A Look Into What Fractures Really Look Like
- Stephen Rassenfoss (JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 28 - 36
- 2018. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
- 15 in the last 30 days
- 185 since 2007
- Show more detail
- View rights & permissions
|SPE Member Price:||Free|
|SPE Non-Member Price:||USD 17.00|
Reports from the Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site offer a glimpse into what hydraulic fractures really look like.
The featured attraction in the 13 technical papers presented over two mornings at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) was 600 ft of rock fractured in late 2015 near wells in the upper and middle Wolfcamp. Those core samples spawned a mind-boggling array of observations about the rock, proppant, and natural and hydraulic fractures, and how they all interact.
In the more than 2 years since the samples were gathered, the sections of core have been meticulously analyzed by teams of experts. More than 700 fractures were categorized based on whether each one was created by nature, hydraulic force, or the stress of drilling the slant well. And the majority of the 400 stages pumped were studied using tracers and/or monitored using advanced diagnostics.
The density and distribution of the fractures were measured as the scientists worked to understand how natural and hydraulic fractures interact. The bits of sand, calcite, and drilling mud found in and around the rock were collected and sorted. Automated imaging and painstaking manual examinations were used to measure the size, shape, and translucence of each grain in order to identify and quantify the grains.
The “incredible complexity” observed was “far beyond what current simulations can model and predict,” said Jordan Ciezobka, manager for research and development for the Gas Technology Institute (GTI), which managed the federal grant supporting test site 1 and is planning Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site 2 (URTeC 2937168).
Ciezobka predicted that findings from the first Permian test site hosted by Laredo Petroleum in the Midland Basin would be studied for years to come. The public-private partnership is just beginning to deliver the delayed reports of what it learned from the $25-million research project. Federal funding for the project requires the partnership to ultimately disclose its results, with data releases beginning later this year. The lag time rewards companies that supported the project with a long first look.
Cause and Effect?
The completion engineers in the room those two mornings likely left wanting more. With one exception, the talks avoided mentions of the ultimate measure of what works—production. Instead, they challenged widely held mental images of fracturing.
For one, fracture height is overrated. While microseismic testing indicated that fractures grew up about a 1,000 ft, the height of the propped fractures—the fractures most likely to produce oil and gas—was about 30 ft.
Proppant distribution was sporadic. While there were thick fractures full of sand inside, a paper describing fracturing (URTeC 2902624) said that only three of them were found among hundreds of propped fractures. And all of those were found in the upper Wolfcamp.
While the fractured lateral in the middle Wolfcamp was further from the slant well—135 ft vs. 90 ft from the nearest stage—the middle Wolfcamp core has a lot more proppant than the upper Wolf-camp core (URTeC 2902364).
|File Size||7 MB||Number of Pages||6|