Weather Forecast


Frackers fight back: RockPile uses outreach, tour of site to teach about hydraulic fracturing

Press Photo by Katherine Lymn CEO Curt Dacar demonstrates the flubber-like consistency of frac fluid on Tuesday in the RockPile Energy Service’s lab at its Dickinson office.

In most debates, the best stance to take is an informed one.

That in mind, RockPile Energy Services hosted a tour group Tuesday in efforts to educate about the controversial but hugely popular hydraulic fracturing process.

0 Talk about it

“As you guys are well aware, fracking is a bad word in the industry,” RockPile CEO Curt Dacar said to the group of community businesspeople and his own employees.

He said Tuesday’s “Fracturing 101” lesson and afternoon frac site tour were a form of public outreach to correct any misunderstanding or misinformation, of which there’s a lot with fracking.

Dacar said the lesson originated with his own employee training — crews who had been working in the fracking industry even four or five years still hadn’t gained a complete understanding of the science of it, so this helped.

The event was part of a pattern of the usually quiet oil industry counterstriking environmentalists’ anti-fracking campaigns with their own public relations efforts.

Another example of that trend was a part of Tuesday’s tour as Dacar showed the 25-minute film “Down Deep,” a professionally produced film commissioned by WPX Energy that purports to clear up the fracking debate, but has a nuanced leaning toward industry.

Denver-based RockPile provides fracturing services for various Williston Basin operators, with much of its business coming from Triangle Petroleum Corp. and Whiting Petroleum Corp.

From the first-known oil wells drilled with bamboo poles in 347 AD China to North Dakota’s recent role in the race to “energy independence,” Dacar provided a brief history of oil.

He also delved into the technical side of fracking, including today’s plug-and-perf and sliding sleeve completion methods.

At a fracking site north of Fryburg, RockPile representatives divvied up the approximately 15 visitors and showed them everything from the “perf guns” used to fracture the shale to the control room, where the status of a current frac job was shown NASA-style, with multiple screens showing different aspects of the frac.

Attendees were appreciative at the amount of information shared, and in awe at the complexity of the fracking process.

“I learned a lot more details,” Valerie Wiedrich, who works as a personal banker at Wells Fargo, said of the morning presentation. “It does give another side to the story.”

In his morning presentation, Dacar focused on combatting what many bring up as negatives of fracking.

The chemical composition of frac water is a hot topic among environmentalists, and Dacar took that on. He said RockPile’s fluids are more than 98 percent water and sand.

The remaining 2 percent is made of acids, agents and other chemicals found in common products like hair dye and bar soap.