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New technology could recover more oil from early Bakken wells


Oil companies are applying new hydraulic fracturing techniques to early Bakken wells, a process industry leaders say has the potential to recover more oil without increasing the footprint on the land.

Operators are targeting wells drilled between 2008 and 2010, the early years of Bakken development before fracking technology advanced to where it is today.

Companies are refracturing the older wells using today’s technology and getting promising results, said Justin Kringstad, director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, who recently analyzed the wells.

“On average, they’re getting better performance from the wells,” Kringstad said.

Fracking — or pumping a high-pressure mixture of water, sand and chemicals deep underground — and horizontal drilling techniques allowed operators to recover oil from the Bakken.

But the industry believes it’s only recovering about 5 to 15 percent of the oil available, Kringstad said.

More than 140 wells in the Bakken have been refractured, and most saw an increase in oil production from 200,000 to 250,000 barrels, according to Kringstad’s analysis.

The newly fracked wells are injected with larger volumes of fluid and sand and the fracture treatments are applied to smaller segments of the well, he said.

North Dakota legislators also are interested in the potential for refracturing existing oil wells and are planning a study during the interim focused on the fiscal impact to the state.

Sen. Kelly Armstrong, R-Dickinson, said recovering more oil would mean more tax revenue and more jobs.

Armstrong, one of the legislators who introduced the study, said legislators plan to invite experts to learn more about refracturing and discuss if there are economic incentives the state could consider.

“We are only getting a small, small amount of the total potential reserve down there,” Armstrong said. “Everybody would benefit if we could figure out a way to recover more.”

Monte Besler, a Williston oilfield consultant known as the FRACN8R, said not all wells will be good candidates for refracturing. But it can pay off in wells that were completed with technology now considered outdated, he said.

Kringstad said companies will typically want to see at least an additional 200,000 barrels of oil to justify the investment.

Lynn Helms, director of the Department of Mineral Resources, said refracturing oil wells can recover more oil without expanding the footprint of the Bakken.

“There’s no additional environmental impacts and there’s generally already a pipeline there,” Helms said.

Kringstad also is studying the impact refracturing could have on the pipeline industry and working to provide oil and natural gas pipeline operators data to help them plan.

Bismarck Tribune

13 Comments on "New technology could recover more oil from early Bakken wells"

  1. rockman on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 5:55 am 

    The refrac’ng existing wells is a decades old idea. Refrac’ng of hz wells completed in a shale began about 10 years ago in the Barnett Shale. Simple idea: early wells had just several frac stages 500′ to 1,000′ apart. Today 36 to 84 frac stages 100′ apart is not uncommon. But there are mechanical reasons why not all wells are good candidates.

    And companies would benefit from any tax benefits the state offers: though decreased competition has brought the per stage cost down pumping 36+ frac stages is not cheap and not guaranteed to produce the results they just tossed around.

  2. Anonymous on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 6:17 am 

    ND could do a little more to make taxes lighter. Not that competitive now. Also the bait and switch with the big trigger shows government can’t be planned for.

  3. bobinget on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 12:18 pm 

    Something tells me: There will ALWAYS be another “new” technology.

    As rockman well knows, each ‘new’ tech just tweaks a slightly older one.
    What this little article tells us:
    ‘We are having a tough time drilling new, cause fresh funding isn’t available’.

    My thoughts, below cost of production oil pricing
    made drillers more inventive. (not only in US but all-over)

  4. tony nestor on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 1:31 pm 

    New technologies in oil fields and or wells have been going on since the first oil wells were drilled in Northwest Pennsylvania. The first fracking was done with simple explosives. I have been hearing since I was a kid that we are running out of oil….I no longer believe it. Technology, through good old America ingenuity will save us.

  5. bobinget on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 2:36 pm 

    Of course Tony is right, ‘there will always be oil’.
    At the point of no profit, we simply stop looking.

    I keep hearing, at present, there is no replacement,
    especially for liquid fuels. Quite true.

    What if? What if ‘liquid fuels’ were no longer at issue?
    Electric trains & electric trolleys were in use before anyone here were born.
    Electric cars and trucks, already in use.

    Electric aircraft just a few years down the line.
    (you will say batteries weigh too much)

    A plane like a Boeing 747 uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second. Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). According to Boeing’s Web site, the 747 burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).

    IMO: just like the first mass produced e. cars were hybrids, then came plug-ins so it will be with airliners. Jet fuel for take-offs batteries for cruising.

    BTW, early semis, long distance buses are hybrids.

    As for marine traffic, electric propulsion has been a fact for one hundred years. (Diesel, coal, nuclear,

    I’ll bet we see robotic, solar/wind, electrical powered shipping by 2020.

    Sooner the better too. Look closely. Most wars are over oil, not religion or land.

  6. Davy on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 2:50 pm 

    Yea, sure bob, jet fuel for takeoffs and batteries for cruising. Are we going to have two sets of engines? Sounds awful heavy to me: You are looking goofy with your battery powered flights fantasy. Maybe you should try to stick to the car industry with your optimism marketing. The EV car industry needs all the help it can get.

  7. ALCIADA-MOLE on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 4:56 pm 

    Hello dear
    It looks like spring mating season is on full swing.
    People would be openly hostile to me IRL for reasons unknown to me.

    I therefore will be a avoiding people for two months. Please enjoy this video

    And as standard custom I’m including Hitchens×315/74/9f/a2/749fa20ab683fe7fd11c3a5f7997c03f.jpg

  8. Anonymouse on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 5:06 pm 

    So, taking a break from trolling eh ‘mole’? Im sure your goofy troll-baiting and all the other random nonsense you post will be sorely missed.

    Dont hurry back, really.

  9. onlooker on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 5:34 pm 

    Yeah good riddance undercover whatever

  10. aldbeir on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 6:07 pm 

    some of the early bakken wells were fraced without a liner in the horizontal leg. needless to say they didn’t produce well. so they tried refracing. the problem as they used the same amount of water when refracing. then those fracs weren’t much took longer to rig up the iron than to pump the job. so some of those could do better if they could run a liner and stage frac them..but right now crew shortages will hold up too much work.

  11. aldbeir on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 6:24 pm 

    i worked on the first bakken well one company did . ran a liner on tubing needless to say we couldn’t push it to bottom. no push pipe just tubing weight. left it a few hundred feet from bottom . it just had hollow plugs ran a bit and knocked the plugs out. circulated the hole stood the tubing back and fraced it right there.after the frac. wirelined a plugged packer. ran the tubing spaced out treed up pumped out the plug. on production well sort of. that one they refraced flowed back 60 bbls after the second frac.

  12. deadlykillerbeaz on Mon, 12th Jun 2017 7:46 pm 

    The Bakken Formation is estimated to have 500 billion to 900 billion barrels of ooip.

    A three percent recovery is 15 billion barrels minimum, 27 billion maximum.

    BAKKEN 1,590,525,938 46.9581 10,930

    Almost 1.6 billion barrels total so far, another 14 billion to go, minimum. 46 percent of total cumulative production.

    Click on cumulative production by formation.

    Probably is a good estimate if you rely upon the geology.

    The Bakken will produce oil until the cows come home.

    Whether or not it is profitable doesn’t matter, the oil is there, it will be de!livered to market as long as there are buyers of Bakken oil.

  13. Anonymous on Tue, 13th Jun 2017 3:01 pm 

    “Whether or not it is profitable doesn’t matter, the oil is there, it will be de!livered to market as long as there are buyers of Bakken oil.”

    It does matter if it is profitable. Rigs dropped from 180 to 30 when prices crashed. They are back up to 50 because of a moderate price recovery. Drillers are rational. There are projects that work at $100 that will never get drilled at $50. And even more that won’t get drilled at $30.

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