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How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional Oil?

General discussions of the systemic, societal and civilisational effects of depletion.

How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional Oil?

Unread postby mmasters » Tue 21 Nov 2017, 23:45:25

Curious to know how mature is the technology being used on shale and other unconventional plays. Will we see further advancement in this sector open up more oil at a lower cost? Or has the technology in this area already matured?
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Re: How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional

Unread postby Plantagenet » Wed 22 Nov 2017, 12:33:31

mmasters wrote:Curious to know how mature is the technology being used on shale and other unconventional plays. Will we see further advancement in this sector open up more oil at a lower cost? Or has the technology in this area already matured?


Most changes are small, and involves progressive, incremental changes in the way the drilling and fracking is done, rather then any new technology. For instance, most companies are now drilling longer horizontal wells and then using bigger more powerful pumps to do bigger fracks with more sand then in the past. That results in a bigger zone of fracked shale around the well and more production and better ROI.

Another slight change is drilling two or more long horizontal wells, one just above the other, and then fracking both of them. This is called "stacked fracking" and results in a bigger zone of fractured rock and again results in more oil production and better ROI.

A similar new technique is called "stacked laterals, and involves drilling two or three or even more wells side by side, and then fracking all of them. Again, this results in a bigger zone of fractured rock and again results in more oil production and better ROI.

And, of course, sometimes they combine stacked laterals and stacked fracking at one drill site. The idea is to get all the oil out of the shale and not leave any "unfracked" zones behind.

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Re: How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Wed 22 Nov 2017, 12:39:01

As with most things in the oil industry the technology and implementation of it will change continuously. There are always tweaks to drilling bits, drilling fluids, logging etc that can make the operation more cost efficient. One of the big initiatives being worked on now is EOR for shales. Current recovery factor in the tight shalely reservoirs is well below 10% which leaves a pretty juicy target for enhanced recovery.
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Re: How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional

Unread postby coffeeguyzz » Thu 23 Nov 2017, 12:38:35

I do not know if the term mature is especially appropriate as the dynamic nature continues apace in the drilling, fracturing, recovery and ancillary (think water, associated gas, etc.) aspects related to this so called Shale Revolution.
It is becoming routine to drill over a mile a day within a 5 to 10 foot target zone.
Eclipse just drilled the longest lateral ever - 20,800 feet - and the spud to TD took 13 days in one run.
The recent introduction of ultra tiny (200/400 mesh) micro proppants is enabling a potential ten fold increase in the size of the Stimulated Reservoir Volume - SRV - as the hydraulically- induced fissures can now be propped at this scale.
Most recently, more operators are restricting the choke dramatically, compared to earlier years, and the hydrocarbon flow has jumped along with much of the retained frac fluid which observers speculate is maintaining an elevated, induced pressure driving hydrocarbons to the wellbore.
As doc said, the EOR efforts are barely getting underway.
The diversionary products and processes which arose about 3 years ago may play a significant role in directing agents to underestimulated areas.

This entire industry continues to adapt and evolve at blinding speed.
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Re: How Mature is the Technology used to get Unconventional

Unread postby AdamB » Thu 23 Nov 2017, 15:02:10

mmasters wrote:Curious to know how mature is the technology being used on shale and other unconventional plays. Will we see further advancement in this sector open up more oil at a lower cost? Or has the technology in this area already matured?


A macro-economist defines "technology" in quite a wide swath. To which might you be referring?
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