Community Consensus: Why the Fracturing Craze?
- Darcy Spady (2018 SPE President)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 10 - 11
- 2018. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Moving technology at the same speed as economics.
Did you know that fracturing is not permitted in parts of the Middle East? And it has been that way for a long time. Hydraulic fracturing is not a global norm, although with the rise of unconventional resources, some jurisdictions are rewriting the legislation to allow fracturing.
I have watched hydraulic fracturing grow from the workover option of stimulating an old well and reducing the skin factor to the current state of being part of every field’s development from the new well construction stage. What I fear is that sometimes as technical people we have been guilty of “photocopy engineering.” We are all about efficiency, so if it worked once, it should work the same for the next 1,000 times. Right?
Fracturing has become all about repetition and iteration. It may not be the best option.
Now in all fairness, before some of you slam shut this magazine and tear up your SPE membership card, let me give a few disclaimers. First, I have spent about half of my career performing fracturing treatments on location and designing, selling, and paying for fracs through the authority for expenditure (AFE) process. In fact, in the 1990s when I was the engineer in charge of the data van during treatments, we had the best and freshest coffee on location.
Second, our industry is what it is today—and a large amount of hydrocarbon is being consumed on a global scale—because of the incredible technological gains developed in fracturing. Third, I have been featured and vilified as the bad guy on anti-fracking websites, and it does not feel very good. Fourth, it is incredibly satisfying to witness a pure economic driver such as new production from old fields cause the commodity markets to wobble and thus rewrite the norm. The story of my colleagues and me at Triana Energy in the Appalachians is even featured in Chapter 9 of the bestseller by Gregory Zuckerman, The Frackers.
Having now stated that I am part of the “they,” meaning those who help to develop and utilize hydraulic fracturing, including writing paper SPE 57435 about multizone stimulation using coiled tubing, I will get off my soapbox and make my point.
Over the last few months, two stories got my attention. My local paper had a headline from Bloomberg reading “All that new shale oil may not be enough as big discoveries drop.” And, over the holiday season, Weatherford announced the sale of its OneStim joint venture to Schlumberger. The moving and shaking in the North American fracturing market always makes me ponder the bigger picture, and these two articles made me think a little. Having been involved in fracturing and the unconventional high-efficiency plays for over half of my career, I tend to watch that space very carefully. It is part of a world that I understand well.
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