On a March 18, 2014 webcast, a panel of senior US Latham & Watkins lawyers from our Environmental Department provided an overview of recent key developments related to hydraulic fracturing. Presented below are answers to some of the questions received from viewers*. If you have additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact any of our presenters.
Answers to our Viewers’ Questions -
1. What is a “green completion” and will it be required in the United States? What about the European Union?
In a “green completion,” gas and liquid hydrocarbons are separated from the flow back fluids (and associated debris) that comes from the well as it is being prepared for production. In particular, after fracturing, but before commencement of production, the well bore must be cleaned of debris and fracture fluid. During this period, natural gas escapes from the well along with the flow back water and debris. Instead of venting or flaring the escaping gas, a “green completion” truck or trailer mounted technology system is used to capture the gas, fluids and debris flowing out of the well and to separate the hydrocarbons. The technology works by reducing the pressure, which allows the hydrocarbons to separate from the denser fluids and sand. The remaining hydrocarbons are then delivered directly into equipment that transports them for productive use. The exact technology needed to accomplish a “green completion” will vary by region, with a three-phase separation technique needed in wet gas regions, such as the Marcellus shale, and a sand separation required in other regions.
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