Early hydraulic fracturing completions in the Vaca Muerta Formation in central Argentina have incorporated the use of conventional fluid systems, such as linear and crosslinked guar-based polymers. Within the past few years, however, the benefits of viscosifying friction reducers (VFR) have been demonstrated in the industry, predominantly within the United States. The objective of this project was to trial the VFR fluid technology in fracturing operations in this area for potential use for full field development.

After studying the potential advantages of the VFR technology including cost savings, simplified operations and enhanced well production, a project was initiated to determine if those same benefits could be obtained. To accomplish this, studies were performed to ensure economic and technical justification through a stepwise process of laboratory testing, logistical and operational considerations, a single well field trial, and a five well development phase evaluation project. The pilot project was performed on a horizontal, 27 stage lateral in the Aguada Pichana Oeste field in the Neuquen Basin of Argentina. The five well development phase evaluation project was performed in the Lindero Atravesado field.

Positive laboratory test results led to a field trial using this technology, during which several benefits of the VFR fluid system began to emerge. Operational efficiency was an early success, including a reduction in the quantity of chemicals on location, more simplified pumping schedules, and low pumping pressures. Secondly, significant cost savings were realized compared to previous fluid system packages. Finally, positive production results were observed, leading to the decision to incorporate this technology into full field development operations. This paper will review the results of the stepwise evaluation process along with a focus on the economic benefits and well production from the development phase evaluation project.

This paper describes the transition by Pan American Energy (PAE) from conventional fracturing fluids to viscosifying friction reducer (VFR) technology in the Vaca Muerta Formation. The paper highlights the performance of a relatively new treatment fluid which delivered positive results in a strategic international asset. The project has led to full field development using this technology. The same efficiencies provided by this system can potentially be realized through applications in other basins.

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