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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

New, safer waterless fracking technology?

Evidence continues to mount that the shale gas industry needs to squeeze the water and chemicals out of fracking.  As I've written previously, in the slow march toward waterless alternatives, one option that has been deployed on a limited basis uses liquid propane in place of water.   One downside of that technology, according to industry officials I've spoken to, is the obvious risk of fires and explosions.  That additional potential risk is one that E&P companies - that typically place a high premium on worker safety in what is, objectively, a pretty dangerous business - hardly want to incur. So, any additional risk inherent in alternative fracking technologies slows - and perhaps prevents - their widespread adoption.  

Now Houston, Texas-based eCORP International LLC has announced plans to deliver a propane-based fracking technology that "renders the propane stimulation fluid non-flammable."  The company has filed a patent application and is conducting "testing and experimentation of this technology" to prove its environmental safety and commercial viability.

I am not endorsing the company or the technology - but they bear very close watching by the industry, regulators, the environmental community, and the public, where support for fracking is still in the minority.

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