The sounds of fracking are music to Halliburton's ears

Bloomberg/Fuel Fix:
A gossamer-thin glass line threaded two miles underground is allowing oilfield engineers to listen to a new kind of music: the sounds of fracking.

Halliburton Co. (HAL) and competing providers of drilling gear are adapting acoustic spy technology used by U.S. submarines to record sounds made deep in the earth that can guide engineers in finishing a well and predicting how much oil will flow.

The ability to hear inside a well enables producers to fine-tune hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the process that blasts underground rock with water, sand and chemicals to free trapped oil and natural gas. The technology is targeted at an estimated $31 billion that will be spent this year on fracking stages that yield less-than-optimal results, a majority of the work at 26,100 U.S. wells set to be pressure-pumped in 2013, according to PacWest Consulting Partners LLC.

“We’re creating a new science,” said Magnus McEwen-King, managing director for OptaSense, a Qinetiq Group Plc (QQ/) unit that’s one of the fiber-optics pioneers for the energy industry. “From an acoustic perspective, this is very much the start of what I think is going to be a revolutionary technology.”

Fracking has helped U.S. oil production reach a 21-year high. Environmental groups have criticized the practice because of concerns it may affect drinking water supplies.

Energy companies are fueling the booming business of so-called distributed fiber-optic lines, where the cord itself is a sensor for sound and temperature throughout its entire length.
There is much more.

They will be teaming with defense contractors to fine tune the process.  It is going to give the companies more information about what is happening underground which should make it easier to manage the process.


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