Letters to the Observer: Retired petroleum engineer explains hydralic fracturing


Mr. S. Farkash is also partially incorrect in his Jan. 20 letter to the Observer. Hydraulic fracturing has never been a “drilling process,” vertical nor horizontal — it is only a small but an important part of the “completion process.” The two processes are connected (first a well is drilled and then it is completed) but they are distinctly different in time and substance and equipment on location.

Hydraulic fracturing was developed by Standard of Indiana sub Stanolind Oil (now a part of BP) in their research lab in Tulsa Oklahoma in the late 1940s. It was developed in answer to a national need to better exploit oil and gas reserves from existing domestic reservoirs that had been over-produced in response to the World War II war effort.

This over-production resulted in a major potential for reduced ultimate recovery because of depleted reservoir pressures required to move hydrocarbons to the producing well bores.

The field testing was done in southwest Kansas Hugton gas field and in southwest Oklahoma oil fields. The testing was done by Halliburton in conjunction with Stanolind supervisory (my father included) and field personnel, all on existing vertical wells.

No drilling involved.

Since then, there has been a magnitude of improvements to the process. Some improvements have allowed the extension of its use to existing horizontal and S-curve well bores. The ability to increase the recovery of domestic in-ground reserves through the use of hydraulic fracturing has been of significant importance to the world and especially in our USA, as we know and enjoy it.

As for drilling new wells in the Sandoval County part of the greater Albuquerque Basin: The recent published work by the experts in Socorro confirmed and supported past geological studies that there is no realistic economic potential for development of hydrocarbons. Based on this as a retired petroleum engineer, I see no reasonable justification for new drilling in this area to develop hydrocarbons.

The data would be nice, but the social and community costs far outweigh the potential information, in my opinion.


Walt Pearson

Rio Rancho