Indian company uses shock waves instead of fluid to frack shale

Shock wave graph
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Indian state-run Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has come up with an innovative technology to replace fracking fluids with shock waves, which will fracture the shale and release trapped hydrocarbons.

The new technique, developed in co-operation with Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science, could revolutionise the process which has been criticised for its negative environmental impacts. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – involves pumping large quantities of water mixed with sand and chemicals into the shale formation in order to crack the rock and release oil and gas. The process results in large volumes of produced water – flowing back from the well – that is highly contaminated and poses problems of disposal. Abandoning the use of water and replacing it with shock waves would allow drillers to avoid the problem altogether.

On Wednesday, Super Wave Technology Ltd (SWTL), a company incorporated by Society for Innovation and Development of the Indian Institute of Science, and Oil & Natural Gas Corporation signed an memorandum of understanding to jointly develop the alternate technology for hydraulic fracking.

The memorandum was signed by Shashi Shanker, ONGC director (technical and field services) and Prof K P J Reddy of SWTL in the presence of PM Narendra Modi and oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

“With this partnership ONGC will provide assistance to SWTL for developing shock wave assisted fracking technology, an alternative to the conventional hydraulic fracturing which, if proven effective as a substitute to hydraulic fracturing, in particular for shale gas exploitation, will be a game-changer for the oil and gas industry,” ONGC spokesman told The Times of India.

“In the present project with ONGC, SWTL proposes to use shock/blast waves for initiating fractures in sandstone/shale reservoirs located initially at depths of 1000-1500 meters,” ONGC said.

Shock waves are one of the most efficient energy dissipation phenomena. Sudden release of massive amount of energy in a minuscule space domain triggers impulses that can be used for many interesting and innovative applications.

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