By David Wethe
Jan 10, 2012
As regulators and environmentalists study whether hydraulic fracturing can damage the environment, industry scientists are studying ways to create longer, deeper cracks in the earth to release more oil and natural gas.
Energy companies are focused on boosting production and lowering costs associated with so-called fracking, a technique that uses high-pressure injections of water, sand and chemicals to break apart petroleum-saturated rock. The more thoroughly the rock is cracked, the more oil and gas will flow from each well.
The world’s largest oilfield service providers are leading the search for new technologies, with some companies focused on splintering the rock into a web of tiny fissures, and others seeking to create larger crevices in the richest zones.
“I want to crack the rock across as much of the reservoir as I can,”
said David Pursell, a former fracking engineer who’s now an analyst at Tudor Pickering Holt & Co. in Houston.“That’s the Holy Grail.”
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