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Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) alternative

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement
Chapter 9
Alternative Actions

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) alternative – The use of LPG, consisting primarily of propane, has the advantages of carbon dioxide and nitrogen cited above; additionally, LPG is known to be a good carrier of proppant due to the higher viscosity of propane gel. Further, mixing LPG with natural gas does not ‘contaminate’ natural gas; and the mixture may be flowed directly into a gas pipeline and separated at the gas plant and recycled. LPG’s high volatility, low weight, and high recovery potential make it a good fracturing agent. Use of LPG as a hydraulic fracturing fluid also inhibits formation damage which can occur during hydraulic fracturing with conventional fluids. Using propane not only minimizes formation damage, but also eliminates the need to source water for hydraulic fracturing, recover flowback fluids to the surface and dispose of the flowback fluids. As a result of the elimination of hydraulic fracturing source water, truck traffic to and from the wellsite would be greatly reduced. In addition, since LPG is less reactive with the formation matrix, it is therefore less likely to mobilize constituents which could increase NORM levels in the flowback fluid. LPG is discussed and addressed in the 1992 GEIS in the context of the permitting of underground gas storage wells and facilities in the State. Currently, there are three operating underground LPG storage facilities and associated wells for the injection and withdrawal of LPG, with a total storage capacity of approximately 150 million gallons of LPG. It is quite possible that these storage facilities which are located in Cortland, Schuyler and Steuben Counties could supply the LPG needed to conduct hydraulic fracturing operations at wells targeting the Marcellus Shale and other low-permeability gas reservoirs should a well operator make such a proposal for the Department’s approval.

Well applications that specify and propose the use of LPG as the primary carrier fluid will be reviewed and permitted pursuant to the 1992 GEIS and Findings Statement. Horizontal and directional wells, which are part of the main subject of this SGEIS, are already in use in the Marcellus Shale. While these drilling techniques require larger quantities of water and additives per well because of the relatively longer target interval, horizontal and directional wells are considered to be more environmentally-friendly because these types of wells provide access to a larger volume of gas/oil than a typical vertical well.

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