To maximize the stimulated fracture network while still using low-viscosity, water-based fracturing fluids, Baker Hughes developed its Ascent fracturing service. The service combines advanced modeling and specialized pumping techniques to effectively place strong, ultralightweight proppants above the depth of the lateral. The extremely strong, “buoyant” proppants replace a portion of the sand during the stimulation treatment to ensure that more of the fracture’s high side remains open following fracture closure. Because they are nearly the same density as the fluid, the ultralightweight proppants will not fall to the bottom of the fracture, greatly expanding the conductive fracture area and significantly increasing the effectiveness of the stimulation. As an added benefit, overall proppant and water volumes, along with the related transportation and pumping costs, are reduced. To determine the best treatment design, offset-well data are used to evaluate the increase in conductive fracture area that can be expected by treating the new well with the optimized service. In a 19-well, 36-month study in the Barnett shale, Ascent enabled an operator to increase hydrocarbon recovery by 117% over the average of the conventionally treated wells of similar depth and length within a 2-mile radius. Proppant volumes were lowered, and water usage decreased by 20%.
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