Houston company taps shale play with propane-based technology

January 9, 2013 By    

Houston-based eCORP Stimulation Technologies LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of eCORP International LLC, used liquid propane to stimulate the Eagle Ford shale play at about 6,000 feet in a successful field demonstration, the company announced in a press release.

U.S. shale oil and gas production is usually carried out through a process called hydraulic fracturing, in which millions of gallons of fresh water, sand and chemicals are pumped at high pressures into shale rock formations thousands of feet underground to release the energy resources. The process using water has drawn criticism at times for its potential negative impacts to the environment.

According to eCORP, the field demonstration is part of its ongoing efforts to advance the development of shale gas in a sustainable manner and with minimal environmental impact. The test, completed in late December, was conducted in Frio County, Texas, southwest of Pearsall. The only fluid used to initiate the Eagle Ford stimulation was pure liquid propane. The test differed from past water or propane gel stimulations because no chemicals or additives of any kind were used, the company says.

“This represents [the company’s] first step in demonstrating that there are non-aqueous alternatives to stimulating a shale reservoir,” says Johnny Kopecky, vice president of international operations for eCORP, in a press release. “By utilizing propane, a fluid that originates in oil and gas reservoirs, we are minimizing damage in the reservoir while eliminating the need for any water usage and handling of water waste streams.”

The field demonstration also included a range of monitoring and data acquisition techniques to provide a comprehensive evaluation of the trial. These additional methods included use of an observation well for downhole microseismic, a specialized “pocket” in the tubing string of the treated well to obtain downhole pressures and temperatures during treatment, and environmental sampling of the air and noise, the company adds.

John Thrash, CEO and chairman of eCORP, says the company “intends to extend its design philosophy and demonstrate that a total reduced impact can be achieved through other innovations in drilling and exploration technologies.”

GasFrac Energy Services, a Canadian company, also is utilizing propane to tap shale oil and gas resources. LP Gas wrote about this technology in a 2012 article.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik was a senior editor at LP Gas Magazine.

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