New techniques have the potential to revolutionize refracturing, a process used to recover oil from wells after the iniital production phase.
And it’s a process interesting many in the Bakken region.
So why the buzz about it now?
“In the past, when we refracked a well, it was typically because we weren’t satisfied with it. Nobody wanted to talk about it much because the original completion was less than optimal,” says Monte Besler, owner of FRACN8R Consulting.
But today, technological advances have enabled the recovery of oil from older wells once thought to be tapped out. Many of those wells are five years or older, often making them prime candidates for refracturing. The industry slowdown may have helped as well.
“When margins are narrower, it actually drives innovation. When things are easier to make money, people don’t have to change much. They can do a lot of the same thing,” says Besler.
Refracturing is attractive because a lot of the necessary equipment is already in place. But there is a downside. It’s hard to say exactly how much oil will be recovered. A Department of Mineral Resources spokesperson estimates at least 200,000 barrels would be needed to make refracturing cost-effective.
“It’s an ongoing process with refracturing right now. We’re somewhere here on the learning curve. We haven’t started to plateau at all,” says Besler.
But the Department of Mineral Resources will continue to study refracturing and its potential to shift the dynamics of oil production in the Bakken.
State lawmakers have also expressed interest in studying the new refracturing techniques further.