Fracking with Propane Avoids Most Toxic Chemicals and Uses No Water

by Duane Nichols on November 9, 2011


GASFRAC Energy Services Inc’s.  LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) proprietary Fracturing Process utilizes gelled LPG in place of conventional fracturing fluids. The LPG is primarily propane, C3H8. The unique properties of this process result in significant savings on material expenses and fracture clean up, as well as increased well productivity.

Still awaiting a patent in the U.S., the technique has been used about 1,000 times since 2008, mainly in gas wells in the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia and New Brunswick and a smaller handful of test wells in states that include Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oklahoma and New Mexico.  “We leave the nasties in the ground, where they belong,” said Robert Lestz, the Chief Technology Officer with GasFrac, of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

David Burnett, a professor of petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University, one of the nation’s premier petroleum engineering schools, said fracking with propane makes sense. “From a reservoir engineering perspective, there is no reason this would not be effective,” said Burnett, who runs the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program, a project of the university and the Houston Advanced Research Center, a not-for-profit academic and business consortium. Supported by some of the nation’s largest energy companies, as well as by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the drilling program seeks new technologies that develop gas and oil in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.  Burnett said using gas instead of water can serve two ends — protecting the environment and reducing costs to the drilling industry of handling and disposing of tainted water.

Dominion Resources is in the process of constructing a new gas separation plant at Natrium in southern Marshall county.  They have just applied to the WV-DEP (Application WVR105726) for a permit for the following activity: “This application is for the discharge of stormwater associated with the installation of approximately 58 miles of propane pipeline within a 90 foot limit of disturbance. The project also includes approximately 20 miles of access roads and 3 laydown areas.”  This pipeline is to extend northward thru Ohio county into Brooke county, in the northern panhandle of WV.  This is propane that might well be available for LPG fracking in WV, PA, and OH.

Dominion has had some clean up problems at a Tank Farm associated with their established gas separation plant at Hastings, on WV Route 20 in Wetzel county.  This appears to be related to gasoline blending operations that occured in earlier years.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: