Abstract

Conventional hydrocarbon reservoirs are being depleted, and the demand for energy grows as the world’s population progresses. Unconventional reservoirs are playing an increasingly important role in today’s effort to meet these growing demands. Two common forms of unconventional resources are the extraction of heavy oil or oil sands and the hydraulic fracturing of tight, hydrocarbon-bearing shale. Hydraulic fracturing is a technique made popular by the results yielded in the Barnett Shale basin in 1998. Of these two, hydraulic fracturing is more commonly used due to production economics. Over the last 15 years a significant effort has been made to increase the efficiency of this process. A common method of hydraulic fracturing is using a tripping ball and ball seat system. This system leads to a reduction in flow area. In addition, tripping balls can produce significant production risks. The production risks include lost production time if a stuck ball requires the well to be worked over. Lost flow area can be detrimental if the tripping ball remains in the lateral. A new smart-engineered composite has been developed to significantly optimize this process and provide flow assurance after the hydraulic fracture treatment. High-strength corrodible material (HSCM) is a metallic composite. HSCM is designed for the ball-actuated system used during hydraulic fracturing. This paper will explore the development and reliability of this new technology, and discuss development of a new interventionless ball seat system.

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