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Proppant Technology Advance Eyed in Bakken Tests

A Texas-based proppant manufacturer for the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sector said tests of a technology in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota resulted in a 39% production increase over a 90-day test period.

Fairmount Santrol had a service company, Enerplus Corp., compare use of its Propel SSP production in six wells with five offset wells that were completed using Northern White sand in a traditional cross-linked fracking gel fluid system. The initial production for the 90-day period was markedly better than the offset wells and the details are summarized in a case study on the company's website.

Fairmount was one of three proppant companies that introduced innovations at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Houston in September (see Shale DailySept. 28). The other two were U.S. Silica Holdings Inc. and Preferred Sands.

The Propel SSP use in the Bakken wells simplified the fracking operations by reducing fluid additive consumption by 77% and pumping time by 14%, the company said recently. "The technology can easily be pumped at high loading rates in a low-viscosity fluid that increases hydraulic fracturing efficiency," the company said.

In the Bakken tests, the operator realized other cost efficiencies from the Propel SSP, according to Fairmount, because the product does not require fluid heating at 35 degrees F or above, which they contend differentiates it from traditional cross-linked gel fluids that need to be heated to 60-70 degrees F. "The operator achieved a saving of 90 cents/bbl of water with the reduced water-heating requirement," Fairmount said.

This past summer, Fairmount Santrol presented a technical paper that concluded the self-suspending proppant increases oil and gas production by not harming the formation. The paper was delivered July 22 to the Unconventional Resource Technology conference.

The Williston Basin has accounted for a declining percentage of oil-focused drilling rigs over the last four years, falling from 20% of the U.S. total in early 2011 to roughly 10% today.

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