Plasma fracking could revolutionize the energy industry again, eliminating the need for water, sand, and chemicals to stimulate oil and gas formations.
The experimental technology only takes a day or two to stimulate a well and, once it’s pumping, the production will be much higher than traditional hydrofracking techniques.
ReStimCo, a Canadian company with strong ties to North Texas, is pursuing several patents for what it calls pulsed electro-plasma discharge. The plasma is ignited and released into the well bore, sending shockwaves through the formation.
It requires a lot of energy to produce the plasma burst but it lasts a fraction of a second.
The waves realign the particles, creating channels that the oil or gas can travel through to reach the surface. The process can be repeated for different frack stages along a horizontal or vertical well.
“Waves go out in a predictable succession,” said James Denito, an officer and investor in ReStimCo, who lives in Plano. “As each one travels into the strata, it shifts and realigns the particles. When the pulse is done, the opening you create doesn’t collapse. They lock themselves into a new position.”
That’s why the plasma fracking wouldn’t require sand. With traditional hydrofracking, the sand, or proppant as it’s called in the industry, is used to prop open the tiny cracks in the formation, releasing oil and gas.
“Proppant requires a large amount of water and pressure and a mix of chemicals that bully their way into the well and expand the formation,” Denito said. “That process is obviously environmentally unfriendly.”
Denito calls it a “quantum leap” for the energy industry because it’s more economical, more environmentally friendly and yields more production. It changes the cost structure, potentially making a U.S. oil well competitive even if crude oil prices fall below $30 again.
“We can put a large amount of people back to work,” Denito said.
The first real-life test for this plasma pulse technology will likely take place early next year in Canada. But ReStimCo is also lining up some wells in Texas that could stimulated using this method.
This technology was invented by Harry Curlett, the CTO for ReStimCo who used to live in Plano. Several of the investors are in North Texas, as is the law firm that filed the patents for ReStimCo, Denito said.
The long-term goal is to transition the company from a research and development company into an oilfield service company and have an initial public offering, Denito said.
Other companies such as Houston-based Propell Technologies Group. Inc., are using plasma for enhanced oil recovery, industry jargon for revitalizing an old oil and gas well.
Denito said ReStimCo’s goal was to take what Propell and Blue Spark Energy have developed and advance it to the next level.
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