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Holistic Fracking Is Here and It’s A Nightmare for Fractivists

natural gas now - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

Holistic fracking, oil and gas well stimulation using a fracking gel made from ingredients available at your local grocery story, is already here.

A couple of decades ago, the term “holistic” became very trendy. We heard a lot about things such as “holistic medicine” and “whole farming,” both of which emphasized treating the whole rather than the parts. It seems somewhat less in vogue today, now doubt due to overuse, but the idea, which certainly has some validity, persists. We’re now seeing something similar, in fact, with hydraulic fracturing. The mechanism for delivering proppants to keep rock fractures open to flow gas is becoming ever more benign, more holistic. Holistic fracking is here.

A reasonable definition of holistic fracking is a process of hydraulic fracturing where the ingredients used are no different from those you would put in your own body. An article published recently in Rigzone by Liberty Oilfield Services tells the story. Here are some excerpts, which include a certain amount of levity:

One common misconception of current frac fluids used in shale is that they contain hundreds of chemicals. While this was maybe true for exotic frac fluids used decades ago on an occasional high-pressure high-temperature job, the economics of the Shale Revolution have dramatically simplified frac fluids.

As a matter of fact, you can take just four grocery store products from Whole Foods and Walgreens and create your own frac gel. A basic crosslinked guar system can be made with water and four simple items:

  • Red Mill Premium Guar Gum – Thickener
  • Milk of Magnesia – High pH buffer
  • Visine Original Eyedrops – Crosslinker
  • Distilled White Vinegar – “Breaker” or low pH buffer
holistic fracking

WARNING! All the above frac fluid components are designed for either human indigestion or application into the human eye. Please read product labels for proper use.

In the photo [below], our Lab Manager Joel Siegel demonstrates an early crosslink of this fluid system. He has just dissolved some guar gum powder in water. Guar gum is powder from the grinded endosperm of a guar seed, and consists of ultra-long organic molecules. These long molecules are ideal as a healthy thickening agent in food like yoghurt or products like toothpaste.

Joel then added some Milk of Magnesia (used to help an “upset tummy”) to get to a slightly alkaline pH level. He then added a few drops of Visine Eyedrops, which contains Boron as a preservative. Boron doubles up as a crosslinker, tying together the long guar molecules to thicken the fluid system even more than before.

Joel mixes this in a blender for about 30 seconds, and you can see in the photo [below] how the crosslinked gel is becoming thicker. You can continue to mix and develop more viscosity by pouring the fluid from one cup into another while the fluid develops the characteristic fluid “lip” showing the proper fluid potential as a carrier system for proppant.

holistic fracking

To “break” the fluid back into a low-viscosity base gel you can now add vinegar to lower the pH to stop the effect of the crosslinker. More Milk of Magnesia can be added to get the pH into crosslinking territory again, while more vinegar can be added to stop the crosslinking process. And so on and so forth – we never get enough of playing with gel…

The idea of food-grade hydraulic fracturing fluids isn’t new, of course. Halliburton, for example, has been pioneering the way on this for some time with its CleanStim product. Fracs are also being done CO2, propane and natural gas itself. CO2 and natural fracs are especially holistic, of course, but it’s hard to argue using a fracturing gel made of stuff intended for our own bodies isn’t also holistic fracking.

The big question, of course, is what the increasingly green nature of fracking will mean for fractivism. It will ignored by fractivists, of course, because the entire premise of their opposition to fracking is the supposed secret concoction of dangerous chemicals involved, which is utter nonsense on several levels.

More than that, fractivism, is a philosophy of opposition to oil and gas development, which its adherents suppose is the foundation of a western civilization they despise. That’s why fractivists refuse to accept facts and why they’re losing everywhere but in places such as New York where madness is thought to be a virtue. This article is a little reminder that sanity still prevails elsewhere.

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7 thoughts on “Holistic Fracking Is Here and It’s A Nightmare for Fractivists

  1. “…the entire premise of their opposition to fracking is the supposed secret concoction of dangerous chemicals involved….”

    As usual, you mistate the case to arrive at your desired conclusion, and further on you mischaracterize the opposition in order to stir the prejudices of your audience.

    Besides the secret concoction (just because you’ve added these allegedly benign ingredients, at least one of which is not designed to be ingested, there is no reason to think there still is not a secret concoction), there is the problem of radiation. Among many others.

    Have a good day.

    • Coca-Cola is a secret concoction but they list the ingredients on the label. One of them is phosphoric acid. FracFocus.org lists the ingredients used in every gas well. Not one water well has been contaminated with any of those ingredients migrating upwards from fracking.

      • … aaannd, right on cue, the fractivists are drumming the radiation fears as their arsenal of faux bogeymen is disappearing rapidly.

        On several pseudo environmental sites I follow, radiation is now touted as THE reason to ban hydraulic fracturing.

        Simply pointing out that every single banana contains about 1 micro sievert of radiation via potassium 40 can steer integrity- minded readers to discover this latest canard from obstructionists.
        (BED – Banana Equivalent Dose – is regularly used to offer comparisons).

        I fully expect the Know Nothings to once again demonize the most common ingredient used in frac’ing … the one compound universally recognized to cause hundreds of fatalities a year when mis applied … the dreaded dihydrogen monoxide.

  2. Meanwhile in NY where Governor Cuomo extended the moratorium based on 2008 technology here is what he had to say about this holistic frack in three different statements




    Reiterating that NY will become a hub for clean energy as long as the donations from a few very rich friends keep coming in.
    Gumby Cuomo in fact set targets for long after he will be out of office as many politicians who panhandle votes do…
    Fossil fuels are our friend, don’t be like governor Gumby….

  3. This is very good news. Here in Colorado where we have elections coming up again this year, THIS is what industry groups should be presenting, even in the most hostile settings. Jared Polis who is now running for governor and has the most name recognition two years ago proposed a 2500 foot setback from any new well to just about any building standing! A map showing what would be the impact, even in a state as big as Colorado was that the industry would lose 95% of land available for drilling, essentially killing any new exploration in the state. So this technology should become the industry’s main talking point in every media. It is simple, easy to understand and very easy to visually present.

  4. What impact will this have on stray gas cases?

    As you say Tom, frack fluid rarely if ever ends up in water wells.

    Could help with spills though.

  5. I have already been in one place where the EPA used the RADIATION canard to disrupt use of phosphorus-manufacturing slag for roads and driveways, where it was much-liked for its self-cementing properties. Yeah, there was a dose, but it was paltry.

    So how do the antis make radiation into a bogeyman with methane? Do they claim it makes the gas glow inside the pipes, or it it all limited to the Marcellus shale cuttings that are more-radioactive that rocks around it. Cuttings which might make a landfill….what, glow in the dark?

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