Paper No. 141-2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM
HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF WELL STIMULATION TECHNOLOGIES VIA HYDRAULIC FRACTURING
Interest in the production of natural gas from shale has its roots in the early 1820s. Technological innovation and entrepreneurship in enhancing oil production commenced in the 1860s. Since such time, a myriad of innovative well stimulation techniques have been pursued to enhance overall oil and gas production. Many of these techniques owe their origins to technological developments and advances within the military complex. Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation technique that fractures rock using pressurized fluids. Historically, its development can be divided into four major phases: Explosives and Guns (1820s-1930s); The Birth of the Petroleum Engineer (1940s-1950s); Going Nuclear during Peak Oil (1960s-mid1970s); and The Rise of the Unconventionals (mid1970s-present). The concept of fracturing rock adjacent to a well bore can be traced back to the Civil War years with the use of explosives and development of the petroleum torpedo. The use of technology developed during World War I and the early work of Henry Mohaupt (1915-2001) would lead to downhole well casing perforators and perforating guns. Chemistry comes into play with the early work of Herman Frasch (1851-1914) and with the development of acidizing treatments under pressure. Hydraulic fracturing in a more modern context has its domestic roots in the late 1940s, with members of the Stanolind Oil and Gas Company. Similar development was evident in the 1950s in the Soviet Union, and by the 1970s and 1980s in Western Europe. After World War II well stimulation would go nuclear. Nuclear fracking makes a cameo appearance in the 1960s. Other techniques to enhance well stimulation during this period such as water injection and squeeze-cementing techniques were also being developed. With the development of horizontal drilling techniques, concomitant with developments in the use of fluids and proppants, pumping and blending equipment, and fracture-treatment design, these advances would have a profound and dramatic impact in the number of producing oil and gas fields nationwide, and the significant role unconventional resources would play in the future. Notably, within a decade the United States would be transformed from energy dependency to an energy exporter.