Refracking could significantly increase production from older wells
Extensive data mining and analysis of 20,000 shale gas wells has revealed how "refracturing" existing wells with new technology could transform them from diminished producers into high-performers long after their initial peak production period has ended.This appears to be another way shale producers can become more efficient and competitive. that has been a hallmark of shale producers from the beginning and the predatory pricing scheme attempted by OPEC only made them more efficient.
"Our analysis could potentially aid in reducing the number of new wells to be drilled," said Richard Middleton, lead author of the study by a team of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists. "In addition, through better fracturing techniques and alternative working fluids such as supercritical carbon dioxide, we see ways to both increase shale gas recovery and minimize environmental impacts through carbon sequestration," he said.
"We hypothesize that manipulating tail production could re-revolutionize shale gas extraction," he said. Shale gas production through hydraulic fracturing is characterized by substantial gas production in the first few months to a year, but the production exponentially declines after only a month or two. Tail production starts about 12 months after this initial exponential decline. "Hydraulic fracturing research has largely focused on the initial 12-month production, since an operator will break even and make a profit from this 'exponential' production. However, in the paper, we try to emphasize the importance and value of this long-term, tail production," Middleton said.
The data mining analysis revealed that "refracturing" existing wells with new technology can transform them into high-performing wells with the production characteristics of a newly drilled site. The paper in Applied Energy notes that this observation has profound implications in the potential revitalization of the hundreds of thousands of shale gas wells across the United States.