Hydraulic fracking or fracturing refers to the process of drilling into the earth using a high-pressure water mixture directed at releasing oil and underground gasses. Water injection into the rocks force gasses to flow out of the well to the surface. The process is carried out vertically and can be done by drilling horizontally into the rock to create new pathways and extended channels. The process comprises drilling deep below the surface and then turning horizontal or sideways drilling to cover wider area. The Well made ready by fracking is then injected with water, sand & additives at high pressures to create micro fractures in rock and release of the trapped gas.
The high production costs of fracking can impact the profits and to bring it down, automation along with new techniques like zipper fracking can help. The oil/gas industry has been conservative with mostly employing use of mechanical & relay panels for their automation needs. But to increase efficiency and bring down the costs, automation can be adopted by use of PLC systems for real time data monitoring & control. The use of smart instrumentation along with wireless tech also enables precise control & monitor along with bringing down costs related to long distance cabling. Parameters like the operation of injection pumps or the level of the water tanks can be monitored in real time so that the operators could respond rapidly before there are any impacts to the production or the environment.
Fracking needs lot of water to drill a single Well with upto around 5 gallons. The scarce availability and stringent rules increase the water management challenges of the producers. Waste water management is another major part of the fracking process. The common way to dispose the produced water from fracking is by injection to closed reservoirs underground by transporting the produced water through trucks. The other alternative is to treat this water so that it can be reused. Treatment methods such as Reverse Osmosis (RO), Distillation, electrocoagulation can be employed to treat the produced water from the fracking process. Similar to fracking production process, the treatment of produced water could also employ automation technology to monitor the water treatment process and the fitness of the treated water.