An investigation of the performance of a group of Bakken, Montana and North Dakota, wells was conducted for the purpose of assessing the relative benefit of premium ceramic proppants compared to 20/40 white sand, other ceramic proppants and a mixture of proppants. The observed production histories of the wells, normalized for reservoir quality, severity of pressure drawdown and treatment type and size, were used as the basis for the comparison. Production history, rather than logs, were used to determine reservoir quality (kh). The primary performance metrics employed were: apparent or effective fracture half-length normalized for the amount of placed proppant, sustainability of the reservoir/wellbore connectivity, an initial normalized productivity metric and average gross incremental value at the end of the normalized observed production histories. The two premium proppants had similar benefit, while the third ceramic proppant actually performed more poorly than the 20/40 white sand. Sensitivity to the various damage mechanisms, such as rapid reduction in surface flowing pressure, extended delay in first production after stimulation and the impact of shut-ins are discussed in the paper. Based on this work, there is also evidence of significant under-performance that arises from mixing proppant types. All of these observations call into question the “minimum cost” well management strategy.
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