This “Clean” Fracking Breakthrough Could Make You a Bundle

by | published August 20th, 2013

As the war on fracking rages on, a “clean” technical advance is emerging that could help ease this ongoing debate.

In the process, fantastic new opportunities are developing for investors.

Fracking involves moving a large amount of water laced with chemicals downhole under considerable pressure. The adverse impacts of this have always been its biggest sticking point.

That has led to major advances in chemical-free fracking and the use of alternatives to water in the process. The move to use carbon dioxide, gels, and propane to frack wells are good examples of this.

But the opposition has taken little solace from the claims these methods are safe.

So for the past several years, my recommendation to producers has beenĀ simple: Identify the problems, lay them clearly out on the table, and then start finding ways to solve them.

That is the way things normally operate in a market.

Hiding behind state laws or hiring expensive New York City PR firms may sound like a good move in the board room but it never translates well with the general public.

Which leads me to the fracking breakthrough that could make you a bundle…

Hmmm…What’s That Smell?

If you have ever been to a fracking site like I have, there is something you notice immediately. It’s the smell.

Your initial reaction leads you to believe its gas. But it’s not. On its own, natural gas is odorless. The smelly stuff is added to it so that you know when there is a gas leak.

On a fracking site, the odor comes from the fuel used by the heavy apparatus footprint on the surface.

That array of machinery is needed to drill wells and run the extensive number of pressure trucks, compressors, and supporting equipment required for the fracking to take place.

All of this equipment runs on diesel and that is what you smell.

There are two problems with this set-up. First, as the price of diesel increases, so does the cost of running the well. The second is that diesel fuel leaks which is one of the primary environmental concerns at drilling sites.

And unlike the discussion that surrounds fracking, these leaks are not occurring thousands of feet below the surface. In this case, the diesel spills onto the land itself with all the direct consequences to water, soil, and the ecology. In addition, diesel emissions are increasingly a problem on site as well.

However, now there is a solution to this very visible concern that comes along with fracking.

Companies are beginning to use the gas pumped out of the ground as the fuel source for the equipment drilling the well and doing the pumping. That eliminates the use of diesel altogether.

This is not simply natural gas. Given the power required, operators have been using compressed natural gas (CNG).

But now even that is giving way to a better, cheaper, and more efficient source. It’s liquefied natural gas (LNG).

The use of LNG is becoming more important as deeper wells are drilled, especially in the Utica Shale basin that underlies the Marcellus in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

A Major Step Forward For Cleaner Fracking

The latest wrinkle in the move towards using LNG on frack sites just happened yesterday.

It involved two privately-held companies, but there will be a play emerging that involves publically traded stocks. In fact, two of them are already in the Energy Advantage and Energy Inner Circle portfolios.
Prometheus Energy Group, privately held by Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 B.V. and Black River Asset Management LLC (a wholly-owned owned but independently managed subsidiary of private Cargill) announced yesterday that it would supply LNG to Antero Resources to power drilling rigs in the Marcellus and Utica basins.

Prometheus also said it would be providing logistics delivery and onsite LNG equipment for storage and regasification at various sites in northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio.

According to Antero, it currently operates 18 rigs in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The company says it will begin using the LNG for the fracking process as well. The LNG will first be introduced at Antero’s West Virginia operations

Prometheus also added that using natural gas to power drilling operations will significantly reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulates compared to the diesel fuel traditionally used.

But there is another major advantage to gained: The CNG in use today and the LNG about to be used is much cheaper than diesel. That improves profit margins at the well site.

As one veteran puts it, “after the first well is drilled at some of these sites, a lot of people can use compressed natural gas produced on site to drill the next well.”

Now LNG is about to get the same treatment because it provides more horsepower and it is easier to store than CNG.

So don’t look now but we may finally have changes in fracking that are beneficial to both the environment and the bottom line.

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  1. ronnie johnson
    August 20th, 2013 at 13:08 | #1

    There should be more publicity about using lng for fracking,

  2. Gordon Rushinko
    August 20th, 2013 at 13:50 | #2

    This is not new, I work for a company in the Horn River region of B.C. and we have been using Natural gas for well over a year for our Drilling, Fracing, boilers etc etc…

  3. Dieter Hausammann
    August 20th, 2013 at 14:00 | #3

    Technically this idea does not make sense.

    Why would someone go through the costly process of liquifiying natural gas to run motors? The liquifaction process makes only sense for transportation of large quantities!

    LPG can do absolutely the same thing as CNG/LNG to run a motor.

    If you have a diesel motor it is already a common practice in Europe to equipe these engines with an LPG (propane/butane) mixing device where you can replace 30 % of the diesel with clean LPG and achieve cleaner exhaust gases without losing power.

    You can also run very large diesel motors with LPG or CNG/LNG. These engines are made by GE and are already installed in train engines.

    The difference between CNG and LNG is only in the form of storing the product. Liquifying natural gas does not change the BTU content of natural gas….

  4. joe mato
    August 20th, 2013 at 14:05 | #4

    Ecana has been powering their rigs with natural gas. Gasfrack has been using LNG to frack for several years. No water used except for drinking!

  5. Robert in Canada
    August 20th, 2013 at 14:30 | #5

    None of the improvements to oil & gas development matter to the enviro-groups. They don’t care about improvements, they want a complete stop to industrial development altogether.

    In fact they call it “re-wilding” which means letting everything go back to a natural state plus a big reduction in human populations.

    Those people are bordering on insane, or worse. Yet they are, to varying degrees, in control of governments and the media everywhere.

  6. Alden
    August 20th, 2013 at 14:41 | #6

    Hey Gordon – Sounds like your company’s been on the leading edge, but did I read the same thing you did? I thought he said Liquid Natural Gas was going to be the “new better thing”. Are you guys using natural gas or compressed natural gas?

  7. Cal Tininenko
    August 20th, 2013 at 15:09 | #7

    @Robert in Canada

    Give Robert in Canada an “A” and move him to the head of the class! His comments about enviro-groups wanting “re-wilding” is right on! The same can be said about the current occupier of the White House…

  8. Steve
    August 20th, 2013 at 15:15 | #8


    As you well know, this is only a first step and literally only scratches the surface of solving how Fracking damages the environment. What we are all most concerned about is what it is doing to the water supply and the aquifers. Who is solving that?

  9. Mark
    August 20th, 2013 at 19:32 | #9

    Towns in West Texas are finding out what fracking costs. Whole towns are running out of water because neighbors are selling huge amounts of pumped water to the drillers to use for fracking. Between the drought and the draw down of the aquifers you turn on your kitchen faucet and nothing comes out.

  10. Fred
    August 20th, 2013 at 22:06 | #10

    Fracking will kill is all šŸ™

  11. yngso
    August 21st, 2013 at 06:55 | #11

    ItĀ“s the 19th century all over agasin. Also then there was resistance against development. Technology is improving very rapidly, reducing negative “side effects”.

  12. jerry leibell
    August 21st, 2013 at 09:44 | #12

    it looks like the diesel problem is coming to an end but what is thelatest and who is in the forefront of reducing the amount of water used

  13. ronald g oconnor
    August 21st, 2013 at 16:08 | #13

    I don’t see this as a significant improvement, it’s the water and chemicals pumped into the ground that are the problem, until there is a better way to frack it will go no where. The French have banned it (one of the few intelligent decisions they’ve made since they helped us gain independance).

  14. TonC
    August 22nd, 2013 at 12:33 | #14

    so what is the bottom line Buy Prometheus\Black River or hold on?
    All this envrironmental talk and whether LPG or Cng is better is all idle talk. I read these articles or posts to learn how to invest or at least what is going on in the market.

  15. Charles Riley
    August 23rd, 2013 at 02:16 | #15

    Oil and gas and coal are good investments in the short run. BUT – if the world continues to burn carbon fuels we are walking to disaster. The oceans absorb CO2 from the air, and this has been at a balance for millions of years. Kit is now way out of balance such that the oceans are going acidic. When they turn acidic, the bottom of the seafood chain, plankton,do not grow and the whole food chain dies out. Deformed plankton larvae have already been found in parts of the North Atlantic. 20 percent of human food protein is from the sea. Time-history of the ocean’s pH shows that we are in big trouble before 2050. Scientific measurements show the world’s ocean temperature’s are rising, and the expansion of the water is raising sea level. Russia is planning to sail freighters and tankers to Asia through the Northwest Passage. All of this scientific information is available to you!

  16. Marius
    August 25th, 2013 at 23:23 | #16

    Hey “Doc”, do you really need a medical doc, or just need to go back to school? If you can prove to me “LNG is becoming cheaper than CNG”, by any means, including “at site”, I swear I’ll build you a statue on a place of your choice, and I’ll write on the golden plate “Dr Kent Moors, the genius who invalidated the three principles of Thermodynamics”…Lord Kelvin will rol in his grave, I suppose…

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