What is Hydraulic Fracturing?
The first attempts to fracture hydrocarbon-bearing formations did not involve fluid design or significant amounts of data monitoring. The earliest foray into artificial channel stimulation of formations was accomplished by using explosives to “bust up” the low permeability formations. This technique was supplemented with acidizing in carbonates. The first true hydraulic fracturing treatment was performed in the late 1940s. The fluid used in the formation was military grade surplus napalm! Though this treatment proved to be dangerous and only marginally effective; it paved the way for the fracturing technology we know today.
Now, modern hydraulic fracturing technology has advanced far beyond simply pumping napalm or blasting with high explosives. Today, a hydraulic fracturing job is a very complex and technical process requiring both extensive technical knowledge and cooperation between many people. Early pumps had less than 1000 hydraulic horsepower. Today there are pump trucks with as high as 3000 hydraulic horsepower. The fluids that are used to fracture the formation are custom tailored to each job, and are a cocktail of chemicals designed to efficiently flow and carry the proppant.