The number of hydrofracking alternatives available to the energy companies is extremely limited. The one option that is not available is not fracking the wells at all. This is especially true for the natural gas and oil wells recovering the energy reserves in the Marcellus shale rock deposit.
The only alternative that produces the same type of results as hydrofracking is propane fracking. This uses propane in a gel state instead of water. The frac sand is still present and the use of pressure is still applied to crack the rock bed so the energy reserves can be released for recovery.
This alternative actually has an advantage over hydrofracking. When water is used in the fracking process, it remains in the same liquid state as it was when it was injected to the well. This then requires a week or better for the water to be removed before the natural gas or oil can be recovered from the well.
With propane fracking, the slurry is made up of propane in a gel state and frac sand. When this medium is injected to the well, pressure is applied. Once the shale rock formation is crushed, the gel expands and the gel changes state to a gas. At or near this same time the pressure is released at the well bore. This helps the conversion of the gel to a gas state.
With the fracking slurry converted to a gas state, it can be more easily recovered than the liquid water. In most instances this recovery process only takes 48 hours or less before the natural gas or oil can begin to be recovered. In this process, the propane is collected in a recovery tank. This is different than the hydrofracking process where the water is channeled to a collection pond near the well bore.
If the uses of neither of these types of fracking processes are used in a shale rock formation, the amount of energy reserves that would be extracted from each well would not be commercially viable. That would leave the oil and natural gas deposits in the ground with the energy companies drilling for elsewhere.
With the easy to recover energy reserves nearly gone, the expense of finding new reserves is limited. There is a possibility of new reserves under the floor of the Arctic Ocean, but the expense for recovering this energy is significantly more.
With the limited number of Hydrofracking alternatives available to the energy companies and an increase in the demand for their product, choices have to be made. For the communities that do not permit the use of hydrofracking to be used in wells in their area, are they ready for the dramatic increase in prices of oil and natural gas to sustain their supply line? The answer in most cases is no.