Production Acceleration or Additional Recovery? A Look Back at Three Published Field Trials - Long-Term Benefits of Improved Fracture Treatments
- Dennis Denney (JPT Senior Technology Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 57 - 59
- 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 40 since 2007
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This article, written by Senior Technology Editor Dennis Denney, contains highlights of paper SPE 144349, "Production Acceleration or Additional Recovery? A Look Back at Three Published Field Trials To Determine the Long-Term Benefits of Improved Fracture Treatments," by K. Blackwood, SPE, Highmount Energy; P. Handren, SPE, Denbury Resources; and M. Chapman, SPE, T. Palisch, SPE, and J. Godwin, SPE, Carbo Ceramics, prepared for the 2011 SPE North American Unconventional Gas Conference & Exhibition, The Woodlands, Texas, 14-16 June. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
Improved fracture-treatment designs can increase production rates from many reservoirs. However, do these changes merely accelerate recovery, or is incremental production gained by changing the fracture design? The authors re-examined three tight gas case studies published in the past 10 years. The original studies were performed specifically to assess the effects of increased fracture conductivity on production. In all cases, the initial analyses documented that increasing conductivity appeared to increase production and recovery.
Since the first commercial hydraulic-fracture treatments in 1949, treatment designs have evolved from experimentation with massive hydraulic fractures to proppantless water-fracture treatments. While the production increase in the first few months or even the first year typically repays the cost of the conductivity upgrade, and is robust enough to make the decision to upgrade relatively simple, it is important to know whether this increase can be translated into additional ultimate recovery. If the ultimate recovery is also increased, then the economics of the completion upgrade may be even more favorable because it leads to a potential increase in reserves and drainage area per well, which in turn can lead to a reduction in the number of wells needed to drain the reservoir effectively.
In all cases, comparisons were made between high-quality ceramic proppants and either uncoated or resin-coated sand (RCS). In the past, conventional wisdom incorrectly suggested that hydraulic fractures in most tight gas wells behaved as “infinitely conductive.” This misperception arose from a poor understanding of proppant performance under downhole (realistic) conditions. Under realistic conditions, all proppants should be expected to lose more than 90% of their effective conductivity. By reanalyzing these case studies with longer term production results, the authors sought to determine whether the original conclusions still hold true, and whether confidence in the recovery projections can be determined.
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