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SPE-179113-MS

Understanding the Applicability and Economic Viability of Refracturing


Horizontal Wells in Unconventional Plays
G. J. Lindsay, D. J. White, G. A. Miller, J. D. Baihly, and B. Sinosic, Schlumberger

Copyright 2016, Society of Petroleum Engineers

This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference held in The Woodlands, Texas, USA, 9 11 February 2016.

This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents
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consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may
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Abstract
Oil prices have fallen to lows not seen in years. These low oil prices and sustained low gas prices have
drastically reduced the number of new wells being drilled in US unconventional plays as oversupply from
these plays has reached an all-time high in US storage levels. One alternative to drilling new wells is to
hydraulically refracture older wells to enhance production and gain additional economic returns. With
each successful refracturing operation, service companies are improving on methods to divert refracturing
fluid and proppant without the use of mechanical diversion techniques. To ensure success and meet
economic hurdles, refracturing requires thorough preparation, proper candidate selection, and effective
diversion techniques.
The authors of this paper studied the economic potential and applicability of refracturing in six
different unconventional plays across the US, including the Haynesville, Fayetteville, Barnett, Woodford,
Eagle Ford, and Bakken plays. The expected rates of return for refracturing were compared to the
economics of new wells to determine which alternative is a better use of capital spending and how the
economics vary by play. Major challenges with refracturing horizontal laterals are highlighted, along with
criteria for picking the best refracturing candidates to reduce risk and help meet economic hurdles.
We carefully searched through over 20,000 laterals completed since the second half of 2013 in the US
and found more than 100 horizontal wells refractured by chemical diversion means based on public
records. The production results of these wells were evaluated to identify the best basins for economic
success. The Haynesville and Eagle Ford show the best rates of return, whereas other basins will require
higher market prices, changes to current refracturing techniques, and/or identification of the best
refracturing candidates to minimize the associated risks. The number of economic horizontal refracture
candidates across the various basins will vary with fluctuations in oil and gas prices.
Introduction
The concept of refracturing wells is hardly new to the oil industry. The first hydraulically fractured well
was in the Kansas Hugoton gas field in 1947, using a napalm-like fracturing fluid (McCoy et al 1990).
Not long after, some of the first successful refracturing attempts were observed in the Strawn formation
in Texas as early as the 1950s (Sallee and Rugg 1953). These early refracturing jobs were successful
enough that an estimated 35% of the 500,000 fracturing treatments performed as of the 1970s were
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restimulations of some sort. Refracturing declined in the years after, until the exploitation of unconven-
tional reservoirs in the US saw an increased need for hydraulic fracturing and the resultant refracturing
(Vincent 2010). This paper will focus on refracturing via chemical diversion means as it is the most
economic and widely used in plays where the initial laterals were cased and cemented completions.
Refracturing methodologies have understandably evolved since the 1950s, ranging from pump and
pray jobs in which fluid is pumped into an open hole/slotted liner well with no placement control all the
way up to using mechanical and/or chemical diversion that aids in directing the flow of fluid/proppant
along the lateral. The advent of horizontal wells to the industry in the early 2000s brought an increased
need for effective diversion, both for initial fracturing jobs and refracturing treatments. Various fluid
types, proppant types, pumping schedules, diversion materials, and a range of other fracturing aspects
have been modified to determine how to best divert fluid for a successful refracturing treatment. Although
a wide variety of diversion materials were used, the most common in practice were rock salts, perforation
ball sealers, 100-mesh sand plugs, and benzoic acid flakes (Kraemer et al. 2014; Carpenter 2014). Further
advances in diversion effectiveness brought biodegradable particulates that when pumped into the lateral
would plug the fracture pathways of least stress resistance (the pathways that take the bulk of the fluid
pumped) and locally block the flow of fluid. This, in turn, would allow the fluid to target other areas along
the lateral in the higher reservoir pressure areas. Being biodegradable, these particulates provided
additional benefit by disintegrating, or dissolving, after the job and not requiring specialized flowback or
chemical breaker.
Many questions arise while refracturing including: which clusters are taking proppant and fluid; was
there successful diversion; was new rock accessed. The industry has much better diagnostics today to
monitor and improve refracturing than it did 10, or even 5, years ago. Real-time diagnostics such as
microseismic monitoring (downhole or surface), fiber optics (permanently installed or temporarily
deployed in the treatment or offset wells), surface treatment data (instantaneous shut-in pressures, ISIPs,
can be used to determine whether new reservoir rock is being hydraulically fractured), and downhole or
surface pressure gauges (which can be deployed in offset wells) can be imperative in determining the
relative success of the diversion effectiveness and overall refracturing success. These measurements can
aid in changing the treatment design while pumping resulting in maximized effectiveness of near-wellbore
diverters, improved far-field diversion techniques, and enhanced proppant transport and conveyance along
the lateral during the treatment. Numerous passive diagnostics can be run to provide valuable informa-
tion after refracturing. These include radioactive (RA) tracers (to determine where various fracturing
stages have reached along the lateral), caliper logs (to measure the perforation entrance hole diameters
before and after refracturing, including new perforations if added, to determine where the refracturing
fluid went), injection logs (to measure the total fluid flow for each perforation cluster before and after
refracturing, including any added perforation clusters), production logs (PLs) (to determine oil, gas, and
water contribution by zone either before and after refracturing or just after refracturing), cased hole sonic
logs (to look for high conductive intervals of potential propped fractures before and after refracturing),
temperature logs (to determine the post-refracturing treatment injection profile), traced proppants (to
determine where the proppant went for various refracturing stages), and chemical/water based tracers (to
determine if the stage pumped is contributing to flow). These diagnostic techniques have elevated
chemically diverted refracturing from a pump-and-pray approach to a custom engineered design.

Refracturing
Refracturing is still a trial and error approach in many plays as the industry tries to apply the technology
to a wider array of wells. It requires more engineering, preparation, and evaluation than initial completion
planning. There are several things to consider in the design, execution, and evaluation of the refracturing
treatment.
SPE-179113-MS 3

Why Should Refracturing be Considered?


There are several reasons why refracturing should be considered. These include, but not limited to,
inefficient completion designs utilized the first time the well was stimulated; damage caused by reservoir,
fracture, or production factors; damage caused by the drilling or completion of offset/infill wells; reservoir
pressure and stress management; and to enhance recovery of hydrocarbons on a sinlge, lone well or
multiple existing laterals with fairly tight spacing.
Damaging mechanisms may cause a decline in the production of a well. These may include, but are
not limited to, drilling damage from offsets, high drawdown or production damage, proppant embedment
or compaction, migrating fines or clays, scale damage, paraffins, and asphaltenes. Refracturing, in some
cases, may help migrate or bypass the damage in these wells and increase production. Miller et al. (2011)
performed a study of over 100 production logs across North America and found that approximately 30%
of perforation clusters were not contributing to production. In addition to damage, this may be a result of
overflushed perforations or poor connection to casing.
Beyond production impairment being caused by the subject well system, offset wells drilled and
completed later in time to an older parent well can also be cause for refracturing (French et al. 2014).
Infill wells, while being fracture stimulated, can oftentimes hit an offset, existing parent well and
permanently impair the parent wells production. This frequently results in lowered economic expecta-
tions for both the parent and infill wells. By refracturing the parent well once the offset wells are drilled
and cased, but not yet stimulated, depleted reservoir rock can be recharged with hydraulic fracture stages
and new reservoir rock can be broken down and accessed yielding an increased recovery of reserves
(Martinez et al. 2012; Malpani et al. 2015; Marongiu-Porcu et al. 2015). Immediately following the parent
well protection refracturing treatment, the parent well is shut in while the infill wells are fracture
stimulated for the first time. This results in greater stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) achieved when
compared to the depletion case where the infill well is simply shut in or loaded with fluid prior to the infill
wells being fracture stimulated. When the parent well is refractured, then the depleted rock is stressed
causing the infill well fracturing treatment to be much more efficient at contacting new SRV for the same
treatment size when compared to the case of the parent well not having been refractured. This results in
improved production and resultant economics of both the parent and offset infill wells (Malpani et al.
2015; Marongiu-Porcu et al. 2015).
Pad refracturing is a relatively new concept to the energy industry. Pad refracturing occurs when a
series of wells along the same strike direction/window are refractured back to back. Wells are typically
on the same or adjacent pads for this type of approach. It is common to refracture three to six wells in
succession and then to flow the laterals back simultaneously. The idea is to charge up the depleted
reservoir in a given area and cause new hydraulic fractures to form in relatively virgin pressured reservoir
rock. Pad refracturing is being viewed by some in the industry as a means of enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
in unconventional plays.
Another application of refracturing is to revitalize good producing wells with remaining reserves, to
target missed pay, or for purely operational decisions. Although each reservoir is different, fracture
degradation through time is unavoidable even when a wells production is managed properly, especially
in over pressured soft formations such as the Haynesville (Baihly et al. 2015). Refracturing treatments
can be applied to a well to revitalize its fracture network and increase long-term production potential.
Although missed pay is commonly thought of in reference to vertical wells, horizontal wells with large
cluster spacing or missed intervals can be reperforated to stimulate entirely new sections of rock. The
effectiveness of refracturing has been observed to benefit greatly by the inclusion of new perforations in
untapped reservoir rock between depleted sections. Operational or business decisions can also drive the
need for refracturing. Refracturing can provide a lower-cost alternative to drilling new wells on leases that
fall below the required monthly production quota to hold the lease. In this case, operators can refracture
a well at lower capital costs until an infill campaign can be launched to exploit the lease area.
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What are the Challenges with Refracturing?


The challenges of refracturing include selecting the proper candidates, diverting across the entire lateral,
ensuring proppant suspension and transport along the entire lateral, stimulating new reservoir rock,
modeling the pre- and post-refracturing results, inferring the proper conclusions and design considerations
from diagnostics, and obtaining economic results.
When looking for refracturing candidates, there needs to be an apparent reason to refracture the well.
It is important to note that the lowest performing wells oftentimes do not make the best refracturing
candidates unless there is an identifiable reason why a well performed poorly that can be enhanced via
refracturing.
The subject well selected for refracturing could be a top tier candidate, but if the treatment and
diversion stages are poorly planned and executed, the resultant production will be far from economic.
With many laterals being at least a mile long and having dozens of perforation clusters, it is important that
proppant remains suspended in the treatment fluid for the duration of the refracture execution, particularly
at low fluid velocities inside the pipe. Due to the many leakoff points (perforation clusters), there are times
in the job that proppant may have little or no velocity to maintain suspension. Once proppant begins to
fall out, it starts to collect at the bottom of the wellbore. A small amount of sand can fall out, but at some
point, a critical volume of proppant filling up the lateral is reached. This is the point of no return and once
it is reached with more sand yet to be pumped, a sand plug is formed. A sand plug can effectively act as
a fluid barrier and stop the refracturing treatment from reaching further down the lateral. Coiled tubing
(CT) cleanout and RA tracer data have shown that this sand plug can occur within 1,500 ft or less of the
heelmost perforation cluster, leaving two-thirds or more of the lateral unstimulated during the remainder
of the refracturing treatment. Viscous treatment fluids can aid in some proppant suspension, but proppant
begins to settle in these non-Newtonian fluids at slower velocities. Agents such as fiber-laden fracturing
fluids can help to maintain proppant suspension for many hours under static conditions (Kraemer et al.
2014).
The relative effectiveness of the chemical diversion being pumped can be directly tied to the relative
success of the refracturing treatment. Chemical diverter launching, delivery, and placement is key to
achieving proper diversion. Oftentimes diverters are bimodal particles delivered in a viscous gel sweep.
These diverters can segregate in the lateral while being pumped resulting in the larger particles falling to
the bottom side of the pipe during lateral flow while the smaller particles are pushed along the top of the
pipe during flow, transported further down the lateral than where the larger particles exit the perforations.
In addition, bimodal particles may not be effective enough to plug off significant flow during a
refracturing treatment due to the aperture of the fracture and rock fabric at the fracture face. It is important
to deliver a competent chemical diverter that avoids segregation while being pumped. Fiber laden fluids
can help to maintain pill particle concentration and diverter pill volume during launch, delivery, and
placement. Additionally, multi-modal particle sizes (three or more) may be more effective at plugging off
wider fracture faces and under a wider array of rock fabric types. Particle size distribution also plays a part
in the overall success of the diversion treatment and again the optimum design varies by the fracture width
that is being targeted to plug.
Temperature is another important consideration when selecting the proper chemical diverter (Kraemer
et al. 2014). It is common to model the cool down effects of the fracturing fluid during the refracturing
treatments. Sometimes a chemical diverter with a lower temperature limit than the reservoir bottom hole
static temperature (BHST) is utilized and isolation of previously plugged off fracturess is lost later on in
the treatment, resulting in lower stimulated rock volume. When the diverter blocks off the majority of fluid
flow from a fracture, the cool down effect of the treatment fluid is negated and the rock begins to heat
up the diverter pill much sooner than in a continuously pumped conventional fracturing treatment. This
can cause the chemical diverter to prematurely degrade and lose its plugging capability. It is important to
choose a chemical diverter that is matched to the BHST of the reservoir and that will remain competent
SPE-179113-MS 5

for at least 12 hours beyond the treatment time in case any unforeseeable issues happen during the
treatment such as waiting on water transport, equipment maintenance, etc. Without proper diversion and
isolation, the new stimulated rock volume caused by the refracturing treatment is greatly reduced resulting
in minimal production uplift.
Fracture modeling in unconventional reservoirs is inherently challenging, and is even more so when
trying to model a refracturing job on a well that has been producing for several years causing stress
changes and depletion effects (Malpani et al. 2015; Marongiu-Porcu et al. 2015). Customizing the
treatment size to address performance, limiting offset well interference, proppant transport through the
lateral, and ensuring effective diversion along the entire lateral are major challenges when it comes to
modeling. These are discussed in more detail in the section on design considerations below.

What Factors Should be Considered when Picking Refracturing Candidates?


Candidate selection is one of the most important aspects to setting the stage for a successful refracture.
Good guidelines and factors to consider for refracturing candidate selection has been discussed in
literature (Craig et al. 2012; French et al. 2014; King 2010; Sinha and Ramakrishnan 2011; Vincent 2010).
No single factor stands out when selecting refracturing candidates; instead, there are many factors to
consider. These factors may include, but are not limited to; wellbore configuration, wellbore integrity,
lateral length, original stage spacing, number and spacing of perforation clusters/sleeves, type and volume
of stimulation fluid and proppant pumped on the initial completion, reservoir quality, reservoir pressure,
lateral landing location in relation to the target window, reservoir deliverability, hydrocarbon in place,
geohazards, initial production rates and trends, current production rates, water-cut of the well, cumulative
production/depletion, offset well spacing, offset wells production rates, other working interest owners for
approval, and most importantly, economics.
Wells with older understimulated completion designs are oftentimes considered good refracturing
candidates, but this is not always the case when trying to select an economic refracturing candidate.
Understimulated can mean many things; typically, in refracturing, it can refer to wells that have
significantly lower proppant amounts pumped per stage/perforation cluster/lateral foot when compared to
current best practices in the basin. Understimulated can also mean low proppant concentrations, poor
fracturing fluid selection (too high or low of viscosity) for the formation, and low stage/perforation cluster
density per foot, again when compared to the current best practices in the play. Wells that were originally
completed with an open-hole or slotted liner with a pump-and-pray approach, regardless of treatment
volumes, are frequently considered good candidates for recompletions and refracturing.
Reservoir pressure is an important consideration when choosing the proper refracturing candidate. If
a certain amount of energy is not available to help drive the hydrocarbon out of the system, then it can
be challenging to produce at economic rates, even with artificial lift installed after refracturing. The
reservoir must have an economic volume of accessible/producible hydrocarbon in place. If the system
deliverability is not there, then even the optimum refracturing treatment design will fail.
Geohazards are sometimes forgotten when considering refracturing candidates because completion and
production teams can sometimes drive the selection process. If the geology and geophysics team is not
included, a fault or water hazard may be missed and inadvertently reached during the refracturing
treatment. The landing location of the lateral within the reservoir is also key. If a significant portion of
the lateral is outside of the target window, then it may be difficult to access new, untapped reserves in
intervals of high reservoir quality. A well that is landed in poor reservoir quality rock or the wrong
reservoir layer for the intended fracture growth is not going to be remedied through refracturing.
Well spacing will affect the candidate because closely spaced wells may have fewer reserves and
reservoir pressure left to support the incremental production needed to make refracturing economical. This
will increase the propensity of the refracturing treatment to travel into depleted zones caused by offset well
production. In order to improve the chances for economic success, wells with tight spacing are better off
6 SPE-179113-MS

to be refracture stimulated simultaneously with offsets (pad refracturing). Individual refractured wells that
have larger relative initial spacing tend to have a better chance of achieving economic refracturing success
than tightly spaced wells. Well spacing also governs the size of the job that may be pumped. Pumping a
large job on closely spaced laterals may penetrate the offsets laterals causing detrimental damage to those
wells or increasing workover costs if they sand up. A pumping schedule that includes far field diversion
is critical for success in these types of refracturing situations.
Parent well protection is a factor to consider when picking candidates. In some basins, fracture
interference from newly completed infill wells may cause detrimental production effects on existing, older
wells in the area. As previously mentioned, charging up the parent well with a refracturing treatment
oftentimes increases the parent well production and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) and results in a
similar EUR uplift effect on the offset infill wells.
Picking refracturing candidates requires more preparation and evaluation than drilling new wells as the
uncertainty is much higher. Wells with initial poor performance should not necessarily be dropped from
refracturing consideration, just as high producing wells do not always make the best refracturing
candidates insome cases. This is a challenge to the industry because it goes against preconceived notions.

What Should be Considered when Designing a Refracturing Treatment?


When preparing a restimulation strategy for a given candidate well, a number of factors come into play.
Broadly categorized, these can typically be considered under i) site and well preparation, ii) treatment
design, including chemical and/or mechanical diversion, and iii) flowback and production. Modeling can
greatly aid in the design and evaluation phases of refracturing.
The physical pad location often requires attention; locations are often returned to their native state not
long after the original well completion and production tie-in operations have ceased. With the potential
for significantly improved operational efficiency relative to conventional plug-and-perf completions,
refracturing treatments can impose significant material throughput requirements on the logistics organi-
zation, and thus the investment in additional pad improvements is balanced against the time and cost
associated with delayed water as well as proppant delivery and offloading while pumping. It is important
to note that shutting down operations in the middle of a chemically diverted refracturing treatment is not
ideal because of proppant settling and dissolution of chemical isolation materials.
From the perspective of completion jewelry, many horizontal unconventional wells are produced
through tubing, with a significant fraction having some form of artificial lift installed. This necessitates
moving in a workover unit to pull the pump and tubing, and typically verifying casing integrity either
through ultrasonic imaging or via a hydrostatic test using a retrievable plug. CT is often considered for
a wellbore cleanout, particularly if additional perforations are considered. It is imperative that the wellbore
is clean of debris, seats, and other foreign objects in order to ensure the entire lateral can be effectively
restimulated. If there are any pinch points in the lateral, there is a high probability that the refracturing
treatment wont be able to effectively stimulate the portion of the lateral beyond that region.
The treatment design itself is a balance between the technical objective of ensuring optimal drainage
from the reservoir and the cost associated with a given approach, as viewed within the scope of uncertainty
surrounding the actual in-situ reservoir conditions. If mechanical wellbore isolation is desired, the
selection of a particular method will constrain the treatment design. In a bullhead treatment however,
several key issues require consideration. It is quite likely that not all perforation clusters in the well have
produced, and unequal production has occurred among the remaining clusters (Miller et al. 2011). In
low-permeability shale reservoirs, this differential depletion can lead to regions of significantly varying
pore pressures along the lateral, plus associated variations in the in-situ stress (Malpani et al. 2015).
General good practice strategies for new perforated completions has been discussed in the literature
(Wutherich and Walker 2012). When examining the wellbore geometry in a refracturing scenario, it
quickly becomes clear that many of these fundamental design objectives cannot be met. The sheer number
SPE-179113-MS 7

of exposed perforations negates the likelihood of achieving limited-entry effects. Consequently, a


relatively large number of fractures may be propagated independently, some at rates much lower than
would be considered ideal. In addition, the number of potential fluid exit points promotes the likelihood
of significantly reduced fluid velocity within the casing, particularly towards the toe, which increases the
risk of proppant settling in the wellbore that can cause an artificial sand plug. Adding fiber can help
suspend the proppant to allow sufficient wellbore coverage (Kraemer et al. 2014).
From a flowback perspective, it is important to realize that all fractures may be exposed to treating
pressure until the end of the job. It may be advantageous to allow for some shut-in time prior to flowing
back to allow the fractures to close, reducing the chance of flowing proppant back into the wellbore. A
final coiled-tubing cleanout may be advised prior to installing tubing, to reduce the risk of residual
proppant flowback damaging any associated lift or surface hardware. From that point, the well can be
produced as per standard field practices.

Refracturing Evaluation by Basin


A data mining method was developed to identify refractured wells from public data that have been
completed in the following basins: Haynesville, Fayetteville, Barnett, Woodford, Eagle Ford, and Bakken
(IHS Enerdeq 2015; FracFocus 2015). Refracs were found in other basins such as the Marcellus, Niobrara,
Eaglebine, and Bone Springs, however, the number of wells and post-refracture production history was
insufficient to include in this study. For the 6 basins selected, some of them have experienced refracturing/
recompletion techniques over many years; therefore, we focused on only refracturing treatments that were
completed by bullheading the entire treatment from the surface and pumping some type of chemical
diverter to obtain lateral coverage. To capture current completion trends and perform a basin-to-basin
comparison, we focused only on horizontal wells refractured in the past 2 years.

Workflow
For each basin, a candidate screening process was performed to identify the top potential refracturing
candidates. The parameters used in the screening process included initial/current production rates,
production declines, cumulative production volumes, lateral length, initial stimulation size, reservoir
quality, and offset well spacing. Other major pieces of information such as lateral landing, pressure, and
detailed completion data were not included because these were not available through public data. Each
basin has different characteristics so the level of importance for each criterion differs by basin.
Historical refracturing jobs were evaluated to get an improved understanding of the post-refracture
production rates that may be expected in each basin. For each well, best-fit production forecasts were
generated (Fig. 1, left) using the methods outlined by Baihly et al. (2015). A unique baseline forecast for
each individual well was generated to model the expected production rates had the well not been
refractured. Then, a unique refracture forecast was generated for each well using the actual post-refracture
production and forecasted out to 5 years. The difference between the refracture forecast and the baseline
forecast results in the 5-yr incremental production. This incremental production stream is what is used to
determine if the cost of the treatment can be recovered and determine if the return on investment is
economic.
8 SPE-179113-MS

Figure 1Basin refracturing production forecast example showing scenario 1 (left) and scenario 2 (right) used in economic models
where applicable.

Some of the refracturing jobs were completed for parent well protection. For these scenarios, an
additional forecast was generated to model the potential loss of production being caused by taking no
action on the parent well, other than shutting it in, while completing the offset/infill wells. In parent well
protection cases, the authors found a wide range of results where some parent wells were knocked offline
completely to parent wells that experienced an increase in production. In order to model a loss of
production scenario in parent well protection cases, the authors made the assumption that if the well had
not been refractured, the well would have lost half of the forecasted rate because of detrimental effects
of the new infill wells (Fig. 1, right).
An economic sensitivity for each basin was generated based on the results of the historical evaluation.
For the economic sensitivity study, two type curves were generated. The first type curve was an average
type curve of the authors identified top potential refracturing candidates for each basin (identification
based on production management, well deliverability, and location considerations). This type curve was
used as the baseline forecast curve for the refracturing economic sensitivity. Refracturing was modeled
after the average age of the candidates identified. A sensitivity was generated based on the 5-yr
incremental production gains observed in the basin review. The second type curve was modeled to
represent a new well in the area. For the gas basins, the type curves generated by Baihly et al. (2015) were
utilized. For the Eagle Ford (oil) and Bakken, new well type curves were generated and will be discussed
in the sections below. The economic sensitivity shows the expected before-tax internal rate of return
(BT-IRR) of investing capital in a new well versus refracturing older existing wells.
The economic assumptions for each model are shown in Table 1. For simplicity, we chose the same
economic assumptions outlined by Baihly et al. (2015). The oil and gas prices for each sensitivity are
assumed to be constant. For the Eagle Ford (oil) and Bakken sensitivities, a flat price of USD 2.60/Mscf
of gas was utilized for the associated gas. The refracturing costs are assumed to be all-in costs and
include removing and reinstalling tubing/artificial lift systems, pre- and post-job CT cleanouts, adding
perforations (if needed), the refracturing treatment, and flowback services. The costs vary between basins
for many reasons, including location, amount of sand/fluid pumped, horespower needed, estimated
workover costs, etc.
SPE-179113-MS 9

Table 1Assumptions for the economic evaluation in each basin (Baihly et al. 2015; Craig et al. 2012, French et al. 2014).

Eagle Ford Evaluation


The data mining process revealed at least 20 wells that have been refractured in the Eagle Ford that had
sufficient production data to analyze. All of these wells were located in the liquids area of the Eagle Ford
Shale. The estimated incremental 5-yr oil production ranged from ~5,000 bbl to 240,000 bbl (Fig. 2). Of
the 20 identified wells, 12 were identified as being for parent well protection. For these wells, an
additional forecast was generated as shown in Fig. 1 (right). Taking in to account the potential loss of
production had the wells not been refractured, the incremental production for almost all of these wells
showed a large increase.
10 SPE-179113-MS

Figure 25-yr baseline and incremental cumulative oil forecasts for 20 Eagle Ford horizontal oil wells. Wells highlighted in blue were
refractured for parent well protection.

All of the refractured wells found in the public database were in the liquids window of the Eagle Ford,
thus only liquid producers were studied. The candidate selection evaluation of liquids wells revealed 909
potential candidates identified by the authors. A refrac type curve was generated for these wells and used
as the base case. The economic sensitivity was generated for a 5-yr incremental oil production range of
20,000 to 200,000 bbl oil (Fig. 3). The average gas-oil ratio (GOR) of the wells was applied as a constant
to take in to account the expected associated gas production. For the new well, a type curve was generated
from the Karnes Trough area. This is considered the major sweet spot of the Eagle Ford and is the primary
location of infill development at low market prices (Martin et al. 2011). Using a sweet spot type curve to
represent the new well case is consistent with Baihly et al. (2015).
SPE-179113-MS 11

Figure 3Eagle Ford 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.

The evaluation and economic sensitivity show that refractures in the Eagle Ford can be successful and
economic at low oil prices. Assuming a refracturing all-in cost of USD 2 million, 95,000 bbl of oil is
needed to achieve a 5-yr BT-IRR of 20% at a flat price of USD 50/bbl of oil. An investment of USD 6.25
million on a new well would only give a 5-yr BT-IRR of 10% at the same oil price.

Bakken Evaluation
Many refractures have been completed in the Bakken in previous years (XTO 2011; Vincent 2010). The
data mining evaluation revealed seven wells that have been refractured in the last 2 years via chemical
diversion. Other Bakken wells have been recompleted as discussed by Indras and Blankenship (2015) with
positive results; however, these wells were not refractured with chemical diverters. These wells are
previous open-hole wells that are now being recompleted with liners, balls sleeves, or plug-and-perf
means. As mentioned above, the authors of this paper will focus on the wells that have been refractured
using chemical diverting systems. The estimated 5-yr incremental oil production gain for these seven
wells ranges from ~15,000 bbl to 180,000 bbl (Fig. 4).
12 SPE-179113-MS

Figure 4 5-yr baseline and incremental cumulative oil forecasts for seven Bakken horizontal oil wells.

The authors candidate selection process revealed 664 potential refracture candidates. The identifica-
tion of candidates focused on wells for refracturing via chemical diverters, not recompletions. The
economic sensitivity consisted of a 5-yr incremental production range of 15,000 bbl to 140,000 bbl (Fig.
5). Similar to the Eagle Ford, the average GOR of the wells was applied to take in to account the expected
associated gas production. The new well type curve with parameters shown in Table 1 was generated from
a group of wells in the North Dakota core area.

Figure 5Bakken 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.
SPE-179113-MS 13

Assuming a refracturing all-in cost of USD 2 million, 115,000 bbl of incremental oil is needed to
achieve a 5-yr BT-IRR of 20% at a flat oil price USD 50/bbl of oil. A new well with a cost of USD 8
million has negative 5-yr BT-IRR at the same oil price.

Haynesville Evaluation
Thirty-two refractured wells with sufficient production data were identified and reviewed in the Haynes-
ville Shale. For each well, a 5-year baseline and refracture forecast was generated (Fig. 6). The estimated
incremental cumulative gas production for 5 yr ranged between ~200 MMscf and ~2,300 MMscf. The
large range of incremental production is because of poor candidate selection, poor designs, and differences
in chemical diverters.

Figure 6 5-yr baseline and incremental cumulative gas forecasts for 32 Haynesville horizontal gas wells.

The refracturing candidate selection evaluation of the Haynesville revealed 416 top potential candi-
dates. An average type curve of these candidates was then generated using the method identified by Baihly
et al. (2015). An economic sensitivity was performed at the observed range of incremental gas production
to understand the expected 5-yr BT-IRR at different gas prices (Fig. 7) using the assumptions shown in
Table 1. The post refracture production decline rates for the Haynesville were less severe because most
operators in the Haynesville have initiated choke management practices for better reservoir management
(Thompson et al. 2010; Okouma Mangha et al. 2011). At a flat gas price of USD 3/Mscf of gas, an
incremental 1.4 Bscf gas is needed for a 20% 5-yr BT-IRR on a USD 1.6 million investment. A new well
in the area has zero to negative 5-yr BT-IRR at the same price.
14 SPE-179113-MS

Figure 7Haynesville 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.

With proper candidate selection and chemical diverting material, refracturing can be more economical
than drilling new wells in this basin.
Barnett Evaluation
The data mining process revealed more than 19 horizontal wells that have been refractured in the Barnett
over the past 2 yr using chemical diverters. The 5-yr incremental gas production estimates for these wells
ranged from ~1 MMscf to 600 MMscf (Fig. 8).

Figure 8 5-yr baseline and incremental cumulative gas forecasts for 19 Barnett horizontal gas wells.
SPE-179113-MS 15

The candidate selection evaluation revealed ~1,500 potential refracture candidates. A type curve was
generated from this group of wells with parameters shown in Table 1. The economic sensitivity was
generated for a 5-yr incremental gas production range of 100 MMscf to 600 MMscf (Fig. 9). For a USD
1.0 million investment on a refracture, a flat gas price of USD 4/Mscf is needed to achieve a 20% 5-yr
BT-IRR with a 5-yr incremental production of 600 MMscf (the highest observed in the group).

Figure 9 Barnett 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.

Obtaining higher incremental production rates in the Barnett may be a challenge because of a
combination of the following factors: the Barnett has been producing for many years (more depletion),
major development has already taken place leaving closely spaced wells, reservoir pressure is lower than
in other prolific gas plays (such as the Haynesville or Marcellus), and the estimated EUR of the Barnett
is 3-4 Bscf, which is less than the aforementioned shale plays (Baihly et al. 2015). The future for
horizontal refractures in the Barnett at low market prices is going to be a challenge, which was also
pointed out by Indras and Blankenship (2015).

Woodford Evaluation
The data mining process revealed 8 horizontal wells that have been refractured in the Woodford over the
past 2 years using chemical diverters. The 5-yr incremental gas production estimates for these wells
ranged from ~0.2 Bscf to 0.8 Bscf (Fig. 10). Many of these wells were refractured to protect the initial
producing parent well (as mentioned before) just prior to completing the offset infill wells that had been
drilled.
16 SPE-179113-MS

Figure 10 5-yr baseline and incremental cumulative gas forecasts for 8 Woodford horizontal gas wells.

The identified refractured wells were located in the Arkoma area of the Woodford; therefore, the
refracture candidate selection evaluation was only focused on this area. The evaluation identified 236
potential candidates. A type curve was generated from these candidates with parameters shown in Table
1. The economic sensitivity was generated for a 5-yr incremental production range of 0.2 Bscf to 1.2 Bscf
(Fig. 11). The new well type curve used in the sensitivity was taken from Baihly et al. (2015). For an
investment of USD 1.2 million on a refracture, a 5-yr incremental gas production of 1 to 1.2 Bscf is needed
for a positive to 20% 5-yr BT-IRR at a flat gas price of USD 3/Mscf, whereas, a new well is shown to
have negative 5-yr BT-IRR at the same price.

Figure 11Woodford 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.
SPE-179113-MS 17

Fayetteville Evaluation
The data mining process revealed 4 refractured wells in the Fayetteville Shale. The 5-yr incremental gas
production estimates for these wells ranged from ~0.2 Bscf to 0.8 Bscf (Fig. 12).

Figure 125-yr baseline and incremental cumulative gas forecasts for 4 Fayetteville horizontal gas wells.

The authors candidate selection evaluation revealed ~1,500 potential refracture candidates. A type
curve was generated from this group of wells with parameters shown in Table 1. The economic sensitivity
was generated for a 5-yr incremental gas production range of 0.2 Bscf to 1.2 Bscf (Fig. 13). For a USD
1.1 million investment on a refracture, a 5-yr incremental gas production of slightly more than 1 Bscf is
needed for a 20% 5-yr BT-IRR at a flat gas price of USD 3/Mscf. A new well with a cost of USD 2.6
million has negative 5-yr BT-IRR at the same price of gas.

Figure 13Fayetteville 5-yr BT-IRR sensitivity comparing the IRR of a new well versus a refractured well at different post-refracture 5-yr
incremental production estimates.
18 SPE-179113-MS

Summary
Refracturing with chemical diverters has seen a wide range of results. Even at low hyrdrocarbon prices,
many of the basins have realized economically successful refracturing treatments. Based on the evaluation
of so many refractureing treatments some trends emerged. In order to increase the chances of success for
a refracturing treatment, the well should have many of the following characteristics:
The well to be refractured must be a good refrac candidate and should have an identified reason for
refracturing which include, but not limite to, inefficient completion designs utilized the first time
the well was stimulated; damage caused by reservoir, fracture, or production factors; damage
caused by the drilling or completion of offset/infill wells; reservoir pressure and stress manage-
ment; and to enhance recovery of hydrocarbons on a sinlge, lone well or multiple existing laterals
with fairly tight spacing.
The refrac design needs to be engineered taking into account the initial completion and best
practices in that particular basin. Diverters should last during the treatment and dissolve within 2
days of the conclusion of the treatment. The particular pump schedule and diverter should be
engineered for that particular formation and associated fracture width and rock fabric.
A good fluid system needs to be employed that can transport proppant along the entire lateral, as
well as, a multimodal chemical diverter to divert fluid and proppant along the lateral.
From the economic evaluation:
Refracturing the initial parent well before completing offsets is the most economically viable option
over a very wide range of hydrocarbon prices. It increases revenue while also preventing detri-
mental offset frac hits that would reduce the parent wells long term productivity.
Refracturing at low market prices is a viable option of investing capital with greater returns than
drilling new wells in many cases.
The Haynesville, Eagle Ford, and Bakken show the best 5-yr BT-IRR for refracturing at low market
prices, followed by the Woodford and Fayetteville.
The Barnett shows the lowest returns at low hydrocarbon prices for refracturing.
In plays where economics are tighter, the success of refracturing will be a combination of carefully
selecting the best candidates, focusing on wells with higher net revenue interests, and finding the
most cost effective means to prepare and refracture the wellbore.

Acknowledgements
The authors of this paper would like to thank management of Schlumberger for allowing us to publish this
paper. The authors would also like to thank Tao Xu, Lina Paola Charry Tovar, Greg Pankratz, Jian Xu,
and Raj Malpani for their feedback on this paper.

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