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 which were previously uneconomic are now being profitably developed, employing modern 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 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 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 cf the process, which was achieved via a fully integrated interdisciplinary project.

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