The Oilfield Technology Group of Hexion Specialty Chemicals has developed a new environmentally improved method for determining proppant location called the PropTrac H Fracture Diagnostics Service. This patent-pending technology allows operators to increase oil and gas production by optimizing their perforating and fracturing strategy.
The actual fracture geometry that occurs downhole can greatly affect the economic value of a well. Having a better understanding of downhole fracture dimensions allows operators to make more informed decisions and optimize well completion designs to enable the wells to produce to their full potential. An example of a relevant application is unconventional reservoirs such as tight gas and shales. A major technical challenge faced with these wells, especially multi-zone, is the correlation of the post frac production performance with both the reservoir’s properties and the completion procedure.
PropTrac H is an easier, safer, and more accurate method to optimize fracture treatments and improve results. The service uses Hexion’s resin coated proppants containing a proprietary non-radioactive tagging material in the coating. Once the well is fractured, these proppants are temporarily activated downhole with a specialized logging tool that identifies their location. Unlike conventional radioactive tracers, PropTrac H is no longer active by the time the tool is removed from the well.
PropTrac H provides the following benefits:
Compared to radioactive tracers, operators no longer have to contend with the same environmental hazards, safety issues, regulations, and paperwork – as well as the precautionary methods. PropTrac H can also be used repeatedly to log wells months, even years, later to determine what zones were actually fractured with the proppants. In addition, some operators are using PropTrac proppants as “insurance”. They are only logging the well if deemed necessary due to lower than expected post treatment production results. This feature provides a whole new set of post treatment options to operators that are especially beneficial during times of high commodity prices.
PropTrac H provides detailed information on zones where the proppant is located to help operators analyze their perforating and fracturing designs. As an example, PropTrac aids engineers in calibration of their frac design model with a “real-world” proppant distribution log. Additionally, logs are provided that show where operators can perforate additional zones to potentially increase well production. It also allows users to observe how proppant distribution in the fracture may be affected by changes in flowing pressure, flow rates, or fluid entry. PropTrac H can even provide additional data for analyzing changes in production rates (such as decreases) and help explain these changes, e.g., the proppant pack shifted in the fracture. Operators can also use this information to assist in analyzing refrac options during the well’s lifetime.
In combination with other well information, PropTrac H can provide operators with insight into where not to fracture. PropTrac H has indicated fracturing into zones producing large amounts of water and even contaminated water from possible radioactive zones. Completions and fracturing designs derived from PropTrac H information can help to reduce or prevent the production of such unwanted fluids. In addition, knowing fracture heights aids in perforating where hydrocarbons are inclined to accumulate above unwanted water, allowing operators to reach additional deposits. PropTrac H can assist fracture design engineers with improvements in future offset well completions by analyzing changes in perforating density, fracturing treatment rate, and fluid viscosity.
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