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Unconventional Yearbook 2018

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Page 76 of 107 | January 2018 | 75 COMPLETION OPTIMIZATION | 2018 UNCONVENTIONAL YEARBOOK W ell completions have come a long way since the days when the process of get- ting a well ready for production consisted of run- ning a steel pipe down the wellbore, casing it in cement and hooking up the surface pump fixtures for delivery of the oil into a pipeline or truck to be delivered to a refinery. Today, the economic success of a producing well is largely dependent upon how the well is completed. When the cost of completing a well ranges from $6 million to $9 million per well—sometimes up to 60% of the total cost of the well, according to Encana's 2016 fourth-quarter investor presenta- tion—operators are often reluctant to move too far away from proven technologies and systems. The incremental improvements companies have leveraged have resulted in substantial advances in efficiency. The variability among wellbores leads to well completions being as much art as science and engi- neering. The process is not as simple as product assembly lines—the end product may all be the same, but the means of getting there vary for each instance. One size does not fit all. Optimized well completions are becoming a key strategy for operators looking to drive down costs and increase well recoveries. Longer laterals, decreased distances between stage spacing, higher fracturing stage counts and tons more proppant— these are the hallmarks of leading-edge completion designs. Well completion strategies are evolving quickly, and they are proving to be a key component in the matrix in offsetting low commodity prices. "The pace of learning and change is moving briskly, and the evolution will be ongoing when you consider the investments in land, softer commodity prices, investor expectations and the emphasis on technical excellence," said Rich Downey, vice presi- dent of drilling and completions at WPX. A market forecast by Westwood Global Energy Group issued in October predicted expenditures in the oilfield services market could reach $55 billion by 2022, with spending on completions accounting for the largest portion of that amount. The report focused on expected spending activity forecasts for six unconventional oil and gas plays in North America: the Denver-Julesburg Niobrara (DJ-Niobrara), Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Midcontinent, Permian and Williston basins. "Importantly for OFS [oilfield services] com- panies it sees future expenditure weighted heavily toward equipment and services at the comple- tions end of the market," Westwood reported. "For instance, in the DJ-Niobrara the average lateral length has increased 31% to 8,114 ft over 2014-2017." Westwood also reported that completions expenditures accounted for 64% of overall Perm- ian spending in 2017, up from 42% in 2014. Steve Robertson, head of OFS research at Westwood Global Energy Group, said in a press release that the results of the study indicated a change in the perception of the state of the oil and gas industry. "It's time to re-think how we measure OFS industry activity in North America," Robertson said. "This report shows that the rig count is Enhanced Completions Drive Production Gains Innovations in spacing, lateral lengths and proppant usage are leading to more oil. By Brian Walzel, Associate Editor

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