BusinessWeek: Fiber-optic cables help fracking

Story says drillers use sound- and temperature-sensing fiber cables to make hydraulic fracturing more efficient.

A story written by BusinessWeek’s David Wethe describes how and why Halliburton and other companies are using fiber-optic cables to make the process of hydraulic fracturing in oil-and-gas exploration more efficient. In the July 11 article, Wethe explains fiber-optic cables that can collect sound and temperature information—the same type used on United States submarines—are enabling drillers to “record sounds that signal the perfect frack.”

“The industry started experimenting with fiber-optic lines’ temperature-sensing abilities about a decade ago,” Wethe writes, “and later began testing their use in analyzing sound.” He adds that the fiber-optic lines are producing an abundance of data—“enough to fill a DVD every 28 seconds” for Halliburton alone.

Thanks to this newly realized capability of these fiber-optic cables, Wethe reports that the market for them—he calls them distributed fiber-optic lines—will nearly double from its current size of $586 million over the next three years. He cites studies from Information Gatekeepers and Light Wave Venture as sources of that growth projection.

He points out, however, that, “Installing the fiber can cost as much as several hundred thousand dollars per well,” likely limiting its financial feasibility to the largest of these wells.

You can read David Wethe’s article, titled “Better Fracking Through Sound-Sensing Fiber Optics,” here.

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