In mature fields, operators are often seeking ways to increase the hydrocarbon recovery, with the help of reputable service companies. Well stimulation continues to be, by far, the preferred method of achieving such goal. Operators and service companies are continually screening out technologies which will deliver the highest benefit/cost ratio for a particular stimulation well treatment, maintaining focus on operational and health, safety and environment excellencies.
This paper addresses the rebirth of a past hydraulic fracturing technique, born in the 50's, and how it is being successfully applied on onshore mature fields in Brazil: batch fracturing. It is effective due to several technological advancements on proppant density, becoming lighter than conventional frac sand and yet with sufficient mechanical properties to withstand bottom-hole environments. Batch fracturing is now contributing to equally efficient, and more economical well stimulation treatments, providing good economical returns to operating companies.
Batch-Fracturing had limited success in the past. This was due to the available frac fluid and proppant technologies at that time. It is desirable that proppants have low settling when carried by a fracturing fluid, from the time they are added into such fluid, until the end of the pumping process. Batch fracturing applications are on the rise, due to the new families of ultra lightweight proppants, with specific gravities ranging from 1.05 to 1.75. In batch fracturing, the proppant is added to the carrier fluid prepared in standard oilfield mixing tanks, eliminating the need of specialized mixing equipment such as blenders. Less sophisticated equipment on location implies in lower operational and logistical costs. The carrier fluid ("frac fluid") does not need to yield high levels of viscosity, and, by consequence, does not have a high load of chemicals (gelling agents, cross-linkers, related breakers…). With batch fracs it is possible to perform common but effective types of fracturing treatments, such as "skin-by-pass" (a fracture that by-passes the damaged zone), and "partial mono layer' fracturing, both exemplified in this paper, through case histories.
Today, most of the producing oil and gas fields are considered mature. Although continually being redefined, a field is considered mature when its current level of hydrocarbon production has passed its past production peak. Associated with the reservoir's production depletion, there are other hydrocarbon recovery issues inducing operators to continually seek ways to overcome these natural effects. They look, with their subcontracted service companies, for cost effective techniques and technologies able to increase production and oil recovery.