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Open access

Marek Bogacki and Jan Macuda


The hydraulic fracturing jobs performed on shale rocks are connected with atmospheric emissions of dusts and exhaust gases from high-power motors supplying pump aggregates used for fracturing operations and from other technological devices. The total power of motors driving technological systems depends on the specific character of deposit and well and may range between a dozen to tens of thousands kW. An exemplary set of technological systems used for frac jobs is presented in figure 1. The following substances are emitted to the atmosphere during engine operation, e.g. nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon oxide (CO), dust PM10, ammonia, benzo(a)pyrene (B(a)P), benzene, toluene, xylene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, acrolein. As a consequence admissible concentrations of these substances in air can be exceeded.

The influence of dust and gaseous emissions accompanying shale rock fracturing jobs is addressed in this paper. Model analyses were performed. An exemplary model of a process used for simulating propagation of atmospheric emissions in a specified calculation area (1,150 m × 1,150 m) were based on the analysis of hydraulic fracturing jobs performed in wells in Poland and abroad. For making calculations more actual, the model was located in the Gdańsk area and was ascribed its typical meteorological and orographic parameters. In the center of this area a rig site 150 m x 150 m was distinguished. The emission field was generated by 12 high-power engines supplying pump aggregates, 1680 kW each. The time of work of particular engines was established for 52 hrs (13 frac jobs, each lasting 4 hrs). It was assumed that all engines will operate simultaneously and using 100% of their power.

Attention was paid to the correct modelling of the real emission field. Technical parameters of motors and the applied fuels were characterized. Emission indices were worked out by, e.g. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or European Environment Agency.

The calculations of air pollutions from analyzed motors were performed with a mathematical modelling method using Gaussian plum.

The results of calculations could be used for evaluating spatial distribution of maximum 1 hour concentrations (S1), incidence of exceeding admissible 1 hour concentration values (P(D1)), percentile 99.8 or 99.726 from 1 hour concentrations and average concentrations (Sa) for selected most important for the air quality contaminants, i.e. NOx (as NO2), SO2, CO, PM10, benzo(a)pyrene, benzene, toluene, xylene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein. The results of calculated air concentrations of selected substances on the rig border are listed in table 9, whereas spatial distributions of NOx and PM10 concentrations in figures 3 to 8. The analysis of the obtained results did not reveal cases of exceeding Polish emission standards. However, nitrogen oxide (NOx) or dust PM10 can be expected to exceed these values, e.g. in a situation when the total power installed in motors driving technological systems in the course of hydraulic fracking will be higher than assumed in the analyses.

The results of calculations show to a significant impact of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and dust PM10 emissions on air quality. The risk that emission standards are exceeded beyond the rig area is conditioned both by technological factors (total power of operating motors, parameters of combusted fuel, reduced emission technologies applied to engines, duration of frac jobs, etc.) and a number of external factors, e.g. meteorological and orographic factors or high level of emitted substances in air within the rig area.

Open access

Jan Macuda


In Poland all lignite mines are dewatered with the use of large-diameter wells. Drilling of such wells is inefficient owing to the presence of loose Quaternary and Tertiary material and considerable dewatering of rock mass within the open pit area. Difficult geological conditions significantly elongate the time in which large-diameter dewatering wells are drilled, and various drilling complications and break-downs related to the caving may occur.

Obtaining higher drilling rates in large-diameter wells can be achieved only when new cutter bits designs are worked out and rock drillability tests performed for optimum mechanical parameters of drilling technology.

Those tests were performed for a bit ø 1.16 m in separated macroscopically homogeneous layers of similar drillability. Depending on the designed thickness of the drilled layer, there were determined measurement sections from 0.2 to 1.0 m long, and each of the sections was drilled at constant rotary speed and weight on bit values.

Prior to drillability tests, accounting for the technical characteristic of the rig and strength of the string and the cutter bit, there were established limitations for mechanical parameters of drilling technology:

P ∈ (P min; P max)

n ∈ (n min; n max)

where: P min; P max - lowest and highest values of weight on bit,

n min; n max - lowest and highest values of rotary speed of bit,

For finding the dependence of the rate of penetration on weight on bit and rotary speed of bit various regression models have been analyzed. The most satisfactory results were obtained for the exponential model illustrating the influence of weight on bit and rotary speed of bit on drilling rate. The regression coefficients and statistical parameters prove the good fit of the model to measurement data, presented in tables 4-6.

The average drilling rate for a cutter bit with profiled wings has been described with the form:

Vśr= Z ·Pa· n b

where: Vśr- average drilling rate,

Z - drillability coefficient,

P - weight on bit,

n - rotary speed of bit,

a - coefficient of influence of weight on bit on drilling rate,

b - coefficient of influence of rotary speed of bit on drilling rate.

Industrial tests were performed for assessing the efficiency of drilling of large-diameter wells with a cutter bit having profiled wings ø 1.16 m according to elaborated model of average rate of drilling. The obtained values of average rate of drilling during industrial tests ranged from 8.33×10-4 to 1.94×10-3 m/s and were higher than the ones obtained so far, i.e. from 181.21 to 262.11%.

Open access

Robert Duda and Jan Macuda


Natural gas extraction from shale rock necessitates hydraulic fracturing of rocks, which involves large amounts of fracture fluids made of 90.5% of water. The authors focus on feasibility of groundwater abstraction for the purpose of applying fracture fluids in wells of the Lublin Basin - area of perspective unconventional gas exploitation from the Ordovician and the Silurian shales. These data refer to the expected specific capacity of wells abstracting groundwater from main useful aquifers. Specific capacity of a well (q) belongs to high-certainty empirical parameters, characterizing water-bearing capacity of rocks at a regional scale. The spatial evaluation of q was based on respective data coming from 7 sheets of the Hydrogeological Map of Poland (scale 1:200,000) covering research area. Specific capacity q was calculated for wells abstracting water from the Upper Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary aquifers in areas presented on particular sheets of the map. Authors determined the variability distribution and the cumulative probability plots of q values, indicating a range which corresponded to a sum of standard deviation (SD) above and below median (X̄), i.e. X̄ ± 1SD. On the total the interval included 68.2% of data. The results reveal that 0.6 ≤ q ≤ 40 m3h-1 per 1 meter of drawdown for the Upper Cretaceous rocks in the eastern part of the area, and 1.1 ≤ q ≤ 110 m3h-1 per 1 meter in the western part, being a result of more intense fracturing and fissuring. Owing to the scarcity of data, q values of wells screened at the Tertiary and Quaternary aquifers are given jointly for the whole area: 0.8 ≤ q ≤ 20 and 1.0 ≤ q ≤ 10 m3h-1 per 1 meter, respectively. The obtained specific capacities are high. When the wells are properly designed, their discharges may reach about ca. 100 m3h-1.

Open access

Jan Macuda and Monika Konieczyńska


Shale formations have been recently treated only as source rocks and sealing packages mainly of conventional deposits. At present shales, which have a considerable concentration of highly mature organic matter appearing in complexes of over 30 m thick are used as unconventional sources for natural gas production with the use of advanced drilling technologies. Natural gas production in such rock formations necessitates performing a horizontal section in the borehole and a big number of hydraulic fracturing jobs. The unconventional shale gas deposits have been prospected also in Poland for a couple of years. Exploration works mainly concentrate on a vast area passing from Pomerania through Mazowsze to the Lublin region in Poland. The analysis of the geologic analyses reveals that the most perspective are shales in the Lower Paleozoic at a depth of 2500 m in the eastern part to about 4000 m in the western part of the area. The paper is focused on the quantitative and qualitative evaluation of environmental impact of natural gas exploration works from unconventional deposits. Special attention was paid to the hydraulic fracturing jobs in shales, which create particular hazard for water and soil environment. These hazards already appear at the stage of preliminary works, when big quantities of chemicals and water for frac jobs are stored in the rig area, and then, during realization of works, when the spent hydraulic fracturing fluid may penetrate the water-bearing horizons in the caprock. The composition of fracturing fluid used in Gapowo B-1A well are given along with the results of chemical analyses of a few parts of spent fracturing fluid samples pumped out from the borehole. The fluid turned out to be high in salt (high specific electrolyte conductance (SEC) and total dissolved substances (TDS) and a high toxicity for most of the living organisms). For this reason the spent fracturing fluid should not enter the environment without control.

Open access

Monika Konieczyńska, Jan Macuda, Stanisław Nagy and Jakub Siemek


This paper is a summary of results of environmental analysis conducted by PGI-NRI, AGH-UST within the monitoring of natural gas prospecting in unconventional deposits. All elements of natural environment were analyzed and on this basis the qualitative and quantitative impact of drilling and hydraulic fracturing of shales could be assessed. Special attention was drawn to the analysis of the physicochemical condition of post-reaction fluids, soil gas in the well pad area and drilling fluids. The results of analysis reveal that prospecting works do not create a significant environmental hazard. Some indices connected, e.g. with the noise climate lightly exceeded permissible values. Nonetheless, if extensive prospecting and production of shale gas are involved, the environmental studies need to be broadened to supplement this report.

Open access

Tomasz Zając, Agnieszka Synowiec, Andrzej Oleksy, Jan Macuda, Agnieszka Klimek-Kopyra and Franciszek Borowiec

Open access

Tomasz Zając, Agnieszka Synowiec, Andrzej Oleksy, Jan Macuda, Agnieszka Klimek-Kopyra and Franciszek Borowiec


Cereal straw is an important biomass source in Europe. This work assessed: 1) the morphological and energetic characteristics of culms of spring and winter cereals, 2) the energy deposited in the different aboveground parts of cereals, 3) losses of energy due to different cutting heights. The straw of winter and spring cereals was collected from arable fields during the seasons 2009/10 and 2010/11 in southern Poland. Detailed biometric measurements of culms and internodes were performed. The losses of straw biomass and energy were assessed during simulation of cutting the culm at different heights, up to 50 cm. Longer and heavier culms were developed by winter wheat and triticale and oat. Cutting of straw up to 10 cm did not lead to significant losses in straw yield. The total amount of energy in the culms was as follows: triticale > winter wheat > oat > spring wheat > winter barley > spring barley. Cutting the culms above 20 cm led to significant differences in terms of biomass energy between cereal species. The smallest losses of energy were recorded for spring and winter barley. Oat and barley accumulated the highest energy in grains.