Reeves County Fracturing Test Site: New Study Will Optimize Technology for More Efficient and Effective Shale Development

October 25, 2016
Des Plaines, IL

Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and BHP Billiton Petroleum (BHP) signed a letter of intent for a Hydraulic Fracture Test Site (HFTS) to develop and test technology that will enable improved recovery, lower cost, and enhance the environmental sustainability of U.S. shale resources in the Reeves County area of the Delaware basin, a subset of the West Texas Permian basin.

An important feature of the experiment will be a dedicated well drilled to extract a core to better understand the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) within the Wolfcamp formation. The diagnostic information will provide insight to the fracturing network and connectivity between fractures across horizontal wellbores. The information will also deliver an understanding of appropriate well and fracture spacing to optimize production with reduced environmental impacts. At the same time, air and water samples will be taken in the test site area to evaluate air and water quality.

Notes Kent Perry, Executive Director of Energy Supply R&D at GTI, “This effort is changing the industry by facilitating deeper understanding of the hydraulic fracturing process. Determining optimum well spacing will potentially reduce the number of wells producers have to drill, conserve water, reduce emissions, and minimize land footprint. This will have a tremendously positive effect on the environment as we access this important energy resource.”

According to Alex Archila, President, Shale for BHP Billiton, “This is an exciting opportunity to work with GTI in a joint industry initiative to further understand and define potentially breakthrough cost improvements and environmentally responsible methods of developing shale resources in the Permian Basin which could materially change its profitability. BHP Billiton will contribute significant existing research data to the project. This data will provide immediate insights to all project participants.”

This effort builds off the first Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site (HFTS) collaboration, which took place in the Midland sub basin of the Permian, led by GTI with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (DOE/NETL) and numerous operators and service companies in 2015-2016. The first HFTS provided initial insights on how induced underground fractures spread and this information is being used to assess the performance of individual fracture stages.

Since there are significant geologic and fluid differences between the Delaware and Midland basins, a test in the Delaware basin will provide location-specific results to further the understanding of subsurface outcomes and optimize development.

Work at the new test site between GTI and BHP Billiton—called HFTS #2—will be performed over the next 12 months. Similar to the first HFTS, public and private sector participants are being invited to participate in this novel opportunity.

About GTI Energy

GTI Energy is a leading research and training organization. Our trusted team works to scale impactful solutions that shape energy transitions by leveraging gases, liquids, infrastructure, and efficiency. We embrace systems thinking, open learning, and collaboration to develop, scale, and deploy the technologies needed for low-carbon, low-cost energy systems.

About BHP Billiton Petroleum (BHP)

BHP Billiton is among the world’s top producers of major commodities including iron ore, metallurgical coal, copper and uranium. We also have substantial interests in oil, gas and energy coal. We extract and process minerals, oil and gas from our production operations located primarily in Australia and the Americas.

With a team of more than 65,000 employees and contractors, we prioritize our people’s health and safety and strive to create an environment free from fatalities, injuries and occupational illnesses. We aim to maximize the social and economic benefits of our operations, contribute to economic development and minimize our environmental footprint through innovation, productivity and technology.

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