Hydrofracturing

Hydrofracturing, commonly referred to as hydrofracking or ‘fracking, is a water well development process that involves injecting water under high pressure into a bedrock formation via the well. This is intended to increase the size and extent of existing bedrock fractures, thereby enlarging the network of water-bearing fractures as well as the size of the area supplying water to the well.

The procedure is often used to increase well yields of newly-drilled wells with marginal or inadequate production rates.

It may also be applied to older, existing wells that have progressively diminished production over time, which is usually an effect of mineralization and incrustation of rock fractures.

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Fracking

The ‘fracking process involves the installation of an inflatable or mechanical packer, which is placed in the well bore at least 20 feet below the well casing, and a drive shoe seal, placed at least 60 feet below the ground surface. The seal ensures that the process does not “break” the well or allow surface water contaminants (such as dirt or rock fragments) inside. The packer is then inflated or locked into position, and water is pumped through it under pressure. One or two packers may be used for this process.

When utilizing one packer, it is set near the top of the well, but at a minimum safe distance below the drive shoe. After the initial ‘frack sequence, the packer is deflated or unlocked, then lowered further into the hole. This process is repeated as many times as are necessary. “Straddle fracturing” utilizes a two-packer system where the packers are placed in series and water is pumped into the area between them. The process involves starting at the bottom of the well and working up in 40 to 60 foot increments.

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