Abstract

The theoretical understanding and technology of hydraulic fracturing has shown tremendous progress over the last ten years. This is illustrated by the significant commitment of oil and service company research funds over this period to develop the required capabilities. Fields period to develop the required capabilities. Fields which were previously uneconomic are now being profitably developed, employing modem profitably developed, employing modem hydraulic fracturing technology. The development of this technology required input from disciplines as diverse as rock mechanics, equipment engineering and production chemistry. Shell's participation in this high technology story is participation in this high technology story is illustrated by their research developments over the last ten years and the ways in which technological hurdles to applying the developments in the field have been successfully overcome.

We show how the treatment size and aggressiveness has increased over the years so as to raise well productivity. The development of unique research equipment and its impact on material selection and treatment design is described.

The understanding of the rock mechanical aspects of the fracturing process has been completely revised which, after field calibration, allows much more productive fractures to be placed. The application of this technology is placed. The application of this technology is illustrated by the development history of a 24-well offshore field. The high individual well production rates led to new problems with proppant back-production. The solution required a good understanding of the process, which was achieved via a fully integrated interdisciplinary project. project

Introduction

Hydraulic fracturing treatments are frequently required to ensure economic production rates from wells completed in low to production rates from wells completed in low to moderate Permeability formations. This type of stimulation treatment involves placing layers of proppant material in the created fracture thereby proppant material in the created fracture thereby greatly enhancing the inflow area of the formation to the wellbore.

Hydraulic fracturing makes a significant contribution to the worldwide oil and gas production. It has proved to be capable of production. It has proved to be capable of increasing both well production and the ultimate recovery achievable from a particular well and/or field. The fracturing process was patented by the Amoco Production Company in 1949. Initially, technical progress was slow, given the need to develop both an understanding of the processes involved as well as reliable, specialized equipment. By 1981, it was already claimed that some 800,000 treatments had been performed with some 40% of all wells in North America being fractured. An additional eight billion barrels of oil had been added to reserves. Hydraulic fracturing has become increasingly important in international operations and will eventually be applied on a similar scale to that described above for North America in 1980.

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