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Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site (HFTS)
Project Number
DE-FE0024292
Last Reviewed Dated
Goal

This project is to conduct a field-based hydraulic fracturing research program for horizontal shale wells with the objectives of reducing and minimizing potential environmental impacts, demonstrating safe and reliable operations, and improving the efficiency of hydraulic fracturing. The research will advance our understanding of the hydraulic fracturing process in shale reservoirs, and thus, enable the design and execution of effective fracture stages that significantly contribute to production. Improved design and execution of fracture stages will also reduce the number of future infill wells drilled, and reduce water volume and energy input. A smaller environment footprint associated with shale drilling will be the result of this work.

Performer

Gas Technology Institute, Des Plaines, IL, 60018

Background

Despite the long history of hydraulic fracturing, the optimal number of fracturing stages during multi-stage fracture stimulation in horizontal wells is not known. In addition to the increased expense of multistage fracturing in horizontal wells, increasing the number of fracturing stages does not always correlate with an increase in production. The problem is the application of a uniform fracture stimulation design to all stages with no consideration for geological variations along the wellbore. The result is an inefficient use and costly waste of energy and water.

Optimization of the fracturing process requires an understanding of the cause-and-effect relationship between fracturing parameters and local geological properties at a given location along the wellbore. Realizing that the generalized rock mechanics theories and hypotheses are not truly applicable to fractured and laminated shales, quantifiable impacts of a shale’s geomechanical and depositional features are a prerequisite for design and implementation of optimized hydraulic fractures. The overarching goal of this project is to understand and define the relationships of shale geology and fracture dynamics using detailed field data that includes coring of the fracture domain. Analyses of the data will aid in updating fracture design models, and improve the effectiveness of individual hydraulic fracture stages.

Resource recovery from shale formations is currently estimated to be less than 10 percent. Research proposed in this project will establish the foundations for investigating enhanced recovery techniques for increased resource recovery in existing fracture treated wells. Natural gas as an Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) fluid is in the early stages of broad use in the oil and gas industry, and as such, many aspects of the process need to be researched and addressed prior to widespread acceptance. This project will investigate several of those aspects and will also help to accelerate acceptance of the technology due to the number of companies participating in the Joint Industry Project (JIP).

Impact

In conventional fracture stimulation, a selected fracture design is implemented at all fracture stages of a horizontal well without consideration for reservoir heterogeneity or dynamic stress changes that occur during fracturing. As a result, 50 percent of the total production from the well will come from about one-third of the fracture stages pumped. The intended fracturing optimization through the HFTS program aims to eliminate this inefficiency by creating effective fractures at every stage. The net effect of such efficiency improvement will increase production from the well with no increase in the amount of water, chemicals, proppants, and energy required. This translates to minimized air emissions and other environmental impacts associated with production of a unit volume of oil and gas.

The shale revolution has enabled the production of significant volumes of oil in some parts of the country, but inadequate infrastructure has resulted in an inability to transport the gas produced with the oil out of the field. In such cases, significant volumes of otherwise valuable gas are flared, resulting in greenhouse gas emissions and lost revenue. The proposed activities will investigate the potential for using flared or otherwise wasted gas to improve recovery efficiency of oil from shale by reinjecting the gas back into the reservoir for EOR purposes. Not only will this reduce the amount of natural gas being flared, but it will also increase the recovery efficiency of the resource and reduce the number of wells that will be needed to recover it. Another aspect of the overall activity is treatment of the produced water. This is beneficial in two ways. First, water in the Permian Basin is a commodity and if the produced water can be cleaned and used for other purposes, the environment and region as a whole will benefit. Second, less water will need to be injected down disposal wells, which has been linked to induced seismicity.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

Laredo Petroleum offered a field site for the project in August 2015. The Laredo site includes 11 horizontal wells (10,000’ horizontal legs) drilled through the Upper and Middle Wolfcamp formation in the Permian Basin. In addition, Laredo has vertical wells nearby, which are being used as observation wells. Significant events and field activities completed to date include:

  • Two open-hole logs in horizontal laterals (Image + Quad Combo).
  • Vertical pilot hole drilled through Wolfcamp formation.
    • Quad combo log run
    • Image log run
    • 57 rotary side wall cores recovered
    • 50 core vault side wall cores recovered
    • Diagnostic fracture injections tests conducted
  • Cross-well seismic surveys completed between three wells on test site prior to and post-hydraulic fracturing operations.
  • Toe diagnostic fracture injections tests were conducted in multiple wells.
  • Website established to share data between project partners.
  • Water and air samples collected prior to, during, and post-hydraulic fracturing operations.
  • 400+ fracture stages completed in the 11 wells.
  • Radioactive and chemical tracers used in stimulations.
  • Colored proppant markers used in two wells close to the slant core well to be drilled.
  • Microseismic monitoring conducted during fracture treatments.
  • Core planning workshops held to design slant core well and de-risk operations.
  • Slant Core Well drilled at 81 degrees through stimulated rock volume.
  • 595 ft of core recovered from Slant Core Well (437 ft of continuous core in the Upper Wolfcamp and 158 ft of continuous core in the Middle Wolfcamp).
  • Pressure gauges have been installed in slant core well to monitor pressure during production.
  • Core description has been completed by multiple teams, and results have been incorporated into a final core description report.
    • Two main sets of natural opening-mode fractures filled with calcite cement were identified trending broadly NE-SW and WNW-ESE.
    • A total of 11 faults were identified, all within the Upper Wolfcamp formation.
    • More than 700 total fractures (natural and induced) were identified in the core.
  • Fracture modeling is ongoing.
  • Completed analysis of sludge collected from core barrels. Results provide a detailed subsurface proppant distribution every three feet for the entire cored interval. Proppant size and concentration was quantified as well as the amount of natural fracture cements, providing an indication of natural fractures.
  • Proppant scraped from fractures of core is being analyzed to detect proppant quanitity and color.
  • Final microseismic processing has been completed for each fracture stage.
  • A core viewing workshop was held with all participants to showcase fractures and features in entire 595 feet of core.
  • Completed multiple-pad systematic pressure interference test on all 11 test wells.
  • A second sequential pressure interference test across 13 wells has been completed.
  • Slabbed entire slant core.
  • 3D Laser scanned all hydraulic fratcures and many natural fractures before slabbing core.
  • Geologic description of slabbed core.
Current Status

All planned work for Phase 1 has been completed and pressure, temperature, and production data from the test wells continues to be collected for future analysis. 

Work is ramping up in Phase 2, which is an EOR field pilot coupled with specific lab testing. The goal of the EOR activities is to determine the effectiveness of cycling gas injection (huff-and-puff) for increasing oil recovery from the Wolfcamp shale. Activities will include the injection of natural gas into a previously fracture stimulated well; instrumentation of wells and diagnostic data collection during the cyclic gas injection and production test; laboratory experiments to determine pressure, volume, and temperature behavior (including black oil study, minimum miscibility pressure slim tube analysis, swell testing, etc.); advanced analysis of passive seismic including Moment Tensor Inversion (MTI); application of a subsurface environmental risk tool to evaluate the potential for undesired fluid migration or induced seismicity to occur during development; the drilling of a slant observation well (including the collection of whole core through the fracture domain, openhole logs, installation of behind pipe pressure modules and cased hole logs); and the demonstration of a membrane distillation water clean-up process.

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution

$11,712,923

Performer Contribution

$15,284,846

Contact Information

NETL – Gary Covatch (gary.covatch@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4589)
GTI-Jordan Ciezobka (jordan.ciezobka@gastechnology.org or 847-768-0924)

Additional Information

NETL-Backed Field Testing Project Seeks to Improve Efficiency and Safety of Hydraulic Fracturing (Dec 2017)
With a long record of success advancing hydraulic fracturing innovations, NETL teamed with Gas Technology Institute (GTI) of Des Plaines, Ill., to develop and execute a hydraulic fracturing test site program to answer questions, advance the understanding of the hydraulic fracturing processes to attain greater efficiencies, and improve environmental impacts.

Hydraulic Fracturing Test Sites (Aug 2017)
Presented by Jordan Ciezobka, Gas Technology Institute, 2017 Carbon Storage and Oil and Natural Gas Technologies Review Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA

Hydraulic Fracturing Test Sites (Aug 2016)
Presented by Jordan Ciezobka, Institute of Gas Technology, 2016 Carbon Storage and Oil and Natural Gas Technologies Review Meeting, Pittsburgh, PA