Ohio's Utica Shale will soon see the first waterless fracking. An unnamed company has asked GasFrac Energy Services of Calgary to frack two wells using LPG, short for liquid petroleum gas instead of water. GasFrac seems to be the only provider of this type of fracking and has fracked some 1200 wells chiefly in Canada, Texas and Colorado. Typically, 5 to 6 million gallons of water are used to frack a well. After completion of the fracturing, the driller must pump the water to the surface and then dispose of the toxic waste, usually by injecting back into the ground in another well drilled for disposal.
When LPG, cooled to an almost gel consistency is used, it combines with the oil and gas in the well and is simply processed with them. Gas fracking eliminates the chief environmental concern, contaminated water, but GasFrac maintains it is cost effective as the cost of disposing of the waste water is eliminated. Last year, the petroleum giant Chevron used LPG to frack several natural gas wells in the Piceance Basin, home to several lucrative coal, oil and natural gas deposits in Colorado. The company’s annual report, while not mentioning GasFrac, noted that LPG “significantly increases production while minimizing water usage.”
GasFrac hopes to begin fracking within a month.