The process for extraction of Shale gas is commonly referred to as "Fracking". The basic concept behind fracking has been used for over a century in the US. Using a procedure which was originally called shooting, individuals and companies searching for natural gas and oil used nitoglycerin explosions to expose underground reservoirs. In fact, a Civil War veteran received a patent for the 'exploding torpedo' later known as the 'Roberts torpedo' in 1865. Roberts' invention set the groundwork for a company that still exists today.
Commercial fracking began to expand in America in the 1940s after Halliburton designed the modern fracking rig. Soon thereafter the process spread throughout the country. By 2010, about 2.5 million wells had been fracked with this technology. The new technique does not use explosives so quickly replaced fracking by detonation.. Fracking is now extensively used in the US where it has revolutionised the energy industry.. The latest fracking rigs are much more powerful and the projects tend to be larger scale than with early rigs.
Shale gas activity in the UK is still in the exploration stage, where companies are drilling test wells. There is no experience of production operations in the UK as yet, the UK does though have a long history of production of oil and gas from 'conventional' onshore fields. This means that the fundamentals and base knowledge for Shale gas production are already in place.
WHAT IS FRACKING?
Fracking is the process of drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed into the rock to release the gas inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the well. The term fracking is shorthand for hydraulic fracturing and refers to how the rock is fractured apart by the high pressure mixture. Experts also refer to a "frac job" and a "frac unit".
Fracking makes it possible to produce natural gas extraction in locations that were once unreachable using conventional technologies. Recent advancements in drilling technology have led to new man-made hydraulic fractures in shale plays that were once not available for exploration. Three dimensional imaging also helps scientists to determine the precise locations for drilling.
Horizontal drilling, along with traditional vertical drilling, allows for the injection of highly pressurized fracking fluids into the shale area. This creates new channels within the rock from which natural gas is extracted at higher than traditional rates. The drilling process can take up to a month, while the drilling teams delve more than a mile into the Earth's surface. After drilling , the well is cased with cement to provide groundwater protection, the shale is then hydraulically fractured with water and other fracking fluids
ADVANTAGES OF FRACKING
- It allows drilling firms to access difficult to reach resources of oil and gas which will boost domestic oil production and drive down gas prices.
- It could contribute significantly to the UK's future energy needs.
- Natural gas releases two to three times less carbon into the atmosphere than coal.
- Natural gas plants are relatively cheap to build and can be scaled easily to meet energy demands.
- Reserves of shale gas have been identified across swathes of the UK, particularly in the North of England.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
The gas and oil from fracking is recovered from shale rock. Fissures in underground shale rock formations are blasted open by injecting a high pressure combination of fluids and chemicals causing the fossil fuel to flow to the production well. During the fracking process, millions of gallons of fracking fluid are injected into the ground to break up the shale and release the natural gas.
British Geological Survey (BGS) studies suggest the areas with most potential for shale gas exploration are where existing conventional gas has been found. The BGS published a study of the Bowland Shale of the Pennine Basin in the North of England, which estimated the "gas in place" of that area alone as 1,300 trillion cubic feet. Other areas with relevant shale rock include the Kimmeridge Clay of the Weald Basin in Surrey and Sussex, and the Oil-Shale Group of the Midland Valley, or central belt, of Scotland. Little drilling or testing has taken place in Britain's shale deposits, so it is not yet possible to estimate how much shale gas or oil may be practically and commercially recoverable.
WHERE IS IT USED?
Shale gas production is rising quickly in the US, where it has scaled up rapidly to account for around a quarter of the country's natural gas extraction. Fracking is now also underway in many other countries including China, Poland, Australia and the UK. Some countries, however, have now banned fracking amid concerns regarding tremors (small earthquakes) that have occurred at some sites. These countries include France and Bulgaria.
WHY CHOOSE A CAREER IN THE FRACKING INDUSTRY?
Fracking is still in the exploration stage in the UK which means there is a skills shortage and demand levels are expected to grow.
Reasons to join the industry include:
- There is a growing belief that the UK is on the verge of an energy boom, as the country begins to explore the vast onshore oil and gas reserves trapped in shale rock formations.
- With these reserves available, Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed that fracking could create up to 74,000 jobs. The government has also claimed that the UK could be set for £3.5bn of investment as Energy Company's fight to get their hands on reserves.
- The process used to extract these shale rock hydrocarbon reserves - has been touted as the UK's next big industry. It is estimated that there is 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas locked underground in the north of England alone.
- The industry is growing and exploration is ongoing
WHAT PERSONNEL ARE IN DEMAND WHO SHOULD CONTACT US?
Most fracking jobs currently are positions in drilling and engineering, requirements also include Field Supervisors, and Experienced Fracturing Equipment Operators. Interestingly, the Experienced Fracturing Equipment Operators don't actually have to have experience using fracturing equipment. It's generally only a preferred qualification that operators even have experience with an oil field service company.
There will be further requirements and job opportunities as exploration shifts to production in this developing industry.
Engineer positions usually prefer individuals who have experience working in the field. Engineer technicians, building and environmental engineers and construction crews are also required to help build and develop manufacturing plants. Jobs in trucking will boom as the pipe, equipment and the drilled natural resources all have to be shipped to and from the drilling sites. There are also some support positions available within the fracking industry, clerks/admin, supply ordering, finance, accounting, human resources etc.
Typically the following personnel should also have potential for transfer into the Fracking industry and the down-stream facilities with a little assistance:
Project Managers, Project Engineers, Process engineers and designers, Piping engineers and designers, Electrical engineers and designers, Mechanical engineers and designers, Structural engineers and designers, Instrumentation engineers and designers, Safety personnel, Technical Safety engineers, planning engineers, document controllers, admin personnel.
There is also a demand for senior commercial and managerial roles such as business development and sales managers, environmental impact assessors, government relations, project management and those with niche expertise of drilling and geosciences for unconventional exploration and production.
In addition to this there is demand for HSE advisors, contract specialists, operators, technicians and engineers.
Working in the emerging Fracking industry is an exciting choice and should prove to be a career with longevity and prospects.
TALK TO US ABOUT GETTING AHEAD OF THE GAME AND HOW WE CAN ASSIST YOU IN YOUR TRANSFER TO THE FRACKING INDUSTRY.
- In many instances no training will be required prior to placement; we will endeavour to put you in touch with employers happy to engage you with your current skills and qualifications.
Talk to Octopus today and get your suckers on your new career!