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Halliburton Adapts US Submarine Spy Technology to Improve Fracking Efficiency

Acoustic spy technology used by US submarines is being adapted for use in the fracking industry. Halliburton is just one of the frilling companies that is developing the technology that will be able to record the slightest of sounds made deep within the earth, in order to accurately guide fracking engineers as they work to maximise the output of a well, and predict how much oil will flow.

According to PacWest Consulting Partners LLC, around $31 billion will be spent in 2013 on fracking wells that produce less than optimal results. This new technology will be able to vastly increase the output of these wells.

Magnus McEwan-King, the Managing Director of OptaSense, said that “this is very much the start of what I think is going to be a revolutionary technology.”

Related article: EIA report - U.S. #1 in Shale Gas Reserves, Russia #1 in Shale Oil Reserves

A thin fibre-optic cable, with the ability to sensors for sound and temperature along its entire length, is sent down into the fracking well to give engineers more detailed data on the success of the frack. According to Bloomberg, Halliburton is currently cataloguing the different sounds that would signal the perfect fracking stage; an explosion, cracking rock, and eventually the murmur of liquid hydrocrabons as they seep into the well. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, And Statoil are just some other companies that are also testing the technology.

After Halliburton completes its cataloguing, computers will be able to convert sounds read by the cable into a graph which will show exactly how thoroughly cracks have penetrated the shale rock due to the fracking process, giving an indication as to the success of the fracking stage.

Alex Robart, a principal at PacWest, explained that each well in the US is made up of around 15 fracking stages, with each stage costing around $100,000. 80% of the US shale oil and gas production is produced by wells in which hydrocarbons flow from only 20% of their fracking stages, that means that there is a lot of missed hydrocarbons.

Related article: Bad News for the Anti-Fracking Crowd

Glenn McColpin, director of reservoir monitoring at Halliburton, stated that their “whole goal is to make the perfect frack every time. You’re spending millions of dollars pumping millions of gallons of fluid, and if you’re only getting a third of the rock, you’re getting a third of the production.”

The market for these fibre-optic cables across all sectors, from energy to, military, is expected to grow from $586 million this year, to $1.1 billion by 2016; largely due to the predicted popularity of the technology in fracking.

By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com



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