Hydraulic fracturing continues to present new innovation opportunities on the energy scene which can/will transform the economy. See, for example, front page report in the May 28, 2011 New York Times ("Oil Hidden in Shale Sets Off a Boom in Texas"). According to this report, hydraulic fracturing is now being used to recover oil from "low-quality" shale in South Texas including the Eagle Ford site. The Times reports that more than a dozen companies plan to drill up to 3,000 wells in the next 12 months. Moreover, the fields were thought to be valueless five years ago, per the Times. However, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling were also developed for use with oil extraction, despite the larger molecules in oil compared to natural gas. Small-scale morphology including small diameter microholes and/or nanopores play a critical role in the extraction, and the small pore size can affect extraction. Of course, water remains a key issue as these developments move forward, particularly in areas of drought and limited water supply.
Chesapeake Energy, one company noted in this report, provides online the following media fact sheet re hydraulic fracturing:
The micro- and nano-scale aspects of shale oil and gas extraction should be the subject of intense government-sponsored research, as well as research on solutions to water problems. One example for recovery enhancement is the microseismic monitoring technology described in the attached DOE press, including the use of microholes to enhance recovery: