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Over 100 Years of Success: The History of Hydraulic Fracturing

<img class="size-full wp-image-195 alignright" src=" recommended you read.jpg” alt=”mwd-drilling” width=”100″ height=”100″ />Hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking, is often presented as a new technology by those unfamiliar with this extraction method. In fact, the use of water and other liquids as a fracturing mechanism was first implemented during the Civil War, more than 100 years ago. Colonel Edward A. L. Roberts discovered the principle behind fracking by using torpedoes to explode canals that blocked progress across battlefields. He patented his discovery in 1865 under the name of the “Exploding Torpedo,” and it was generally used until the 1930s to increase oil production in artesian well locations. Later advances, including measurement while drilling (MWD) techniques, have revolutionized the art and science of hydraulic fracturing. Investing in professional MWD training is essential to achieve the best and safest results during fracking operations.

Shooting Wells

The process patented by Colonel Roberts was used to increase the production of oil wells by as much as 1200 percent. The Roberts Petroleum Torpedo Company was founded to serve the needs of the oil industry and charged as much as $200 per nitroglycerine torpedo, a considerable sum in the years immediately following the Civil War. The results were impressive and spurred competition from a number of other companies that wished to share in these profits. The patents held by Colonel Roberts prevented these firms from using his process, however, and shooting wells soon became standard procedure for oil companies in the states of Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

A Shift in Approach

In the 1930s, hydraulic fracturing was revolutionized by the introduction of acidic fluids as a replacement for the explosives previously used to stimulate production in oil and gas wells. Further experimentation resulted in the development of even more effective extraction methods. In 1949, the Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company acquired a patent on a fracking procedure that incorporated sand, treated gasoline and water to create numerous cracks in an existing oil well. This general approach continues to be used in the oil industry to the present day:

  • A proppant, usually sand, ceramics or a mix of both, is combined with treated water and injected under pressure into an oil well or shale bed.
  • The high pressure of this suspension causes cracks in the rock and allows oil to be released from pockets and cavities inside the rock or shale, thus stimulating higher production from the well or field.

To achieve the best possible results from this process, it is necessary to position the drill equipment precisely. MWD kits can provide added information to drill operators to assist in pinpointing the right directional and vertical location for optimal results.

MWD in Action

By providing a steady flow of information regarding drilling conditions, MWD equipment can increase the effectiveness of fracking operations. The data provided by these systems typically includes the following:

  • Real-time directional surveys to ensure accurate results
  • Temperatures and vibrations downhole
  • Rotational speeds for drill bits
  • Torque readings
  • Ongoing volumes of mud flow

This information can allow faster response times and increased accuracy throughout the drilling process. By ensuring that equipment is positioned correctly and that all aspects of the downhole operation are monitored and recorded, MWD systems can streamline the process and ensure the most effective extraction of oil from wells, fields and shale formations.

Working with a company that specializes in MWD equipment can provide added support for the workflows and processes involved in oil extraction. These firms typically provide MWD technical support to ensure that these advanced monitoring systems are operating at maximum efficiency and that operators have the MWD training needed to read and interpret the results. The hydraulic fracturing process has changed considerable since Colonel Roberts first blew up a well with a torpedo. MWD kits are one more tool in the arsenal of the modern petrochemical industry.

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1521 E. Richey Road
Houston, TX 77073

Phone: 281-664-0196
Fax: 281-664-0199
On Call: 713-203-5315

Training and Support

We repair and maintain our products so they are in drill-ready condition. We also provide comprehensive training to make sure you are armed with all the information you need to efficiently operate our equipment.

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