Although hydraulic fracturing operations take a relatively short amount of time to complete, the process requires the use of advanced technology and a variety of equipment. From data monitoring to hydraulic fracturing blenders and pumps, this highly developed and regulated process involves a flurry of activities.
1. Water, sand and
additives are mixed at the surface and pumped at high pressures down the wellbore.
2. The fracturing fluid flows through the perforated sections of the wellbore and into the surrounding formation, fracturing it while carrying sand or proppants into the cracks to hold them open.
3. Experts continually monitor pressures and fluid properties during the process, and adjust operations as necessary.
4. This process is typically completed in multiple sections of the wellbore, commonly referred to as stages. Typically stages are isolated using a plug to allow energy or pressure to be applied to a smaller portion of the formation to help maximize the fractures created in the target formation.
5. The plugs are removed from the wellbore and the well’s pressure is reduced during the flowback process, leaving the sand in place to prop open the cracks and allow natural gas and/or oil to flow.
6. Produced water, collected during the flowback process and throughout the life of the well, is properly disposed of or treated and re-used in the next hydraulic fracturing operation.
Unlike shallow projects, such as shallow coalbed methane (CBM), the producible portions of
natural gas and oil formations exist many thousands of feet below the surface. Across the U.S. the average depth of a Chesapeake well is 7,700 feet (almost 1.5 miles below the earth’s surface and many thousands of feet below freshwater formations). This number varies depending on the development area. Chesapeake does not conduct any production or hydraulic fracturing activities in fresh
groundwater aquifers. In fact, across its natural gas and oil operations, groundwater aquifers and producing formations are separated by thousands of feet of protective rock barriers.