Unconventional reservoirs require innovative completion techniques and technology to become more economical. Formations vary drastically in lithology, lateral lengths, completion methods, and financial drivers. Since reservoir conditions typically mandate the use of hydraulic fracturing for economical production results, a significant amount of resources are focused on making the fracturing process more efficient and lowering its environmental impact.
This case history includes an operational review focused on a novel technique to rapidly perform targeted annular hydraulic fractures by deploying an activation tool on coiled tubing (CT) to open frac sleeves in a horizontal well. The paper covers results and information gathered from the first operation of its kind in Montana's Bakken Formation – where a total of 19 stages were fractured in the shaley dolomite.
The new technology does not involve dropping balls or setting composite plugs to isolate stages. Rather, the technique utilizes frac sleeves that are activated using a CT bottomhole assembly to save time between stages. The sleeves can be cemented in place if desired and have a full-bore internal diameter that does not require post-treatment composite plug millouts, further reducing overall completion time and time to production. Additional capabilities of the system enable the use of memory gauges to monitor downhole pressure and temperature characteristics.
The operator preferred this method due to its targeted nature, efficiency, and fluid savings. As opposed to multicluster fracturing methods (such as ‘plug-n-perf"), a single entry point during the frac job promotes increased fluid velocity, enabling a more aggressive sand ramp and reduction in required hydraulic horsepower. Similarly, the single entry point ensures that a fracture is generated at each port, as opposed to the possibility that some clusters are not treated. In addition, no composite plugs or diverting devices are required to be pumped down the wellbore, so water usage is reduced considerably. The system, already used in thousands of fracturing stages in Canada, speeds up the completion process, uses less fluid, minimizes risks, and reduces overall downtime.