GTI is leading a high-profile program on Hydraulic Fracturing Test Sites (HFTS), collaborating with industry and government. This program could fundamentally change the hydraulic fracturing process, reservoir recovery rates, and eliminate the need for thousands of wells, which would provide a tremendous reduction in the environmental footprint of production.
The HFTS represents the most comprehensive hydraulic fracturing research to date. Unique experiments in the Permian Basin in Texas are yielding critical new data that will help improve the efficiency, safety, and reliability of the hydraulic fracturing process. The goal is to understand fracturing, optimize required well spacing, and reduce the environmental impacts of responsible development.
The research is producing new datasets of unprecedented value and providing a first-ever look at how induced underground fractures spread within horizontal wellbores. By optimizing the network of natural and induced fractures, recovery can be greatly increased from current rates that are typically below 20% for shale gas. More efficient production will mean that fewer wells will need to be drilled, fewer trucks will be required, less water will be used, emissions will be reduced, and community impact will be minimized, all while producing more shale gas.
These crucial new findings will influence how thousands of future wells are drilled in West Texas shales and elsewhere.
Who is Funding HFTS #1?
The Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), along with multiple operators and service companies, including Core Laboratories, Devon, Discovery Natural Resources, Encana, Energen, Halliburton, and TOTAL, provided initial funding of $23 million for HFTS #1. Laredo Petroleum Inc. (LPI) hosted the test site, and industry contributed an estimated $100 million+ of background information necessary for research on all aspects of hydraulic fracturing. New funding from Chevron, Shell, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and SM Energy will provide for additional testing and analysis at the site.
Where is the Research Being Conducted?
The HFTS #1 research site was in the Wolfcamp formation at the Midland portion of the Permian Basin. The overall Permian covers 86,000 square miles and encompasses 52 counties in New Mexico and Texas and is one of the oldest hydrocarbon-bearing regions in the U.S. Although the region is often characterized as a singular play with homogeneous geology and stratigraphy, it actually features a significant degree of geologic complexity.
What Has Happened to Date?
In September 2015, the HFTS #1 research team drilled and stimulated eleven 10,000-foot-long horizontal wells. More than 400 fracture stages were completed in those wells. Using microseismic and tiltmeter technologies, the team monitored the fracturing process.
Approximately 600 feet of unique core was obtained by drilling a one-of-a-kind core well through created hydraulic fractures at the test site.
In addition, datasets gathered from the experiment include geophysical logs, new microseismic surveys acquired during hydraulic fluid pumping, new cross-well seismic data from vertical wells in the experiment, new pressure information, and time-and-space location of hydraulic fracturing fluids containing tracers that are recovered from the through-core well or the producing horizontal wells.
Following the first look at the core, the team was able to glean game-changing insights about hydraulic fracturing propagation, modeling, and effectiveness. In late 2016, researchers from the Bureau of Economic Geology, ConocoPhillips and CoreLabs completed a description of the through-fracture core, providing critical information.
The analysis of fracture properties as impacted by reservoir rock conditions will help researchers develop a cause-and-effect relationship between fracturing parameters and reservoir rock to measure the consequences of fracturing—results that can be applied to other locations and plays. Important data about subsurface fracture propagation and proppant transport dynamics will lead to the design of optimal fracture treatments and, ultimately, ideal well spacing.
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DOE Energy Talks March 2017
8,000 Feet Below: Gaining Better Understanding of Subsurface & Hydraulic Fracturing
Eddie Johnston Congressional Testimony May 3, 2017
Energy Subcommittee Hearing—Oil and Gas Technology Innovation