Abstract

Before the mid-1990s, the main goal of hydraulic-fracturing operations in Russia was preventing near wellbore damage. Typical fracturing treatments used a crosslinked polymer-based gel as carrier fluid to place 5 to 20 MT of proppant into the formation. Because of the results, a new phase started, whereby "real" production enhancement treatments achieving skins of well beyond -4 were pumped with proppant volumes from 50 to over 100 MT. Because of Russian oil production practices at the time, it became apparent that the hydraulic fracturing technology combined with drilling horizontal wells increased production and was therefore beneficial to the Russian economy.

When the optimization process started, quality control in the field became mandatory in addition to an enhanced focus on health, safety and environment. Service companies focused on cleaner fluids with less polymer loadings and better breaker systems. Prejob, on-the-job, and postjob quality control procedures were developed specifically for the Russian environment and reached a standard unlike anywhere else in the world. The number of unwanted screenouts was reduced significantly by following proper perforating practices and optimizing the treatments designs in real time. The new goal was a skin of -5, and the design process was optimized to achieve this number by designing each job to achieve optimum production for the given reservoir parameters, especially permeability. Treatments of 300–400 MT are not uncommon these days for low permeability reservoirs with a large reservoir height sometimes covering several zones.

This lead to the optimization process that is currently practiced. Because many sandstone reservoirs, particularly in Siberia, are laminated, the vertical permeability is often an order of magnitude or more lower than compared to the horizontal permeability. Several times, horizontal wells did not yield the expected results. Hydraulic fracturing treatments placed in the horizontal wellbore can be the solution for further production optimization. This paper describes how this can be established through several techniques.

Hydraulic fracturing includes propped hydraulic fracturing in both oil and gas reservoirs, as well as carbonate fracture acidizing. This paper discusses propped hydraulic fracturing in oil reservoirs. Covering propped hydraulic fracturing in gas reservoirs, although still at the beginning stages, could reveal enough material for a paper on its own. However, carbonate fracture acidizing is not frequently used.

Introduction

In 2009, the oil and gas industry will celebrate 60 years of hydraulic fracturing. In March, 1949, a team of Halliburton Oil Well Cementing Company and Stanolind Oil Company personnel gathered at a wellsite near Duncan, Oklahoma, U.S.A., to make oilfield history by performing the first commercial hydraulic-fracturing treatment (Fig. 1). Tens of thousands of wells have been treated using this technology and several improvements have been made since in the Western world.

Exploration for oil was active in the former Soviet Union in the 1840s in the vicinity of Baku (the first modern oil well was drilled in 1846 by Russian engineer F.N. Semyenov) in the Caspian and was revived significantly after World War II. Soviet explorers were able to apply scientific methods free of commercial constraints. Boreholes were drilled for geological information and Russian explorers pioneered the geochemical breakthrough that identified the source rocks and generating belts.

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