Hydraulic fracturing in Alberta: ERCB draft directive
Recently, the ERCB has provided a draft directive proposed to govern hydraulic fracturing in unconventional oil and gas wells. New developments well drilling technology have allowed producers to drill one or more laterals horizontally along the producing zone. Because the producing zone is intersected over a surface area several orders of magnitude compared to a conventional well, oil and gas production is increased, meaning formerly uneconomic deposits in zones of low porosity and permeability are now viable and profitable. This type of drilling has become the norm in Alberta and throughout most of North America.
Hydraulic fracturing is used to increase both porosity and permeability in the laterals. A fluid is introduced and subjected to high pressure, which fractures the zone to be produced. Hydraulic fracturing has caused issues in certain types of wells, especially where the producing zone is near, or in potable groundwater. More significantly for Alberta, hydraulic fracturing requires the storage of large volumes of fluid on the drill site which may spill, causing environmental damage.