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Fracking With Propane- Anyone Familiar With This New Technology?

I have been reading through a presentation on a new fracing technique that uses LP gas instead of water. With the EPA trying to outlaw conventional frac techniques I could see where this new technology could really take off. here is a link to the Pressure (P) - psi

Pressure (psi) = Force (lb) / Area in Square Inch (in 2)

Pressure Gradient (G) - psi/ft

Mud Gradient ( Psi/ft ) = Mud weight ( PPG) x 0.052

Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) - psi

Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) = Mud weight (PPG) x 0.052 x TVD (ft)

You may have seen this triangle before but I need to emphasize on this because it will let you see all relationship of the hydrostatic pressure.

If you want to solve for MW or TVD, fill in the known information in these equations below;

Bottom Hole Pressure (BHP) - psi

Under static condition

Bottom Hole Pressure (BHP) = Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) + Surface Pressure (SP)

Under dynamic condition, use the following equation.

Bottom Hole Pressure (BHP) = Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) + Surface Pressure (SP) + Frictional Pressure (FrP)

Note: Frictional pressure acts opposite way of flow direction.

Formation Pressure (FP) - psi

After get Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure, you can calculate the formation pressure from this following relationship;

Formation Pressure (FP) = Hydrostatic Pressure (HP) + Shut-In Drill Pipe Pressure (SIDPP)

Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) , ppg

Equivalent Circulating Density (ECD) ,ppg = (annular pressure loss, psi) ÷ 0.052 ÷ true vertical depth (TVD), ft + (current mud weight, ppg)

Leak-off Test Equivalent Mud Weight (LOT), ppg

Leak off test (ppg) = (Leak off test pressure in psi) ÷ 0.052 ÷ (Casing Shoe TVD in ft) + (Mud Weight used for LOT in ppg)

Maximum Initial Shut-In Casing Pressure (MISICP), psi

This calculation is based on shoe fracture which is equal to Leak Off Test Pressure.

MISICP (psi) = [LOT (ppg) – Current Mud Weight (ppg)] x 0.052 x Shoe TVD (ft)

Kill Mud Weight to Balance Formation (KMW), ppg

KWM (ppg) = [Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure (SIDP), psi ÷ (0.052x True Vertical Depth (TVD) of the well, ft)] + Original Mud Weight (ppg)

Slow Circulation Rate (SCR), psi

SCR (psi) = Initial Circulating Pressure (psi) – Shut In Drill Pipe Pressure (psi)

Annulus Capacity Factor (ACF),bbl/ft

Final Circulating Pressure (FCP), psi

Surface To Bit Strokes, strokes

Circulating Time, mins

Capacity Factor (CF), bbl/ft

Opened End Pipe Displacement, bbl/ft

Closed end pipe displacement, bbl/ft

Height of Influx, ft

Approximate gas migration rate, ft/hr

Sacks of Barite Required For Weight-up, sx

Volume Gain From Slug, bbl

Triplex Pump Output (volume), bbl/stroke

Pump Output, bbl/min

New Pump Pressure With New Pump Strokes, psi

Boyle’s Law - Gas Pressure and Volume Relationship

Mud Increment for Volumetric Method (MI), bbl

Lube Increment for Lubricate and Bleed Method (LI), bbl

Bottle Capacity Required, gal

Volume of Usable Fluid, gal



Obvious benefits of LP fracs from the investor presentation include:


  • LPG fracturing is a sustainable process for oil & gas operators by using products they produce to produce more hydrocarbons
  • LPG fracturing eliminates the use of millions of gallons of potable water per well.
  • LPG reduces the need to flare production to clean up the traditional fracturing fluids,eliminating thousands of tons of C02 emissions generating carbon credits that have a substantial dollar value
  • Eliminates the disposal of millions of gallons of non potable frac water
  • Eliminates the need for biocide chemicals that are required in fracturing


The list of possible benefits goes on-but I am wondering what the downside to fracing well with LPG might be. Depending on EPA rulings, this could turn into big business overnight.

I look forward to comments on this discussion

Views: 2754

Tags: Frac, LPG, New, technology

Comment by Wayne Nash on September 22, 2010 at 3:34pm
Sounds like it might be mighty expensive. Plus the low vis wouldn't carry much propant.
Comment by Raymond L. Boyle on September 28, 2010 at 1:41am
Safety Consultant, just completed first series of Propane Fracs in US for client in West Texas. Tight Hole on results. VERY promising for shale plays.

Average proceedure has 60 tons of propane/butane on location & pumped. Major planning, proceedures required. Must be exicuted as a portable "Closed Loop" procees to ensure safety issues.

Brahma Safety is the only Safety service company with Propane Frac experience. brahmasafety.com
Comment by Raymond L. Boyle on September 28, 2010 at 1:50am
Propane is gelled, blended. Propane cost recovered @ plant down sales line, approx 90+ %..
Comment by DeeperCheaper on October 3, 2010 at 10:41pm
Hey Curtis!!! Been missing you! Why did you quit posting!!!!!!!! tehehehehe...

I want to extend a big thanks to you for the research you do for this site, not to mention the policing of the same. I'd never heard of this propane frac technology until I logged in tonight just to see what was going on.

I will run some traps on this and report back if I see anything worthwhile, but heres's my first blush.

This ain't gonna cut it in the majority of the movin' and shakin' that's going on in the continental US, and once again I'm speculating. I just commissioned the building of an above ground frac pit (earthen, lined with plastic to prevent seepage). My engineering specs say they want to be able to pull 120,000 bbls of water out of this pit in a four day period. This is in the Eagle Ford Shale play in Karnes county, TX

Anybody wanna send me a check for 120,000 bbls of liquid propane so I don't have to build this pit????

Get my drift????

Now Hear This!!! There are a lot of small frac's that are done every day around the country where they co-mingle CO2 or nitrogen with the frac fluid (on a much smaller scale) because the CO2 or nitrogen will make the well kick itself off so they don't have to stay out there two weeks burning up swab cups. It works or the cutting edge of the American Petroleum Industry wouldn't be doing it!!

Now here's the caveat ( "caveat" is Latin for getting sex but not enjoying it!!! )

If you frac your well with CO2 or nitrogen, you will recover most of it in the first few days and the pipeline won't catch that on their monthly QC if you are lucky.

What you do if you want to "caveat" the pipeline is you use propane as your accelerant and make SURE the pipeline takes a sample the day you start flowing the frac back!!! They will record a healthy dose of propane for a day or two.

Your skinny assed 990 btu gas just went to 1430 btu and you'll get a whole month's worth of royalty checks at that value!!!!!

Dang it........I shoulda been a criminal instead of a consultant!!!!!!!!

Love to all,
Deeper, serious as ever!!!!!!!!!!
Comment by Drilling Ahead on October 4, 2010 at 7:09am
Hi Jim
This came in email sometime back explaining to me a little more about the process.

"Curtis wanted to know about using LPG in fracking. Has he talked to Weatherford International about their Weatherford International Magnum C02 Foam Frac L which reportedly doubles the flow rate after the job is completed?

The Great Plains Synfuel plant in North Dakota has pumped C02 from its gassification operation to the oil and gas fields in Weyburne Saskatchewan since 2000. Several million tons of C02 have been injected into the wells there. We used to collect naturally occuring and commerically produced C02 and pump it from Colorado to the Permian Basin in West texas for secondary and tertiary recovery techniques.

Now the great Plains Synfuel plant has gone a step further and used a Nickel Catalyst for Methanation to create Methane gas. Or,you can convert the C02 to carbon Monoxide, which can be used in industry or can be combined with Hydrogen to make Methanol. Aurora Biofuels now has at least 4 algaes that work great to absorb C02 from the alage pond after it is injected from the power plants near by. The chemical engineering is there to make a series of zero emission platforms at the power plants,Synfuel plants, fertilizer plants,refineries, factories,etc. LPG is to valuable as a fuel source,so let us utilize other gases in our frac jobs. We can follow along with the Schwartze Pump power plant in Spremburg Germany. They are already set up to capture over 80% of the C02 being produced from the power plant. This will be compressed using power during non peak electricity production peroids in the evening. Then it can be transported by pipeline or Multi-Modal pressure tanks to "depleted" gas wells in Europe to allow secondary and tertiary recovery of the methane gas by fracking those formations.

European gas production companies are already paying billions to be able to wean themselves from Russian natural gas by using technology already being used by production companies in the USA and Canada. Five years ago, nobody would have even considerd natural gas production from the Horn River Shale and the Montney Shale formation in British Columbia. Now, modern extraction techniques are producing light sweet crude oil with very little water being present. The EIA maps show all of the basins in North America where we still have not exploited the natural gas and oil formations.

Drill baby Drill...Frack Baby Frack!"


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