Microproppants Deliver Macro Returns
DEEPROP supercharges production uplift and extends a well’s life
in complex plays providing an immediate ROI.
This paper introduces Deeprop® 1000, a small, strong microproppant that extends shale well production and reduces decline rates by targeting a shale reservoir’s secondary fracture network. Deeprop® 1000 is proven to deliver significant benefits to shale operations by:
Propping open narrow secondary fractures that are too small for conventional proppants to extend the productive life of the well.
Flattening a well’s decline to recover more hydrocarbon on a longer timescale.
Lowering treating pressures to boost pump rates and prop open fractures deeper into the formation
Recovering the completion costs lost when conventional proppants, which cannot prop open a reservoir’s vast secondary fracture network, are used.
Paying for itself in as little as four months.
Deeprop® is proving its potential in ongoing field operations in major shale plays across the US, including the Barnett, Woodford SCOOP, Utica, and Permian Basin. Average uplift after 25 months is 40%, and test wells over 36 months have uplifts ranging from 10% to as high as 81%. And, operators recover their ROI in 4 months or less.
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Proppants, the large class of solid materials including sand and man-made ceramics, are critical to keeping induced hydraulic fractures open after a fracturing operation. And while nearly all fracing jobs would fail without conventional proppants, microproppants are very effective at maximizing production potential from secondary fracture systems.
Consider this: the production decline for shale wells is steep, with 60 to 70% of the initial production lost in the first year (Figure 1). Typically, this steep drop will continue for a couple of years before the wells experience a more gradual, steady-state decline for many years.
To boost production and ease the decline rate in shale wells, communication between the reservoir’s secondary fracture network and the wellbore is critical. However, conventional proppants are typically too large to enter narrow secondary fractures and keep them open for extended periods.
For the proppant to enter a fracture, the fracture width must typically be three times the mean particle size of proppant. Using this metric as a guide, Table 1 outlines the fracture aperture required to accept various proppant sizes. For a 100-mesh sand, the hydraulic fracture width needs to be wider than a half millimeter (or 0.02 inches) to accept the proppant. The table highlights another, more promising option for very small fracture apertures. The proppant known as Deeprop® 1000 is an order of magnitude smaller than conventional proppants, which opens up the potential for tapping into the production oil and gas trapped within the vast secondary fracture network of many shale wells.
Figure 1 – Typical production decline for a shale well.
Table 1 – Bridging size for various proppants (*Particle size measured by laser diffraction using a Mastersizer 2000).