Hydraulic fracturing in unconventional reservoirs has increased rapidly in the past ten years. Each year, technologies are improved and methodologies are refined, making this process faster, safer, and more economical.
Currently, plug-and-perforate is the most common type of hydraulic fracturing diversion method. During this type of operation, composite plugs are spaced into a wellbore to divert the hydraulic fracturing treatment to a specific zone in the reservoir. After each wellbore has been thoroughly fractured, coiled tubing or threaded pipe, in tandem with positive displacement motors, is summoned to remove the composite plugs from the wellbore to enable production.
This paper will describe a new zonal isolation technology that will provide operators with a number of benefits that improve operational efficiency and enable earlier production. The benefits from this technology include eliminating the necessity for composite plug removal after the conclusion of all zonal stimulations, and a far larger than traditional ID through which high-rate flowback and production can be accommodated. An integral aspect of this technology is the use of disintegrating fracturing balls that rapidly deteriorate after stimulation. By eliminating composite plug removal, operators will spend fewer days on location, reducing HS+E risks. Operators can also complete longer lateral wellbores more quickly and economically. In general, operators will also realize reduced total zonal completion cost and achieve quicker production when compared to traditional plug-and-perf completion methods. Finally, this new zonal isolation technology may enable future intervention for re-stimulation operations, if required.
As exploitation of unconventional reservoirs grows globally, this technology will give operators more flexibility in designing completions, particularly in remote locations.