What the Frack?

I was doing some research recently for an article in ONG (Oil & Natural Gas) sector practice that is making huge headlines recently called “fracking”.

For those who ask What the Frack?

Fracking, or Frack, (or hydraulic fracturing – oh my, how much we love shortening things into cute names) is a procedure in which essentially you are fracturing (or cracking) things with hydraulics hoping to find oil or gas. Essentially this gives us an opportunity to do horizontal drilling which was otherwise impossible.

Conventional places are running dry so we need to find new sources – oil out of sand, gas out of rocks. We are becoming God by performing these miracles!

What you might already know is that Fracking has led to the recent energy boom in the USA. As high as 70% of current drilling is using fracking process. You might also know about the debates about the environmental concerns, pollution and flowback issues. There is even an argument that fracking produces micro seismic events. (There are atleast 3 established quakes, and many micro seismic events, of magnitude of 4.0 or higher that are linked to fracking.)

What you may not know is that how inefficient the fracking process is.  It is one of the most inefficient processes ever. 80% of the production usually comes from 20% of the frack stages. (DrNo Frackillers spent an estimated $31 billion in 2013 on sub-optimal frack stages across 26,100 U.S. wells.)

The enormous complexity of the data sources generated during exploration and production processes makes it difficult to make fracking better and safer at the same time. The petabyte of datasets  produced include images (seismic, mud logs, well logs, offset logs, etc.), sounds (of drilling, fracking, completion and production, etc.), videos (cameras monitoring down hole fluid flow; fiber optics monitoring pressure, temperature, strain; etc.), texts (notes taken by drillers and frack pumpers, etc.) and numbers (production data, artificial lift data, etc.).

Maximizing production and minimizing environment disruption is part art and part science using this massive hybrid data.

Alright, this is just a teaser to my article that is coming out on GigaOm this weekend. I will post as soon as it is published here or you can check GigaOm this weekend.

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About Andy Thurai
This blog is published by Andy Thurai, Program Director - API Economy, IoT, Connected cloud solutions with IBM. The views expressed here are my own and not of my employer. Please feel free to comment or engage in a stimulating conversation, but please keep it professional. I can be reached via the “Contact Me” page here. You can also find me on LinkedIn or on Twitter @AndyThurai

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