Refrac'ing: Embracing a multi-disciplinary approach for improved well performance

By Sudhendu Kashikar
VP, Completions Evaluation

Refrac’ing – simple enough in concept, and a good bargain to boot.  But, just like frac’ing a well, not all re-fracs are created equal.  The treatment and the returns (incremental production) can vary dramatically.   So like most good deals, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is! 

That’s not to say that refrac’ing does not provide real opportunities to yield a high return on the investment.  Significant progress is being made in understanding the various aspects of candidate well selection and job design to ensure an optimal refrac.  Quantifying the resulting incremental EUR remains challenging but is certainly feasible. Experience has shown that refracs in general provide significant boosts in production rates and ultimate recovery, often reaching rates achieved through the original frac.

Also, it is not unusual for a refrac to be an order of magnitude less expensive than the alternative of drilling and completing a new well.

All of this raises several questions: Could we have designed and frac’ed the original well better? Wouldn’t it be better if we could perform the stimulation much more effectively the first time?  Isn’t there a better way to design the original completion and hydraulic fracturing program that will yield higher and sustainable long-term production – thus reducing the need for refrac?    Can we improve the design of the original completion with refracs in mind?

There is no doubt in my mind that the answer to all is an unqualified YES, but will require an interdisciplinary approach to design, execute and analyze the completion performance.   We need better data collection during the drilling and completion phases.  Data that will help us improve our understanding of the nuances and interconnections between the geology, stress, well placement, completion hardware and hydraulic treatment parameters. Current practices do not enable such data collection and integration. As an industry we have convinced ourselves that unconventional wells are statistical in nature, and that we need to operate in “factory mode” to improve drilling and completion efficiencies.  We have routinely sacrificed data collection in favor of perceived monetary efficiency.  When data is collected, it is often done on different wells or pads.  Sometimes we have the production log on one well, fiber optic data on a different well, and microseismic data on yet another well.  While we can show significant reduction in cost and time required to drill and complete wells, it has come at a steep price.  The limited or often non-existing data hinders our ability to make forward looking changes to effect well performance and NPV.  The cookie cutter “factory mode” approach inherently limits our ability to engineer the designs and make adjustments to improve the performance of each and every well. 

Yet the technology is out there that enables just such data integration and completions evaluation in Real Time!

At MicroSeismic we are continuing to develop new methodologies to enable an interdisciplinary approach to improve well performance.  We are working closely with reservoir engineers, geomechancis experts, geologists, geophysicists, and frac design engineers to enable operators in making a improvements in their well performance.  We are building calibrated 3-D geomechanical and reservoir models, developing techniques to understand and quantify the permeability enhancement with PermIndex™, undertaking advanced geomechanical simulations, and developing methods to quantify and compare frac performance with FracRx™.  We have embraced the interdisciplinary approach to understanding hydraulic fracture performance and are working closely with our customers to help them achieve significant improvements in performance.