Sector News

Air Liquide CEO: Oil slump spurs new fracking trend

November 26, 2015

Waterless fracking has been sought after by scientists ever since the shale boom was a boom. But the urgency of the downturn in oil prices has cast a new light on the developments in water-free well fracking, Mike Graff, CEO at Air Liquide USA LLC, told the Houston Business Journal.

Air Liquide SA, which is based in Paris and has its Americas hub in Houston, recently announced its plans to acquire Pennsylvania-based Airgas Inc. (NYSE: ARG) for $13.4 billion.

“In the whole fracking process, where you utilize large quantities of water, obviously the demand for that water, the need for that water and the questions of water conservancy come into play,” said Graff. “We’ve actually been able to work with companies to reduce the amount of water you use in the fracking process and replace that with liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide to help perform the actual frack itself at the well site. So that’s been a benefit to everyone because you reduce the amount of water you need, and in some formations it actually creates a more efficient way to liberate the gas.”

Interest in this revamped fracking process has increased in light of oil and gas producers aggressively seeking ways to increase the productivity of their existing wells, said Graff.

“So we’ve been able to go ahead and deploy these new technological ideas in the space that has not only benefitted the operation itself in terms of commercial availability, but also from an environmental standpoint,” said Graff.

In late 2014, researchers at the Colorado School of Mines studied the effects of “cryogenic fracturing” and released results claiming that the fissures formed in cryogenic fracturing can be larger than those created by hydraulic fracturing, which allows more oil and gas to flow.

By Suzanne Edwards

Source: Houston Business Journal

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