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Trends in hydraulic fracturing distributions and treatment fluids, additives, proppants, and water volumes applied to wells drilled in the United States from 1947 through 2010: data analysis and comparison to the literature

January 12, 2015

Hydraulic fracturing is presently the primary stimulation technique for oil and gas production in low-permeability, unconventional reservoirs. Comprehensive, published, and publicly available information regarding the extent, location, and character of hydraulic fracturing in the United States is scarce. This national spatial and temporal analysis of data on nearly 1 million hydraulically fractured wells and 1.8 million fracturing treatment records from 1947 through 2010 (aggregated in Data Series 868) is used to identify hydraulic fracturing trends in drilling methods and use of proppants, treatment fluids, additives, and water in the United States. These trends are compared to the literature in an effort to establish a common understanding of the differences in drilling methods, treatment fluids, and chemical additives and of how the newer technology has affected the water use volumes and areal distribution of hydraulic fracturing. Historically, Texas has had the highest number of records of hydraulic fracturing treatments and associated wells in the United States documented in the datasets described herein. Water-intensive horizontal/directional drilling has also increased from 6 percent of new hydraulically fractured wells drilled in the United States in 2000 to 42 percent of new wells drilled in 2010. Increases in horizontal drilling also coincided with the emergence of water-based “slick water” fracturing fluids. As such, the most current hydraulic fracturing materials and methods are notably different from those used in previous decades and have contributed to the development of previously inaccessible unconventional oil and gas production target areas, namely in shale and tight-sand reservoirs. Publicly available derivative datasets and locations developed from these analyses are described.

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