The use of fresh water as a fracturing fluid has limitations. These include limited availability in arid areas, perceived threats to water resources, and potentially negative impacts on production in some types of formations, such as those with high clay content. Additionally, concerns encompass transport and disposal costs and associated induced seismicity, and potential environmental risks. Overcoming these concerns can lead to better, more economical wells, reduced formation damage and a smaller environmental footprint.
To reduce fresh water use in fracturing, or to replace it entirely, a variety of alternative methods available. These methods include using produced water, sea water, foam, recycled or local ground water or replacing water entirely as a base fluid with liquids such as CO2, ammonia or hydrocarbons.
Alternatives to fracturing include using tailored energetic materials such as novel high explosives, deflagrating solid propellants and liquid or gaseous propellant injection with subsequent down hole ignition. Furthermore, modification of formation properties using chemical or thermal effects can be accomplished adding to tools available for stimulation or re-stimulation. Although many of these techniques have been tried in the past, new approaches and a more thorough understanding may lead to their optimization in the future. These methods and even more speculative options including methods of increasing fluid mobility within the matrix will be discussed during this Forum.
In each case the viability of the method, and the limits and benefits that would encourage or discourage its use will be addressed.