Every new oil and gas development goes through a typical growth cycle starting with the discovery well. A large part of that growth process is optimizing the well completion techniques ad this tends to be the most difficult process to optimize due to the difficulty in measuring the success or failure of these changes. When modifications are made in the drilling process results can be measured almost immediately while changes in well completions can take months or years to evaluate and require the analysis of many variables.

Determining the optimal fracturing treatment in North Dakota's Bakken has been a widely discussed topic in recent years. Data from field trials, which focus on a few dozen wells, provide broadly contradicting claims regarding the ideal proppant that should be used in the fracture treatment. This lack of agreement results in a disparity between treatment practices in otherwise geographically close wells that are completed in similar formations. This paper will utilize a statistically significant volume of publicly available, operator-originated data, with the intent of making a data-driven determination regarding the optimal treatment.

This paper combines production data from the North Dakota Industrial Commission (NDIC) and completion reports from the publicly accessible FracFocus 2.0 database which contains over 2,900 well records from the Bakken. The statistical analysis of this data reveals a correlation between the proppant type used and the well performance in the Bakken Formation.

This data was pared down to concentrate on the Central Basin which consists of McKenzie and Williams counties. Comparing the long term performance of 205 wells from this area indicates a clear advantage of ceramic proppants over other proppant types. The results of this analysis show that ceramic proppants result in a slower production decline which leads to significant increases (20-40%) in 6 month and 1 year cumulative production. This increase in well production more than offsets any additional completion cost resulting in an improved ROI.

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