Baker Hughes has launched DEEPFRAC™, a first-of-its-kind deepwater fracturing service.
This year’s Offshore Technology Conference saw Baker Hughes unveil its latest innovation for the deepwater market.
DEEPFRAC™ is a deepwater multistage fracturing service, which the company says can save hundreds of millions of dollars in offshore developments through efficiency gains in the completion phase. The company believes that it is the first and only firm to have deployed a ball-activated multistage fracturing sleeve system in an openhole deepwater application.
Although stimulation systems can unlock barrels of extra value from deepwater reservoirs, the payback may be hindered by the month-long wait to case and cement the well, displace mud to brine, and run lower and upper completions. More stages may increase this interval, and even with the luxury of time, conventional offshore stimulation systems are often limited to only five frac zones or stages. All in all, these complex systems lack flexibility, and an uneven treatment can create long sections of dead space, missing out hundreds of metres of viable pay.
DEEPFRAC is aimed at speeding up completion time dramatically, while increasing the amount of reservoir contact.
Modular momentum The system uses flexible, ball-activated multi-position sleeves that can be installed in openhole wellbores containing drilling mud – technology which has previously been refined in the onshore unconventional market. Baker Hughes’ VP of completions, Jim Sessions, noted: “By adapting some of the technologies and techniques that delivered game-changing efficiencies in unconventional land to an offshore service, we’ve enabled a new level of deepwater completion design flexibility and streamlined operations.”
Without the requirement for casing and cementing operations the system can be installed much faster than a conventional stimulation package.
Modular assembly also allows for rapid stimulation of 20 or more tightly spaced stages – rather than the five expected from a typical system – which helps deliver more uniform stimulation. According to the company, these stages can be placed as close as 3.9m apart, helping to target areas of maximum pay.
The DEEPFRAC sleeves have three positions: closed for run-in, frac ports open for treatment delivery, and frac ports closed with production ports open for flowback. No tool movement is required during the process. Instead, Baker Hughes’ IN-Tallic™ frac balls are used to shift the sleeve and then disintegrate downhole, enabling intervention-free production. The ball activation enables continuous pumping throughout the stages, cutting the lower completion phase from weeks to days.
Another of the company’s technologies – BeadScreen™ proppant flowback control – is built directly into the DEEPFRAC sleeve’s production ports. The company says this offers greater reliability than conventional sand screens, and in some operations eliminated the surface flow tests that would have been required if these screens had been used. In that job, this saved an estimated two and a half days in completion time.
In practice, Baker Hughes says the system can deliver average OPEX savings of US$30-40 million per well – not counting the additional oil produced from the targeted stimulation sites.
On a recent 15-stage deepwater completion in the Gulf of Mexico’s Lower Tertiary, the DEEPFRAC service saved the operator an estimated 25 days rig time and US$40 million compared with a conventional cased-hole multizone option.
If such savings can be replicated across additional wells, it should be little wonder that the deepwater market is heating up.