This paper discusses the results of a study made to evaluate the effectiveness of sintered bauxite as a propping agent for Mesaverde fracture stimulations in Wyoming's Wamsutter Tight Formation Gas Area. It is generally accepted that bauxite should be used when closure pressure exceeds 8000 psi (55 MPa). Above this pressure, sand undergoes significant crushing resulting in very large reductions in permeability. However, in areas similar to Wamsutter, where the closure pressure ranges from 6000 to 8000 psi (41 to 55 MPa), it is not clear whether sand or bauxite should be used.

A reservoir simulator and an economic model were used to optimize fracture length and to determine if bauxite should be used in Wamsutter. It was found that well performance can be accurately predicted with the simulator when a 0.1 in situ fracture flow capacity correction is made to laboratory measured fracture flow capacities.

Over the range of permeabilities studied, (0.01 to 0.4 md) it was determined that bauxite should be used as the propping agent rather than sand. The economic benefits of using bauxite are greatest at the higher reservoir permeabilities. At a reservoir permeability of 0.4 md the optimum fracture length is 2000 feet (610 m) when using bauxite, while at a reservoir permeability of 0.01 md the optimum fracture length is 5000 feet (1,524 m).

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