Chief among the technical advances are directional drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, which are often used together. In directional drilling, the well operator bores vertically down to the rock formation, then follows the formation horizontally. High-volume frackingthe focus of recent attention and public concernis defined by the state of Michigan as a well that uses more than 100,000 gallons of hydraulic fracturing fluid. For reference, an Olympic-size swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons of water.
Since the late 1940s, an estimated 12,000 gas and oil wells have been drilled in Michigan using hydraulic fracturing, without any reported contamination issues. Most of those wells have been relatively shallow vertical wells that each used about 50,000 gallons of water.
But recently, a small number of deep, directionally drilled, high-volume hydraulically fractured wells have been completed in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. Those wells sometimes use several million gallons of water, and one Michigan well required more than 20 million gallons.
Since 2010, when the Petoskey Pioneer Well spurred interest in high-volume hydraulically fractured wells in Michigan, 19 such wells are known to have been completed in the state, according to Sara Gosman, a lecturer at the U-M Law School and author of the technical report on policy/law.
In the public perceptions report, authors Kim Wolske and Andrew Hoffman of the U-M Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise note that chemical additives in high-volume hydraulic fracturing fluids "remain a primary point of contention f
|Contact: Jim Erickson|
University of Michigan