Refracking Service Could Create 'Boom of a Boom' in Shale Recovery

The results of Halliburton’s ACTIVATE refracturing service pilot projects has company officials bullish on refracking’s potential for North American unconventional oil and natural gas wells.

Since the U.S. shale revolution began, oil and gas operators have sought to enhance recovery from these wells and address the early steep declines seen in unconventional wells. Despite an increased number of stages, more proppant, longer fracs, closer well spacing and other strategies, operators have only been recovering between four and eight percent of unconventional resources in North American plays.

Halliburton’s monitoring of new wells with fiber optics and microseismic technology also found that new well completions had less than 60 percent cluster efficiency and fracs of unequal length and width, meaning not all oil and gas reserves are being recovered.

“In the past four years, 75,000 land wells have been drilled in North America,” said Priyesh Ranjan, senior manager of business development with Halliburton, in a media briefing earlier this week in Houston. “The industry’s philosophy over the past seven to eight years has been to go after new acreage.”

Today, companies are revisiting existing acreage and drilling infill wells to recover bypassed reserves to maintain production rates. However, Ranjan noted that drilling these new wells actually have a higher cost per barrel of oil equivalent than parent wells, and oftentimes, produce less. Return on investment predictability also is lower for new wells, when production from a new well bashes into that from an existing well, negatively impacting production.

Refracking has become a hot topic of industry discussion as operators seek ways to cut costs and boost production output. Previous refracturing technologies were not effective, meaning that refracking results were unpredictable and not repeatable, like the odds of gambling in Las Vegas, said Ranjan.

Refracturing seeks to reconnect existing fractures disconnected from the wellbore, and creating new fractures. The combination of the two provides the incremental estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) boost, said Ranjan. Given the amount of resources that have been left behind, Halliburton sees great potential for its service.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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