITguy on March 12, 2014 at 10:55 PM

Boom: Fracking innovations are leading to more efficiency, less methane
posted at 6:41 pm on March 12, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

I like the double-meaning of “Boom”!

Economic boom, and
“Boom! Taste my nightstick!”

ITguy on March 12, 2014 at 10:57 PM