Oil and gas companies may turn to a new waterless fracking technique, which has the potential to conserve water and reduce issues related to transportation and disposal of waste water produced during traditional fracking methods.
GasFrac Energy Services, Inc., a Canadian company, is testing waterless fracking in Tuscarawas County, Ohio and is optimistic that waterless fracking may be a good option for the extraction of oil in Ohio, as traditional water fracking may be cost-prohibitive.
GasFrac’s waterless fracking technique relies on gelled propane instead of water. After the propane is pumped deep into the shale formation, it reverts to a vapor and flows easily to the surface. This avoids blockage, which can occur with traditional fracking methods. Additionally, the propane gas leaves drilling chemicals behind as it returns to the surface and the propane can then be reused, while drilling water cannot.
Other companies researching waterless fracking have focused their research on nitrogen or carbon dioxide, often used in “energized” or “foamed” fracking fluids, to develop waterless fracking techniques that will eliminate the use of water entirely. Waterless fracking may also allow fracking operations to more easily and cost effectively meet environmental regulations. While testing is still in its early stages, many see waterless fracking as a potential game-changer in the oil and gas industry.