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High costs are preventing operators from widely adapting to real-time data acquisition while fracturing horizontal wells. Common thought in the industry is that without downhole measurement, operators are fracturing blindly. Many believe measurements at the well-bore interface are needed to correctly understand what is happening during fracturing.
"Everyone would like real-time data; however, there are issues with obtaining this," said John Ely, president of Ely and Associates, a hydraulic fracturing analysis and consulting company.
Today, the downhole pressure values during fracturing operations are calculated using published friction data that are determined using smooth-wall pipe. Therefore, calculating downhole pressures by applying friction data to surface pressure is an inaccurate process.
"The pressure that you see is not only a function of what is going on in the well but also a function of pipe condition; friction; and function of density, rate, and varying fluid qualities throughout the job," Ely said.
Fracturing blindly produces viable wells even without correct data. But the wells are not being optimized to their full production potential.
SmartFrac is a new data acquisition platform where memory pressure and temperature data acquisition tools (DATs) are run inside fracturing plugs to measure pressure and temperature. Industry-proven Omega memory gauges are the pressure-temperature DATs employed within the SmartFrac plugs. The data gathered will help optimize well production and allow engineers to do a better job evaluating and planning the fracturing of their wells. Successful well production can equate to increased financial success.
The new SmartFrac tool is part of Omega Well Monitoring, a designer, manufacturer, and worldwide supplier of a comprehensive range of rugged products and services to many of the leading players in the international energy industry. Omega specializes in well monitoring, including surface logging, memory logging, production logging, electric submersible pump monitoring, permanent well monitoring, and fracturing monitoring.
SmartFrac is a simple tool that will provide fracturing engineers with the data needed in designing and implementing fracs.
SmartFrac uses standard fracturing plugs that are conveyed into the hole during normal pump-down operations. The plug deployment does not add to operating time, and the DATs are recovered during plug drill-out.
Three things were considered when developing this tool. The plug and perf method of separating and perforating zones in a horizontal well could not be changed. The tool would have to provide data that service companies need to optimize their wells. The system also had to be affordable.
A DAT is installed in the center of the plug, which collects the pressure and temperature data. The DATs are retrieved after the operation in a catcher barrel during the milling of the plugs. The data are then uploaded to a USB outlet on a computer to view the measurements.
To avoid blind fracturing, this tool provides a necessary low-cost option for obtaining data to optimize field development.
A clear and reliable recording of a horizontal well's fracturing operations can be obtained through the pressure and temperature data gathered without the high price tag before, during, and after each fracturing stage operation. The SmartFrac tool costs considerably less than other options, and the DATs can be reconditioned and reused on other wells.
SmartFrac provides knowledge of where the fracturing fluid is going and helps engineers make better decisions for future field development. Engineers can review the trends of the data they collect and make informed adjustments to the fracing programs prior to fracturing nearby wells.
This will change the way oil and gas wells are evaluated and fractured. The tool will gather accurate temperature and pressure measurements at each stage by obtaining accurate breakdown pressures, observing cross-communication of different stages, and optimizing future fracturing and development programs.
"The industry has a definite need for these data," Ely said. "I think this is a worthwhile tool. SmartFrac may not give you real-time data, but it can give you real data, which makes this product unique to our industry."