The Bakken production system is well established as a premier oil producing basin. Over the last 20 years improvements in drilling and completion designs have led to significant improvements in well productivity and increased EUR. One recent design change has been the incorporation of microproppant in the fracture design, which was deployed in a multi-well field study and shown to improve production, and is the subject of this paper.

As the industry continued to move to smaller size proppant, microproppants have been introduced as another potential improvement in the fracture design, supplementing the benefits of 100 mesh sand. It is theorized that microproppant can provide two primary benefits to well productivity – propping open microfractures, which reduces the production decline, and assisting in the breakdown of the perforations, thereby improving cluster efficiency. Production improvement has been documented in various basins across North America, leading one operator to design and implement a multi-well field trial to evaluate the production impact of microproppant in their Bakken completions.

This paper will provide a brief overview of microproppant technology and recent deployments across other basins, illustrating both productivity improvement as well as enhanced proppant placement. It will then focus on the multi-well field study performed in the Bakken in late 2021. In this trial, seven wells included the use of microproppant and are compared to 13 offset wells which deployed a comparable completion design, but without the microproppant. In the study area, the lateral lengths and proppant deployed per foot of lateral were held constant, and the wells/results are segregated between the Middle Bakken and Three Forks benches. To date, wells deploying microproppant show an average overall production uplift sufficient for the operator to pursue a larger scale field trial. This paper will discuss the completion design including details on how the microproppant was deployed. It will also include the general, initial production comparison between the trial and control wells.

This paper will continue to challenge engineers thinking on the role of proppant and how to best engineer the completion and fracture design to maximize recovery and return on investment. It will review a field study deploying the use of microproppant, as well as the design details, making it beneficial for completion engineers who desire to deploy microproppant. It will also be valuable for reservoir engineers searching for ways to improve cluster efficiency and overall hydrocarbon recovery.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.