The Western Desert of Egypt is a mature hydrocarbon province that has been producing oil and gas for the past 60 years. With the vast majority of the oilfields in decline, almost all wells require hydraulic fracture stimulation to produce economically. This paper describes the application for the first time of a novel channel-fracturing technique combined with rod-shaped proppant in selected production targets in the Cretaceous-aged Abu Roash and Upper Bahariya formations in the El-Fayoum concession in the Egyptian Western Desert. The channel fracturing technique introduces channels within the proppant pack that increase conductivity and effective half-length leading to increased production (Gillard et al. 2010). Rod-shaped proppant when used as tail-in in fracturing treatments increases near-wellbore fracture conductivity and prevents proppant flowback due to its particular geometry (McDaniel et al. 2010).
Many sedimentary features of hydrocarbons in the Western Desert in Egypt are characterized as multi-layered, deltaic, thinly and tightly laminated sandstones consisting of sands with limited lateral and vertical extension with an average permeability of 1 mD and Young's modulus in the order of 2.6 million psi. Historical challenges in the field using conventional hydraulic fracturing have included a premature screen-out rate greater than 45% and subsequently, proppant flowback issues.
A campaign of 4 wells was conducted in the Silah field in the El-Fayoum concession for comparison against 7 offset wells fractured with conventional techniques. With the application of the channel fracturing technique, the screen-out rate of fracturing treatments was reduced to zero, thus eliminating the cost of additional workover rig time or coil tubing cleanup time, and in most cases, the loss of a potentially productive zone. Further, the application of rod-shaped proppant has eliminated proppant flowback. The positive results from implementation of this combined stimulation technique have led to a vigorous expansion of its utilization throughout Egypt's Western Desert area.