The advent of horizontal drilling has famously combined with the older hydraulic fracking technique to bring about a revolution in the global energy industry (outside the EU that is, for within the Union poverty generation dominates the political agenda). So while European consumers worry about their energy bills, in North America, the glut of shale gas has caused a collapse in gas prices, to the extent that few in the gas industry can now make money.
However, with the technology being so new, innovation is still an important factor in the economics of shale gas and it is therefore not unexpected that cost is being driven out of the system.
...using a proprietary system called Hiway that only became commercially viable last year, Schlumberger's fracker in chief believes he has knocked a lump out of the infant industry's three major cost components; water, sand, and trucks.
Schlumberger is already using the system on nearly a third of all fracking jobs, and expects that to rise rapidly to 50-70 percent, according to Kyel Hodenfield, the company's vice president for unconventional resources.
"It can vary, but using Hiway we generally say you need 40 percent less proppant," (graded sand mixed with guar gum or lubricating chemicals), he told Reuters in an interview.
"Water is more variable, but it's somewhere between 20 and 50 percent less."
Less sand, less water and less pumping adds up to fewer trucks, Hodenfield explained on the sidelines of the Offshore Northern Seas (ONS) conference in Stavanger, Norway.