New USGS publications unveil historical hydraulic fracturing trends and data

The U.S. Geological Survey has announced that two new publications highlighting historical hydraulic fracturing trends and data from 1947 to 2010 are now available.

Jan. 30, 2015 -- The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has announced that two new publications highlighting historical hydraulic fracturing (fracking) trends and data from 1947 to 2010 are now available.

This national analysis of data on nearly 1 million fracked wells and 1.8 million fracturing treatment records from 1947 through 2010 is used to identify fracking trends in drilling methods and use of proppants (sand or similar material suspended in water or other fluid to keep fissures open), treatment fluids, additives, and water in the United States.

These trends are compared to peer-reviewed literature in an effort to establish a common understanding of the differences in fracking and provide a context for understanding the costs and benefits of increased oil and gas production. The publications also examine how newer technology has affected the amount of water needed for the process and where fracking has occurred at different points in time.

"These national-scale data and analyses will provide a basis for making comparisons of current-day hydraulic fracturing to historical applications," said USGS Scientist and Lead Author Tanya Gallegos. "We now have an improved understanding of where the practice is occurring and how hydraulic fracturing characteristics have changed over time."

Although fracking is in widespread use across the United States in most major oil and gas basins for the development of unconventional oil and gas resources, historically, Texas had the highest number of records of fracking treatments and associated wells documented in the datasets.

These datasets also illustrate the rapid expansion of water-intensive horizontal/directional drilling that has increased from 6 percent of new fracked wells drilled in the United States in 2000 to 42 percent of new wells drilled in 2010. Increased horizontal drilling also coincided with the emergence of water-based "slick water" fracturing fluids.

This is one example of how the most current fracking materials and methods are notably different from those used in previous decades and have contributed to the development of previously inaccessible unconventional oil and gas production target areas, namely in shale and tight-sand reservoirs.

See also:

"USGS mapping tool offers new method to analyze surface water hydrologic data"

"New USGS website offers data-driven insights on California drought"

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