Pemex trials Chimera’s ‘non hydraulic’ helium frac

Mexico’s Chicontepec tight oil reservoir slated for test. But what does ‘non hydraulic’ mean?

Houston-based Chimera Energy has announced a novel ‘non-hydraulic’ method for shale oil production. Chimera fracs shales by injecting liquid helium into a well which expands 750 fold as it transitions to the gaseous state, creating the pressure required to open up existing fractures and form new ones. Chimera is currently working to industrialize its novel process for ‘mass production, relicensing and sales.’

Commenting skeptical remarks in the blogosphere, Chimera president Charles Grob said, ‘There will always be naysayers in a new business venture, and we have ours. I and all those associated with Chimera are excited about our prospects and encouraged by our progress. We are moving forward at a deliberate pace!’

Grob reported on ‘fruitful meetings’ with Pemex which is to trial the technique on the Chicontepec tight oil formation. Chicontepec has been reported as holding some 140 billion barrels of reserves, ‘the equivalent of half of the reserves of Saudi Arabia.’

Comment: Apart from any discussion as to the practicality of the method, the claim that fracking with a gas is ‘non hydraulic’ is curious from an etymological standpoint. Our dictionary defines hydraulics as ‘the branch of science concerned with the practical applications of fluids in motion.’ As both states of helium are, sensu stricto, ‘fluid,’ the process would seem to be ‘hydraulic.’

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