This final report summarizes outcomes for the project Proppant Surface Treatment and Well Stimulation for Tight Oil and Shale Gas Development undertaken by PTAC Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) in collaboration with 3M Canada and two senior oil and gas companies in Western Canada, from September 25, 2015 to March 31, 2016. The project evaluated 2 new technologies for production of shale gas and tight oil using hydraulic fracturing. Despite being a successful production technology, hydraulic fracturing has raised concerns about environmental impact. In addition, the sustainability of current production methods has been in question particularly with respect to the rate of recovery, the rate of production decline and high costs.
The new Proppant Surface Treatment (PST) and Well Stimulation (WS) technologies investigated in this project offer the opportunity to improve the sustainability of production and to reduce the intensity of environmental impacts. PST and WS are based on a chemical treatment developed by 3M Canada that modifies the surface of sand to make it neutral wet, reducing surface tension and causing liquids, such as oil, condensate and water, not to cling to sand surfaces, and instead to flow more easily. In PST, ordinary sand proppant is replaced by treated sand and the completion program is otherwise unchanged. In WS, the wellbore and the fractures themselves are treated in a remedial operation applied to an existing well to remove accumulations of liquids in the fractures that would impede the flow of hydrocarbons. PST and WS increase the efficiency of hydrocarbon extraction. Therefore, water consumption intensity is reduced because more hydrocarbons are produced from the original water injection volume. There is no water directly required to implement the PST or WS technologies.
The objectives of the project were (1) to understand challenges and opportunities in the Duvernay Play, (2) to understand challenges and opportunities in the Bakken Play, (3) to perform a proof of concept well test of the WS technology in Western Canada, (4) to analyse the performance of PST trials in Western Canada, and (5) final reporting and dissemination of outcomes. The project met all objectives and delivered the following achievements:
- The Duvernay Play was analysed and summarized for stakeholders; technology needs and opportunities were identified.
- The Bakken Play was analysed and summarized.
- The field demonstration of the WS technology successfully took place in a well operated by a Canadian oil and gas company and the results were analysed.
- The field demonstration of the PST technology by a second oil and gas company in Western Canada was analysed.
- The analysis of the WS and PST field trials were performed by 2 subject matter experts and concluded that the technologies resulted in increased condensate production which is beneficial from the point of view of economics and the environment. The results were disseminated in presentations at a PTAC workshop.
The benefits of the project were (1) the identification of technology opportunities for hydraulic fracturing in Western Canada, (2) the demonstration that the WS and PST technologies could be effectively implemented in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, and (3) that both PST and WS resulted in higher condensate production which will improve production economics and lower the intensity of environmental impact.
The next application of the PST and WS technologies is recommended to be in unsaturated gas condensate or oil reservoirs.