NETL Releases Analysis of Fracture Growth and Gas Migration associated with Use of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale Formations

Today the DOE Office of Fossil Energy release of new analysis of the -- An Evaluation of Fracture Growth and Gas/Fluid Migration as Horizontal Marcellus Shale Gas Wells are Hydraulically Fractured in Greene County, Pennsylvania. This report documents the results from the first two years of a field study that monitored the induced fracturing of six horizontal Marcellus Shale gas wells in Greene County, PA, to evaluate fracture growth and liquid and gas migration out of hydraulically-fractured shale reservoirs.

The primary objectives of the analysis were to:
1) determine the maximum height of fractures created by hydraulic fracturing at this location, and
2) determine whether natural gas or fluids migrated – before, during, or after hydraulic fracturing – from the Marcellus Shale into a producing Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field 3,800 ft above the Marcellus Shale (and 1,300 ft below the deepest known groundwater aquifer at the site).

Results from microseismic monitoring showed that the impact of hydraulic fracturing on rock mass did not extend to the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field. Results from gas and fluid tracer monitoring showed no detectable migration of gas or aqueous fluids from the Marcellus Shale into the Upper Devonian/Lower Mississippian gas field during the monitored period after hydraulic fracturing.

Although the results of this study focus on monitoring at one location, we anticipate that the technical approach and results may be used to inform future research and decision-making related to unconventional oil and gas resource production. We are hopeful that you will find this new information of use in your work to ensure the continued prudent development of the nation's abundant natural gas resources.