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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Saturday Morning Math: Fracking 101

I finally took the time to do some quick calculations necessary to answer a question I had regarding the volume of bedrock fractured by a modern-day lateral well extending 5,000 feet vs. an older-style "one hole straight down single frack" ( SHSF ) well.

Within the past year, I remember reading an article indicating the the volume of rock fractured by a single hole well ( SHSF ) was a sphere roughly 300 feet in diameter; about the length of a football field. Once the drill bit is turned as it enters the Marcellus Shale formation, today's lateral wells extend out 5,000 feet or more before the hydrofracturing phase begins.

So...all you need to do is calculate the volume of a sphere with a radius of 150 feet (A) and compare it to the volume of a cylinder with the same radius and a length of 5,000 feet (B). 

Drumroll, please:

A: Volume of sphere:      14,137,166.9 cubic feet

B: Volume of cylinder: 353,429,173.5 cubic feet

Um, er...that can't be right. The volume of a cylinder with the same radius as the sphere fractures 25 times more bedrock!?!?

Unfortunately, it is correct. Check it out for yourself here.

And taking it to the next logical step, a wellpad may does have multiple laterals drilled in multiple directions. So, if a wellpad has 8 laterals heading in 8 different directions, with each lateral extending 5,000 feet from the drilling rig, that one single modern-day wellpad fractures 200 times more bedrock than an old single-hole single-frack well of years gone by.

And with 100,000 or more wells being planned for the decades ahead in the Marcellus Shale Zone, well...you do the math.

God, I do thank You for Saturday mornings. They refresh my soul and strengthen me for the days ahead.

Have a great weekend, folks.


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