Shale Gas Drillers May Use LPG To Circumvent Anti-Frackers

Switch to liquid petroleum gas may break New York State's deadlock over fracking risks and fracking waste issues.

Published on: Apr 3, 2012

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing, also called "fracking", have long objected to the injection of potentially hazardous chemicals into natural gas wells. Now, a newer technology employing liquid propane gas is taking the gas drilling industry by storm. And in New York State, it appears to be circumventing state fracking regulations.

A recent Chevron report recommending liquefied petroleum gas hydraulic fracturing process is "the strongest endorsement" that the method has received from a major firm, writes independent investor Nawar Alsaadi. "The waterless LPG fracturing method is gaining favor over conventional fracking, and study data continues to confirm the superiority of LPG fracturing. It'll only accelerate the adoption of this revolutionary process, contends Alsaadi.

Shale Gas Drillers May Use LPG To Circumvent Anti-Frackers
Shale Gas Drillers May Use LPG To Circumvent Anti-Frackers

Last Thursday, a deal was brokered between eCorp, GasFracEnergy Services and a landowners group in Southern Tier of Tioga County (New York) to begin developing the Marcellus and Utica shale using liquid propane or a propane-butane mix as a fracking agent. As a STEP principal, Jim Leonard, a natural gas consultant from Endicott, N.Y., is extremely excited about the prospects for landowners. Click on related story: gasleasingsnags .

The parties believe that fracking with LPG is not included under a New York state moratorium that prevents drillers from using high volume hydraulic fracturing. The deal has been accepted in concept by the leaders of the coalition. It'll be brought to the membership base of about 2,000 families in coming weeks. The deal may open up to 135,000 acres of Marcellus and Utica shale to what's considered a more environmentally compatible oil and gas field development.

eCORP would serve as operator. It plans to employ "pad" drilling where a number of wellheads are confined to a smaller footprint than conventional rigs. It also would eliminate the need for large quantities of fresh water – several million gallons per well – and waste processing.

The pending environmental review puts a hold on fracking with chemical solution in New York until the impact is better documented and new guidelines are established. The policy review, called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS), may not apply to fracking with propane.

But some have questioned whether propane fracking is covered under pre-existing regulations. If not, then the Tioga County project would require separate environmental reviews that could be costly and time consuming.