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What Is Hydraulic Fracturing and What It Is Used For

Hydraulic fracturing or a frac job is the process of using water and sand, along with a small amount other chemicals forced at extremely high pressure from the surface, down a newly drilled and cased oil or gas well. Using a system of multiple high pressure pumps, tanks and lines, the frac fluid is forced into the rock formation where oil or natural gas is present. The force of the fluid opens up tiny cracks and fissures between the grains of the rock and expands upon the natural permeability of the reservoir. Permeability is simply how well a fluid or gas (such as oil or natural gas) can travel through the rock. Forcing high pressure fluid opens up more channels for the oil or natural gas to flow out of. Hydraulic fracturing is often done in stages, with different pressures and fluid additives used at each stage. Below is a video of the process of fracking a well.

 

One additive that is used to keep the fissures open are tiny spherical frac beads. Frac beads that are used are made of several substances, including glass, polystyrene, and ceramic material. These tiny round beads, similar in size to a grain of sand, help hold the fractured rock open permanently. This type of additive is known as a proppant. Sand can also be used as a proppant in a hydraulically fractured well. 

Frac Beads

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