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GTI plans second Permian Basin field test site to maximize hydraulic fracturing efficiency and increase production

GTI (Gas Technology Institue) is leading a high-profile program on Hydraulic Fracturing Test Sites (HFTS) in the Permian Basin, bringing together government and industry to improve recovery, continue enhancing environmentally responsible methods of optimizing production, and lowering costs in the Midland and Delaware Basins.

In January 2018, GTI was awarded funding from the US Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL) for cost-shared research and development on hydraulic fracturing efficiency. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (Anadarko) and Shell Exploration and Production Company (Shell) plan to co-host a new field test site in the Delaware Basin, where multiple experiments to evaluate well completion, optimize design, and quantify environmental impact will be carried out.

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Work will commence in late 2018 at an Anadarko-operated location, and other industry partners are invited to join the project.

The new HFTS2–Delaware field test site located in Block 55 T1, Loving County, Texas will feature different depth, pressures, and permeability than the site of GTI’s first collaborative project, HFTS1–Midland. Each location requires specific techniques for optimal production based on local geologic complexity.

The Permian Basin in West Texas is considered one of the largest hydrocarbon resources in the world, covering 86,000 square miles and encompassing 52 counties in New Mexico and Texas.

An increase in shale production from the Permian alone could set the US on a very plausible path toward fossil-based energy security. Current oil production is approximately 2.4 million barrels per day, and projections suggest that this could more than double over the next seven to 10 years. Natural gas production in the Permian Basin is likely to triple by 2020 from its 2010 level.

This new work will build off HFTS1–Midland, which was also supported by DOE/NETL, along with cofunding from operators and service companies. Laredo Petroleum, Inc. hosted the test site and provided critical geological and reservoir data from many wells in the area.

In September 2015, 400+ fracture stages were completed in 11 Laredo wells in the Wolfcamp formation of the Midland portion of the Permian Basin. A first-of-a-kind through-fracture core sample was produced to document the physical properties of the fractures.

Along with comprehensive data, it provided insight on how induced underground fractures spread, which is being used to assess the performance of individual fracture stages. It is the most meaningful data set to date for unconventional oil and gas production, providing ground truth evidence paramount to understanding fractures, validating and developing models, and assessing how predictive analytics can improve the process.

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