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A waterless hydraulic-fracturing technique gets field-tested

By Scott Jenkins |

A method for using liquid CO2, rather than water, as a hydraulic fracturing fluid has been field-tested in a mid-continent oil well, and has benefited well productivity, according to developer Praxair Inc. (Danbury, Conn.; www.praxair.com). Aside from enhanced well performance, the technology is designed to relieve pressure on freshwater supplies in drought-affected areas. The patent-pending DryFrac waterless hydraulic fracturing technology depends on a proprietary process for blending proppant (specialized sand) with pressurized CO2 that is capable of controlling sand concentration before it is pumped into wells at pressures of between 4,000 and 8,000 psi. CO2 is said to be superior to water as a fracking fluid because it reduces damage to clays, and eliminates blocking of fractures that occurs with water-based fluids, allowing more gas and oil to flow out of fractures in the formation. “For these reasons, fracking with CO2 is ideal for water-sensitive or pressure-depleted wells, and those in areas where water resources are constrained,” says Mark Weise, business development director for oil and gas services at Praxair. In addition, the CO2 does not carry the same flammability risk as hydrocarbon dry-fracking fluids, such…
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