Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as it is commonly known, is the only technology capable of enabling our most abundant, affordable energy resources to be put to work in people's lives. It is essential to producing oil and natural gas resources from tight rock and shale formations. Without it, oil and natural gas production cannot economically occur.

Anadarko’s commitment to sustainable development is readily apparent in our innovative hydraulic fracturing operations, which are conducted with a commitment to stakeholder engagement and Health, Safety & Environment (HSE) excellence

Process Overview

Cross Section of a Horizontal WellCross-section of a Typical
Horizontal Well

Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluid (generally consisting of water, sand and a proportionately small amount of additives) under pressure through multiple protective layers of steel pipe, cement and rock into a pre-determined oil or natural gas-bearing formation. The water and pressure open microscopic pathways, which are the width of a human hair and propped open by grains of sand. These pathways allow the natural gas or oil to flow through the wellbore and be produced at the surface. Hydraulic fracturing is generally applied to formations that are a mile or more below the surface (4,000 to 14,000 feet); whereas, potential sources of ground water typically reside much closer to the surface (between 100 and 500 feet). 

To ensure wellbore integrity in our U.S. onshore assets, we work to exceed the minimum requirements for cement tops so that zones that could affect groundwater are covered. Cement is either brought to surface or a temperature log is run. All steel pipe is pressure tested before drillout, and in many cases the surface casing is tested a second time prior to running intermediate casing. Additionally, centrilizers are used for all surface casing strings and cement slurries are tested on multiple occasions for specified properties prior to being pumped downhole. Finally, we source our steel pipe from respected steel suppliers with the highest standards for manufacturing quality assurance and quality control.

Hydraulic Fracturing Committee

In October 2012, Anadarko formed an internal Hydraulic Fracturing Committee that assists the company’s management in continuously monitoring, evaluating and addressing matters related to its hydraulic fracturing operations.

What’s in It?

The ingredients used in fracking fluids vary according to geology. In general terms, water makes up more than 90 percent of the solution; sand or proppant constitutes approximately 9 percent; and additives make up less than 1 percent of the total volume. The relatively small amount of additives generally consists of friction reducers, biocides to prevent bacterial development and scale inhibitors. This pie chart available at FracFocus shows a general breakout of typical ingredients.

Anadarko supports the public sharing of the ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing. We were instrumental in the creation of the Ground Water Protection Council’s hydraulic fracturing online registry, which makes this information available to anyone, any time at FracFocus.

As part of Anadarko’s commitment to data integrity and disclosure of chemicals used in our hydraulic fracturing process, we believe periodic reviews of the data posted to FracFocus is important. The reviews enable us to identify areas for improvement in efficiency and they provide opportunities to strengthen our quality-control systems. These improvements help prevent potential issues by improving clarity and accuracy.

Anadarko has a strict policy against using diesel fuel in fracking fluids and has communicated this policy to its company’s contract service providers.

In addition, Anadarko is continuously working to reduce the potential toxicity of all fracking fluids, including reducing and/or eliminating BTEX as an ingredient or sub ingredient.  

Chemical Assessment Rating Evaluator

Anadarko continually strives to utilize the most advanced technology with the highest environmental profile, which also provides better economic value. We assess both the material and the technique when reviewing different additives and procedures utilized for hydraulic fracturing operations.

Recently, Anadarko began a project to help make this assessment process more reliable and repeatable. The HSE Department along with chemical specialists and outside environmental consultants collaborated to develop the first version of Chemical Assessment Rating Evaluator (CARE).

CARE provides a rigorous review of chemicals and their relationship to human health based on the United Nations Global Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Guidelines, EPA lists of water and air pollutants and volatile organics, and utilizes other reputable U.S. and European databases. Utilizing the information provided on Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), each component of a product can be analyzed, and the score for the product is calculated. Once a specific product has been scored, its relative environmental profile can be compared to other materials that provide the same functionality within the fracturing process. The CARE assessments enable the completion engineers to utilize this quantitative measure to improve the environmental profile (including protection of workers and community health) of fluids and dry materials used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Regulatory Compliance

Conducting Processes Safely

Diagram of Well Construction
and Casing Structure

We work under the oversight of regulators and various agencies to ensure that our drilling, hydraulic fracturing, production and water-handling processes are conducted safely and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations. These regulations are in place to ensure that produced water and all additives used in the hydraulic fracturing process are properly handled, stored, recycled and/or disposed. Additionally, the laws require that personnel and first responders be made aware of all materials present at each well location.

In addition to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), other governmental agencies that provide regulatory oversight directly addressing various aspects of fracture stimulation, water management, well integrity and underground injection include:

  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) under the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
  • EPA
  • State oil and natural gas regulatory agencies
  • State environmental regulatory agencies

Confidential Business Information

As a producer, we are required by state and federal law (set forth in 29 C.F.R. §1910.1200) to keep MSDS, which are prepared and provided by the third-party supplier. The MSDS describe the ingredients used in hydraulic fracturing in detail at each well location. OSHA regulations govern the content of the MSDS. OSHA established the criteria for the disclosure of this information including protecting “trade secret” and "confidential” business information and how this information is reported on the MSDS.

Anadarko does provide the information from the MSDS, which includes all of the ingredients that we are legally permitted to share, to FracFocus. Anadarko is not permitted by law to disclose ingredients used by service contractors that are protected as “trade secret.”

Questions regarding the content of the MSDS should be directed to the supplier that provided it. Anadarko is not responsible for inaccurate and/or incomplete information in the MSDS.

In an effort to increase transparency regarding our hydraulic fracturing chemicals used in operations, We encourage our vendors to utilize a fracturing fluid systems approach, which enables  the disclosure of the materials within the chemicals without the need to claim confidential business information (CBI) for proprietary formulas. We also worked closely with the Ground Water Protection Council to design the fracturing chemical registry website FracFocus to similarly disclose all raw materials used for hydraulic fracturing operations rather than proprietary formulas.

Anadarko supports the industry’s use of the Groundwater Protection Council’s fracturing chemical registry website FracFocus, to enhance transparency of the fracturing process.

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