Part two: Modern fracking in Michigan is not your father’s frack

Part two: Modern fracking in Michigan is not your father’s frack by Lee Smith, September 16, 2012, The Midland Daily News
In my first article, I reviewed the modern fracking activity taking place in Michigan. … This article continues with a description of a specific well drilled in late 2011 in Kalkaska County, the Encana State Excelsior 1-25 HD1 (the 1-25 Well). In the 1-25 Well Encana successfully applied modern fracking to the Collingwood-Utica Shale (Collingwood) rocks. … Make no mistake — modern fracking is not your father’s frack. It is profoundly uninformative and disingenuous to state that we have been fracking for 50 years, and that modern fracking is just more of the same. It is true that the first frack in Michigan was performed in 1952 and that since 1952 more than 12,000 frack jobs have been done in Michigan. The rest of the story, however, is that the vast majority of frack jobs done prior to 2010 were of the type of fracks done in vertical, shallow Antrim Shale wells 1,000 to 1,500 feet deep in which a typical frack used less than 100,000 gallons of fluid carrying 20,000 to 50,000 pounds of sand.

As I describe the 1-25 Well, please note that this well involved not only a complex horizontal drilling and casing program to reach a measured depth 16,890 feet but also the injection of more than 8.4 million gallons of fresh water and chemicals, and the use of more than 5 million pounds of sand. … The 1-25 Well was drilled vertically to 8,462 feet and then the path of the well was turned to the horizontal by changing the angle of the well at a rate of approximately 10 degrees for every 100 feet. The purpose of changing the track of the well from vertical to horizontal at 8,462 feet is to have the well bore in contact with the targeted Collingwood/Utica rocks from a measured depth of 9,300 feet to a total measured depth of 16,890 feet. This drilling plan allowed the well bore of the 1-25 Well to stay in the targeted Utica/Collingwood reservoir for over a mile.

The 4 1/2-inch pipe which lined the 1-25 Well opposite the Collingwood rocks was perforated below 9,300 feet to gain access to natural gas, natural gas liquids and oil contained in the Collingwood. Pump trucks were used to create pressure opposite the perforations to hydraulically fracture (frack) the Utica/Collingwood formation. This fracking operation was conducted over 8,000 feet below the fresh water aquifers in the area of the 1-25 Well.

The record of well completion filed by Encana with the State of Michigan for the 1-25 Well shows more than 8.4 million gallons of fluid (water and chemicals) were pumped into the 1-25 well and 5.3 million pounds of sand were injected into the 1-25 Well to keep open the fractures initiated by the application of the pressure from the pump trucks. Information filed with the state on the 1-25 Well shows that from the time the 1-25 Well was fracked in October 2011 through May 2012, a total of 1.1 million gallons of fluid had returned to the surface (13 percent of the fluids used to frack the well). …

George King, writing in a Society of Petroleum Engineering publication, notes that flowback may range from as little as 5 percent in the Hayneville Shale to more than 50 percent in the Barnett and Marcellus Shales. Therefore, based on the history gained from fracking other formations, it is not surprising that a relatively small percentage of the frack fluid was recovered in the fracking of the Collingwood.

According to records filed with the state, 109,000 gallons of chemicals were used in the fracking of the 1-25 Well. The chemicals used were partially disclosed on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) at the time they were delivered to the well site. These MSDS sheets were posted on the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website. The eight MSDS sheets posted for the 1-25 Well list 13 chemicals with specific names and six chemicals listed as “proprietary.” Of the six listed as proprietary one was noted as an ethoxylated alcohol blend, one was reported as anionic polymers, two were noted anionic copolymer substances, and two had only the notation of “proprietary.”

The frack fluid returned to the surface, 1.1 million gallons, from the 1-25 Well was stored in steel tanks placed on a plastic liner covering the area of the well location. The fluid collected in the steel tanks was then trucked to two underground disposal wells (one in Grand Traverse County and the second in Kalkaska County). Records I viewed showed one well was drilled in 1982 to a total depth of 2,200 feet — the second well was drilled in 1985 to a total depth of 3,000 feet. Both wells are designated Class II disposal wells, and regulations mandate that disposal wells pass a mechanical integrity test (MIT) every five years. [Emphasis added]

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