The Dry Utica play is an exciting unconventional gas development currently unfolding in the Appalachian Basin. Published results for several wells exceed an average Initial Production (IP) rate of 60 MMcf/day. However, complexities in the reservoir can make the developmental learning curve steep. Challenges include true vertical depths (TVDs) of 9,000 to 13,500 feet, pore pressures of 0.8 to 0.99 psi/ft, and bottom hole temperatures of up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit. In addition, the reservoir has high stresses, high closure pressures, complex and varying mineralogies. Among the greatest challenges in Dry Utica field development is cost effective proppant and frac fluid design and selection. In order to achieve an adequate return on investment:

  1. Proppant design has to be optimized to withstand high pore and closure pressures and overall high stresses, but also be cost effective.

  2. Frac fluid design has to be compatible with varying mineralogies to avoid a steep decrease in fracture conductivity.

This paper discusses field testing of proppant design and selection and how cost, geological, reservoir, and rock properties affect the completion design and well production. The paper will also review frac fluid design used for proppant transportation and placement, and potential issues with formation mineralogies, as well as mitigation. Field case histories with managed production draw down and how that can affect proppant inside a fracture will also be reviewed.

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