A report by analysts PwC has estimated that shale oil could boost the UK’s economy by up to £50 billion by 2035. Shale gas production could account for almost 12% of the world’s total oil supply by 2035 – equivalent to 14 million barrels of oil per day.
The economic boost would be due to significantly lower oil prices as the world taps into the energy held in shale rock, cutting costs faced by businesses and consumers. The Chancellor unveiled tax breaks for shale exploration in the UK in December 2012, and ended a moratorium on the controversial ‘fracking’ process, imposed after the technique caused two small earthquakes of 1.5 and 2.2 magnitude in the Blackpool area in 2011.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique designed to recover gas and oil from shale rock, by using hydraulic pressure to split open the layers in shale rocks and release gas or oil 10,000 feet underground.
OptaSense has developed a breakthrough technology for fracture monitoring which can manage the fracturing process by listening to an optical fibre in a cable attached to the well itself. The OptaSense Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) system provides wells with their own nervous system, enabling operators to react to events as and when they occur.
The hydraulic fracture monitoring service enables real-time monitoring of fracture fluid injection locations and provides an estimate of the volume of water and proppant (a material similar to sand , used to keep fissures created by the hydraulic pressure forced open) uptake at these locations. The system can monitor that the proppant and fluid that is injected into the borehole gets to the right place and, if not, it can provide information to enable the operator to modify the process immediately.
The ground-breaking OptaSense technology is enabling operators to monitor the entire well bore in a safe, cost-effective manner, providing real-time measurements including seismic activity.
It is enabling businesses to monitor the before, during and after fracking process. Real-time fracturing monitoring is a vital enabler for safe and effective shale gas and oil production and OptaSense is proud to be the custodian of this innovative technology. Shale gas and oil will be a huge opportunity for the UK economy and now is the time to act.