Sounds unbelievable, right? How could the Fracking situation get any worst? Well, consider this: The industry is testing out other substances to reducing their use of water. What are they using to replace it? Just good old, harmless, propane of course! State Impact Texas from NPR Reports:
““We don’t use any water,” said Eric Tudor, a Houston-based official with GasFrac, a Canadian company that fracks with propane geland butane. “Zip. None.” At a GasFrac operation in South Texas last month, a sticker on one worker’s hard hat showed a red slash through the word H2O.
Water-free fracking still remains an early-stage technology, with potentially higher initial costs than conventional fracking methods. But as lawmakers and oil regulators focus on the large quantity of water used for fracking wells, the concept is getting a closer look.
GasFrac has led the way, bringing its propane fracking operations to Texas, and there is talk of using other substances like carbon dioxide or nitrogen.
“We’ve looked at [propane fracking], and I would say that absolutely our industry is open to all possibilities,” said Michael Dunkel, the director of sustainable development for Pioneer Natural Resources, in testimony last month before a joint hearing of the House Energy Resources and Natural Resources committees.
Waterless fracking is “a viable technology for sure,” said David Yoxtheimer, an extension associate with the Marcellus Center for Outreach & Research at Penn State University. However, he noted, there is a reason that companies use water, namely that it is “virtually incompressible” and thus is very effective in bringing pressure against, and ultimately breaking up, rock.
Currently there are no special rules on fracking with propane or other nonwater liquids in Texas, according to Christi Craddick, one of three members of the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil and gas industry. The technology is “exciting” but still rare, she said, and no rule changes are on the horizon.
“We’ll see as the technology evolves if our rules need to evolve,” Craddick said last week in an interview.
Tudor, of GasFrac, said his company began working in Texas in 2010, after fracking its first well in Canada in 2008. It has done roughly 100 fracks in Texas so far, he estimated. (Some wells get fracked multiple times.) Much of the work has been in South Texas. A recent job bored into the San Miguel formation, which is a relatively shallow formation in the vicinity of the Eagle Ford Shale. But GasFrac has also done “a couple of prototype fracks” in West Texas, he said.
“We’re just getting started,” Tudor said.”
Read the full post at State Impact Texas from NPR.