Hydraulic fracturing is a process used in most oil and gas wells in the U.S. Water, sand and small amounts of chemicals are pumped underground to break apart the rock and release trapped gas and oil. The technology was developed in the 1940s, and has been used in many tens of thousands of wells in the U.S. and worldwide. In the 1990s, hydraulic fracturing began to be applied to wells that were drilled horizontally into reservoirs such as shales. The success of the technology has resulted in abundant new supplies of natural gas and oil in the U.S. It is a safe and effective method used to extract energy from the Earth, and while it is an industrial process it can be done in harmony with the environment.
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With an estimated 7 to 10 billion barrels of oil lying in wait, the Eagle Ford is one of the largest unconventional resource plays under development globally. Over 3,200 wells were completed in the region in 2013 alone. To date, oil and gas activity in the Eagle Ford has created 116,000 jobs and contributed $60 billion to the U.S. economy. That’s impressive, considering just five years ago the Eagle Ford was virtually inactive. The first commercial discovery in 2008 by Petrohawk Energy (now part of BHP Billiton) – a well that flowed at 7.6 million cubic feet of gas per day – launched a surge of activity that is still growing today.Now, top E&Ps like EOG, Chesapeake, Marathon, ConocoPhillips and Anadarko have large-scale operations in the Eagle Ford. The region has become a prime target for investment because of its favorable economics, established infrastructure, proximity to demand centers, and staggering resource availability. Companies with prime locations are seeing more than a 100% rate of return, and the current pace of drilling is expected to continue for at least five more years.
The oil and gas industry has a long-standing history of transforming itself through the development of new technologies. One of its most valuable innovations is pad drilling. This process enables operators to shorten cycle time by drilling multiple wells in tight clusters with minimal time spent rigging up or moving rigs. With multi-well sites, operators have been able to increase production rates while simultaneously decreasing rig counts. And because pad drilling is more efficient, the reductions in drilling time yield substantial cost savings. In the first quarter of 2014, the industry saw a 70% increase in the growth of pad drilling for horizontal wells. These efficiencies are paving the way for future advancements.