An article by David Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle, Acidizing could rival fracking in the Monterrey Shale, has pointed to a growing practice of using powerful acids to dissolve rock and free petroleum within. In addition to the high volume of water that is frequently used, it poses yet another dangerous risk to groundwater from contamination. As usual the companies refuse to reveal what acids are used and how.
Excerpt of article: Fracking hasn’t unleashed an oil production boom in California, at least not yet. Could acid?
Companies trying to pry oil from a vast shale formation beneath Central California have been pumping powerful acids underground to dissolve the rock and free the petroleum within.
And there are hints that the process, known as “acidizing” a well, may work better than hydraulic fracturing in California’s Monterey Shale, estimated to hold 15.4 billion barrels of oil.
“There’s a lot of discussion around the Monterey Shale that it doesn’t require fracking, that acidizing will be enough to open up the rock,” said Chris Faulkner, chief executive officer of Breitling Oil and Gas. “I think it could be a way to unlock the Monterey. And people need to understand that this is a huge resource that could mean a lot of jobs.”
For all its potential, acidizing in California remains a bit of a mystery. State regulators don’t keep tabs on how often oil companies use the process. Nor have they studied its potential risks in depth.
Most oil companies will say little in public about acidizing. They don’t want to reveal too much information to their competitors, each of which has its own methods and chemical formula. They also don’t want to draw the attention of the state’s powerful environmental lobby.