Hydraulic fracturing is a well stimulation operation in which fluids are pumped through a well to low-permeability formations at sufficiently high pressure to create new fractures in rock, or to open existing natural fractures, so that greater volumes of oil or natural gas can be produced. Exponent has a broad range of technical expertise, including an understanding of petroleum engineering, fluid composition, and potential environmental and human health consequences of releasing hydraulic fracturing fluids.
Our team has expertise and prior experience with:
- Oil and gas drilling and completions engineering
- Chemical composition and toxicity of completion and stimulation fluids
- Natural gas geochemistry
- State and federal regulations and proposed regulations
- Treatment in surface facilities, permitting, and waste disposal
- Risk assessment
- Air quality
- Subsurface geology
- Groundwater and surface-water quality.
Hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells has been understood and used for more than 60 years, and it is well known that this operation can make otherwise non-economic wells financially viable. In fact, hydraulic fracturing operations have led to a renaissance in the natural gas drilling and production industry in shale gas and coal-bed methane regions in Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming, as well as in Canada.
Issues are being raised by community and environmental action groups regarding possible health and environmental effects associated with chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations, as well as with the potential leakage of fracturing fluids into drinking-water aquifers, and the discharge of fracturing fluids after use. Currently, hydraulic fracturing operations and associated fluids are covered by state oil and gas regulatory programs, and are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Legislation has been introduced in Congress that would change the regulation of these fluids. Additionally, legislation governing disclosure of fluid composition, permitting requirements for use and disposal, and requirements for preliminary environmental assessments are under development in a number of states relating to development of the Marcellus, Barnett, Black Warrior, Powder River, and Eagle Ford Basins, among others.
Exponent’s engineers and scientists can facilitate the evaluation of all scientific and regulatory aspects of hydraulic fracturing. Our consultants have significant experience working in and consulting for the oil and gas industry, and understand both the technical and operational aspects of the issues. The following capabilities and expertise enable Exponent to provide great value in meeting the challenges associated with hydraulic fracturing:
- Extensive operational knowledge of oil and gas exploration and production activities and their potential environmental impacts
- In-depth, functional knowledge and expertise regarding petroleum engineering, use of disposal pits and ponds, and hydraulic fracturing fluid use
- Proven experience on high-profile projects of national and international significance—often in a dispute resolution setting
- Scientific expertise in environmental and health perspectives, hazard characterization, chemical risk assessment and regulatory policy, and experience with conducting human health and environmental risk, impact, and baseline assessments for the oil and gas industry.
For more information, please download Exponent's Hydraulic Fracturing Consulting Services Statement of Qualifications (PDF).