For as long as we have been performing hydraulic fracturing, we have been trying to ensure that we stay out of undesirable horizons, potentially containing water and/or gas. The holy grail of hydraulic fracturing, an absolute control of created fracture height, has eluded the industry for more than 70 years. Of course, there have been many that have claimed solutions, but all the marketed approaches have at best merely created a delay to the inevitable growth and at worst been a snake-oil approach with little actual merit. Fundamentally, the applied techniques have attempted to delay or influence the underlying equations of net-pressure and stress variation; but having to ultimately honour them and by doing so then condemned themselves to limited success or outright failure.
Fast forward to 2020, and a reassessment of the relative importance of height-growth constraint and what may have changed to help us achieve this. The development of unconventionals are focused on creating as much surface area as possible in micro/nano-Darcy environments, across almost any phase, but with typically poor line of sight to profit. However, the more valuable business of conventional oil and gas is working in thinner and thinner reservoirs with an often-deteriorating permeability, but with a significantly higher potential economic return. What unconventional has successfully delivered however, is a rapid deployment and acceleration in a range of completion technologies that were unavailable just a few years ago. We will demonstrate that these technologies potentially offer the capability of finally being able to control fracture height-growth.
Consideration of a range of previously applied height-growth approaches will demonstrate how they attempted to fool or fudge height growth creation mechanisms. With this clarity, we can consider what advances in completion technology may offer in terms of delivering height growth control. We suggest that with the technology and approaches that are currently available today, that height-growth control is finally within reach. We will go on to describe a multi-well Pilot program, in deployment and execution in 2020/021 in Western Siberia; where billions of barrels remain to be recovered in thin oil-rim, low permeability sandstone reservoirs below gas or above water.
A comprehensive assessment of the myriad of height-growth approaches that have been utilized over the last 70 years was performed, but in each case demonstrated the fallibility and limitations of each of these. However, rather than the interpretation that such control is not achievable, instead we will show a mathematically sound approach, along with field data and evidence that this is possible. The presentation will demonstrate that completion advances over the last 10 - 15 years make this approach a reality in the present day; and that broader field implementation is finally within reach.