19-07-2014

Optimising hydraulic fracturing

BACKGROUND
Stimulation of gas flow by hydraulic fracturing or ‘fraccing’ is key to successful production of tough gas. 
The most important challenge is to optimise the design of frac jobs in order to maximise production is achieved with a minimum number of wells and stimulation (i.e. minimum footprint). In the US, shale gas and coalbed methane are often developed by extensive fraccing along a large number of wells. 
In Europe, this scenario is not feasible considering the population density, drilling costs, and different geological settings compared to the US. Therefore the development of shale gas and coalbed methane plays needs to be optimised regarding the geological, socialgeographical and economic constraints that are specific for Europe.

CHALLENGES

  1. Propagation and containment of hydraulic fractures and potential leakage risks.
  2. Reactivation of existing large-scale faults and potential risks of induced seismicity.
  3. Measuring the efficiency of frac jobs 
    in gas shales and coals in the 
    Netherlands.

R&D OBJECTIVES

  1. The injection of (reactive) nanoparticles to probe in situ reservoir conditions using back-produced particles as well as support stimulation by mixing them with fraccing fluids.
  2. Development of optimum fraccing fluids by tailoring fluid properties (e.g., viscosity),
  3. Develop monitoring strategies for (micro-)seismic monitoring or tilt mapping (on surface or in offset wells or sidetracks).

The unique combination of geomechanical modeling and seismic monitoring can be used to validate and improve predictions of fracture network development, and provide clear-cut criteria indicating when risk mitigation measures are required.

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