The objective of this paper is to highlight the preconceived notions that both ultra-low polymer cross-linked gels and high viscosity polyacrylamide fluid systems are difficult to work with or damaging to formations. The paper discusses when such systems are beneficial as well as define some design restrictions. Historically these types of fluid systems have fallen into a gray area of technology that have now become accepted by some operators in the current low-cost market.

The fluids technology discussed in this paper have blossomed not solely because of their technological advancement, but also due to the market. Industry downturns have forced operators and service companies to find more cost-effective means to stimulate the reservoirs in question. This paper examines the use of these new systems in two regions (Williston and DJ Basins), where hundreds of wells have been pumped with these new systems as well as regained conductivity tests performed in 3rd party labs. We also compare production results of thousands of stages pumped with these new systems versus a more traditional approach.

Over the past decade the DJ Basin has be primarily been stimulated with high-priced low pH zirconate CMHPG fluid systems, as a result of the notion that they leave less residue in the fractures. However, with the very cost sensitive market and the new ultra-low polymer systems testing with higher regained conductivity than the incumbent system, change was inevitable.

In the Williston Basin high rate slickwater jobs have become more commonplace. Hybrid designs have been used to increase proppant loadings. However, a new trend to use significantly higher FR concentrations to achieve a system capable of placing higher proppant concentrations is gaining market share.

This leads to the current obstacles for both systems’ further use in the field. These obstacles are threefold:

  • The notion that the system is contaminating the proppant pack with residue. Lab testing shows this not to be the case.

  • Reconditioning field personnel to run the new systems as designed.

  • Ensure that these systems are not used in designs that do not fit the operational criteria without understanding the limitations.

The success of all of these items remain attached to the final product, a well producing as much as, or more, for a lower total cost than the more traditional method.

This paper uses data from the lab and field to challenge many of the preconceived notions about what it takes to successfully place a solid stimulation package. Also, it will address how some of the largest barriers to new technology are predominantly mental, while the new products are technically sound and economically superior.

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