Day 2 and 2 ½ of Unconventional Gas Conference

The last day and a half of the SPE Unconventional Gas Conference (UGC) in Pittsburgh was also jam-packed with content, though by the morning of the final day the crowd was noticeably sparser.

Some recurring themes throughout the conference papers on shale gas plays were the crucial role of microseismic for monitoring frac effectiveness, and use of proppant—the consensus being you can’t really use too much proppant in these shale gas operations.  I hope to cover these topics in more detail in later blog posts.

Matt Blauch from Superior Well Services delivered an excellent presentation based on his paper SPE 131784, Developing Effective and Environmentally Suitable Fracturing Fluids Using Hydraulic Fracturing Flowback Waters.  I plan to follow up with Matt for additional details for this blog; he discussed work that SWSI has been doing to re-use flowback water for safe and effective fracking operations.

Matt began by acknowledging that some people in our industry don’t like discussing the environmental aspects of our work, something I’ve observed but I’m not sure I understand.

It seems to me that as an industry we continue to improve in all aspects of our operations—which includes more effective and safer operations, including preventing and addressing environmental concerns. Yes, it adds expense and complexity to already expensive and complex operations. But as stewards of the energy industry—which is crucial to the health, safety, and quality of life that people around the globe strive for—safe, environmentally responsible operations are part of our work. 

With a national “frac act” being discussed in Congress, discusion of natural gas as the “bridge fuel to the future,” and fracking reaching national attention, we as an industry want to be in front of this. More in later posts.

The Grand Finale—Marcellus Shale Overview
Those attendees who were able to stay until the closing keynote were not disappointed with Bill Zagorski’s presentation. In 2008, Zagorski, who is VP of geology in the Marcellus Region for Range Resources, was awarded the title “Father of the Marcellus” by the Pittsburgh Area Petroleum Geologists, for his crucial role in leading his team to successful development practices in the Marcellus.

Zagorski gave an overview of the geology and development history, and chronicled Range’s history leading to the company’s current success in the play. He described their first Marcellus fracking effort in 2004 as putting the “biggest Barnett Shale frac on it” and “the biggest frac east of the Mississippi.” Of course, it wasn’t until 2007 that they reached the kind of success they were seeking, with their first well with initial production rate of 4 MMcf/day.

I spoke with a Houston-based colleague who attended the conference but had to leave on Thursday morning (in the snow) before the final closing session; he was disappointed to have missed this information. By the looks of the sparse crowd on Thursday morning, he wasn’t the only one who could afford to take the full 2 ½ days for the conference. While the conference was billed broadly as unconventional gas, most attendees were most interested in the Marcellus. It would have been great to have kicked off the conference with Zagorski or at least constrained the program to 2 days so that more people could have heard his great presentation.

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