Permian Basin 2018

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PERMIAN BASIN: TECHNOLOGY 36 | October 2018 | Back when a hydraulic fracturing job required one or two stages, a little allowance was granted for the petroleum engineers. This is no longer the case. In shale plays that require many stages, it's very helpful to know exactly where those fractures are going. Often it helps to intersect natural fractures, and other times it's best to avoid them. But operators haven't always understood the mechanics necessary to develop these challenging plays. A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) project is attempting to solve this issue by coring into fractured reservoirs to determine fracture patterns as well as environmental impacts, fracture efficiencies, and safe and reliable operations. The study, conducted with the Gas Technology Institute, Laredo Petroleum and other partners, is intended to provide information about how fractures spread underground during shale operations. According to the DOE website, current fracturing operations are "inefficient in several aspects." The idea is that having a better understanding of how fractures actually propagate underground could reduce the number of wells being drilled as well as the amount of water, sand and energy required, resulting in a smaller environmental footprint, according to the website. The bulk of the study was based on 11 10,000-ft laterals in the upper and middle portions of the Wolfcamp Formation in the Permian Basin. About 600 ft of core was acquired from these fractures. "The process allowed researchers to obtain phenomenal-quality core samples," the study noted. "Based on a first look at the core, the research team predicts that the fundamental understanding of hydraulic fracture propagation, modeling and effectiveness is about to undergo a game-changing alteration." These observations will include the concepts of fracture connectivity and conductivity, according to the study, and also will better indicate drainage patterns across multiple formations. Data acquired included • Well logs; • Sidewall cores; • Diagnostic fracture injection tests; • Crosswell seismic surveys; • Water and air samples; • Production and pressure monitoring; • Radioactive and chemical tracers; • Colored proppant; • Microseismic monitoring; and • Fiber-coil production logs. As of early this year, field data analysis was continuing. Q Permian Study Attempts to Determine More about Fractures Chevron uses hydraulic fracturing to free oil and gas trapped in tight rock. (Photo courtesy of Chevron) Yes, the rock has cracked. But is all of that time and effort actually producing results? By Rhonda Duey Senior Editor, Exploration

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