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Drillers Reducing Water Usage and Carbon Dioxide Emissions with Propane

Drillers for natural gas in shale areas throughout the U.S. rely on a technique called hydraulic fracturing to extract the gas and other gas liquids (which include propane).  Traditional fracking methods, as the technique is also known, are controversial.  On one hand they provide access to domestic energy sources that are otherwise unreachable; while on the other, they consume a lot of water and raise the potential for water contamination if not processed correctly.  GASFRAC Energy Services in Alberta, Canada has developed a method using a liquid propane gel that eliminates the need to use water in the process.

As much as 80% of the water that is used in conventional methods stays in the reservoir and the water that does flow back has to be disposed of safely.  By using propane instead of water, GASFRAC eliminates that entire process including the trucking of water to and from well sites potentially reducing truck traffic by up to 90%.  Using propane also reduces the need to flare production to clean up the traditional fracturing fluids, reducing CO2 emissions.

Finally, since propane is found naturally occurring in many wells and is a typical part of gas processing, drillers can recover 100% of the propane used for fracturing, putting it back into the supply chain.

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