Even as the region’s natural gas boom is driven toward bust by depressed world energy markets, drillers have had a production breakthrough at a Utica Shale well.
Fracking forces apart rock layers. And a ‘proppant’ in the fracking fluid, usually sand, keeps the cracks open. But for deep wells, as in the Utica Shale, the weight of 2 miles of earth can squash sand grains and limit output. For a new well in Pennsylvania, drillers used man-made, ceramic beads that won’t crush. The well ‘came in’ last week with record production.