Playbooks Supplements

Unconventional Yearbook 2018

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Page 86 of 107 | January 2018 | 85 COMPLETION OPTIMIZATION | 2018 UNCONVENTIONAL YEARBOOK at 147 billion tons, Fairmount Santrol is expecting demand this year to be about 100 billion tons, up from 75 billion tons in 2017. Driving the increase, he said, is demand for 100-mesh sand. Although the primary growth driver in the sand market will be of the 100-mesh variety, Melisaris said operators are beginning to demand 40/70 sand because they value its conductivity. "Customers believe they need the extra con- ductivity they get from the 40/70, although some other operators tell me they prefer 100-mesh sand because of the better proppant transfer in slickwa- ter and that they may be creating complex microf- ractures," he said. Fox said the completions plan at Encana takes into account several factors in addition to prop- pant volumes that have improved the company's well performances. "Rather than focus on proppant intensity or pounds per foot, we work to optimize fracture complexity, along with the grain size of the prop- pant, the distance between and design of perfo- ration clusters, and the proportions and rate of the fluid and proppant in the pumping sched- ule," Fox said. "These factors are interdependent and, by increasing the surface area impacted, we improve well performance. We have tests underway of several technologies including self-suspending proppant, improved perforation design, diverters for improved cluster efficiency, and nanoparticles; these tests are underway now and results are pend- ing—some results will be held confidential." At WPX, Downey said the company first identifies optimum cluster spacing and the number of clusters needed per stage before it focuses on optimizing its sand volumes. He said it's "extremely important" to emphasize long-term production when planning a sand strategy, and that more sand has more of an impact on a slower decline rate and a reservoir's EUR. "Long-term production and EUR performance will lead us to the best answers around sand type and volumes," he said. "One of the variables impacting the lateral length is the ability to get the rates and pressures to effectively stimulate the well at the toe." Companies looking for a more bespoke approach to proppant loading are turning to specialty designs such as resin-coated proppants. Their properties have the ability to enhance oil flow depending on the characteristics of a reser- voir's rocks. Jerry Kurinsky, senior vice president and general manager at Hexion, said resin-coated proppants are often the choice of operators seeking to enhance EUR, rather than focus on high IP rates that traditional sand usually offers. "We're seeing a positive trend in the uptake of resin-coated proppant, so if you look at the trends of the wells that are actually using that technology, it's grown significantly over the last year, which is a signal that the operators are starting to take a little bit of a longer view on the performance of their assets," Kurinsky said. During the commodities downturn, he said, com- panies often focused on reducing their short-term costs at the expense of the long-term performance of their assets, including their investments in prop- pants. But as prices slowly recover, operators are find- ing value in advanced proppant technologies, even if they cost more. Hexion's AquaBond resin-coated proppant helps reduce the amount of produced water from a well, and, as Kurinsky explained, saving money on produced water handling offsets the costs of specialty proppant products. "[Operators are] going to spend a bit more up front on the completions, but they will save more money as they produce," he said. Pinpoint and PNP fracturing By nearly every measure, operators continue to rely on traditional plug-and-perf (PNP) systems that use slickwater to fracture their wells. But the most Hexion's AquaBond proppant helps the production of formation water. (Photo courtesy of Hexion)

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