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Geosynthetic opportunities for shale gas plays worldwide

News | April 1, 2013 | By:

The geosynthetic opportunities associated with shale gas plays are numerous and essentially involve every type of geosynthetic material. Specific applications that have been identified and implemented at several well sites include:

At the drill pad:

  • drilled pad liners for accidental spills
  • composite pond liners for water
  • double pond liners for flow-back and production water
  • double landfill liners for well cuttings
  • geotextile tubes for decontaminating well cuttings

Long-term off-site opportunities:

  • paved and unpaved roadways
  • unpaved parking and staging areas
  • MSE reinforced walls and slopes
  • secondary containment for frac-tanks
  • tremendous amounts of plastic pipe

Short-term off-site opportunities:

  • temporary roadways
  • turf reinforcement
  • temporary dams
  • silt fences
  • erosion control materials

This robust geosynthetics activity has been concentrated in three areas of the U.S.: south-central, east of the Rockies, and the mid-Atlantic states—see these areas on the Figure 1 map. Figure 1

Yet there is much more to come. The Monterey Formation along the coast of Southern California is a 450,000ha site that could hold as much as 64% of the total estimate in the rest of the 48 contiguous states (Figure 2). Figure 3

Europe is a major potential producer with many countries that could be involved. That said, the permitting process will vary greatly as the Figure 3 map suggests. Figure 3

When we view the worldwide situation we see tremendous availability of natural gas to a degree that was unheard of a decade ago (Figure 4). Figure 4

The point of this column is to suggest that the geosynthetics community should not only look at the traditional transportation, geotechnical, geoenvironmental, mining, and hydraulics areas, but also emerging areas such as shale gas plays.

Bob Koerner, Ph.D., P.E., NAE, is the director of Geosynthetic Institute (GSI) and is a member of Geosynthetics magazine’s Editorial Advisory Committee. GSI: +1 610 522 8440,
George M. Koerner, Ph.D., P.E., CQA, is the director designate of GSI,

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