DEFINITION of 'LPG Fracturing'

Fracturing rock at depth through the use of liquefied propane. Liquefied propane gas (LPG) fracturing involves the pressurization of propane, a gas at room temperature, until it becomes a gel-like substance, and then injecting that material into a well. LPG fracturing is not used as commonly as conventional hydraulic fracturing.


Conventional hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of a combination of water and chemicals into a well in order to fracture rock formations. This can be an expensive and capital-intensive operation because installations capable of producing and delivering the appropriate chemicals have to be located near the well. The production of the required chemicals uses significant amounts of energy, and the liquids injected into the bore have to be treated. Treating contaminated water is expensive.

Public criticisms of hydraulic fracturing primarily center on its use of water. Much of the water pumped into an oil or natural gas reservoir stays there, meaning that the public cannot access it and that the water remains contaminated with any chemicals used in the fracturing process. The water that is extracted, referred to as produced water, has to be treated before it can be used again. There is also the potential for groundwater contamination by the chemicals used in the drilling process. LPG fracturing removes the need of using a water and chemical mixture as working fluid. This can make the process less polluting than conventional hydraulic fracturing because produced water is less likely to be created, though it is possible that groundwater supplies can still be affected.

Rather than having to treat water that finds its way to the production zone, propane used in the fracturing process can be recovered and sold. This capture of used propane is different than the capture of produced water used in conventional fracturing, and thus requires different infrastructure and technical expertise. 



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