Infographic: A brief history of fracking innovation

Ground-breaking moments in hydraulic fracturing

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February 19, 2014

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When the term “moonlighting” was coined in the 1860s it referred to wildcat oil and gas explorers who illegally dropped nitroglycerine bombs down their vertical natural gas wells in the middle of the night. The resulting explosions would stimulate the flow of the oil and gas to the wellbore. Moonlighting no longer refers to well completion techniques done under the cover of darkness – and reservoirs are no longer stimulated with nitroglycerine bombs, though the history of hydraulic fracturing does begin there.

The ensuing decades brought technological changes that reshaped the way wells are drilled and completed, but it has been the last decade – the period between 2003 and 2013 – which has seen the most radical, fast-paced innovation in well-stimulation and well-completion technologies. And the rate of technological change in what is now referred to as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, continues to accelerate.

Sources: Society of Petroleum Engineers, Environmental Engineering and Consulting,, American Oil and Gas Historical Society, Halliburton, Marten Law

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