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Environment - Land
For more than 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has been safely performed on more than 1 million wells.
Hydraulic fracturing is a process commonly used in the extraction of oil and natural gas from low-permeability reservoirs found thousands of feet below the earth’s surface.
Specially engineered fluids are pumped at high pressures and rates to create cracks in the reservoir formation. These cracks allow oil and natural gas to flow more freely into the well bore, thereby enhancing the productivity of the target formation.
More than 98 percent of the fluid is water. The remainder of the fluid typically includes low concentrations of three to 12 chemical additives. These chemicals serve many functions in hydraulic fracturing, from limiting the growth of bacteria to preventing corrosion of the well casing.
Proppant, most often sand, is another important part of the hydraulic fracturing process. The sand is carried by the fluid, but remains in the fractures created to keep them literally propped open.
As the well itself is being drilled, it is cased in steel and surrounded by layers of cement. This well-design standard not only helps ensure the integrity of the well for optimum production, it also provides multiple levels of protection between underground fresh water and the production zone of the well.
Energen is an inaugural participant of the FracFocus Chemical Disclosure Registry. This Web-based project features a public database of hydraulic fracturing fluid composition on a well-by-well basis.
Energen utilizes hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling in the Permian Basin where the company is focused on the development of oil and natural gas liquids. As a result, we drill fewer wells to access equivalent reserves, produce lower drilling waste volumes, and have reduced air emissions compared to conventional drilling.
Horizontal drilling is the process of drilling a curved well in order to reach a target that is not directly beneath the drill site. The lateral lengths of horizontal wells are typically thousands of feet. This technology is critical to cost effectively producing oil and gas from low porosity/low permeable formations such as shale because horizontal drilling exposes more of the well bore to the shale formation.Horizontal drilling has the added benefit of minimizing the environmental footprint of oil and gas drilling operations. By drilling horizontally for a mile or more deep underground, Energen and other operators access substantially more reserves across a broader area with one well than they can with multiple traditional vertical wells. This translates into reduced land usage at the surface, less waste, and reduced air emissions.