Providing technological solutions for mature and unconventional fields

August 1, 2013

A specially designed technology is available for cutting per well costs, increasing production and maximizing profits in mature fields with unconventional hydrocarbon resources.

“By not needing to perforate, place plugs or cement, the logistics required for completing each well are much simpler. A job, which using traditional techniques took 15 days, could be completed in two hours with our systems,” says Pedro Lezama, Latin America Manager with the Canadian company, Packers Plus Energy Services.

Established in 2000 with the goal of providing innovative high-value solutions in the oil services area, the company developed the StackFRAC system.

“Since it was invented in 2001, we have assisted in completely reshaping the world oil and gas industry by enabling operators to maximize their production in unconventional formations and mature fields,” he further points out.

In addition to pioneering multistage fracturing systems, the company is the leader in open hole HPHT retrievable packers and specialty tools.

“We specialize in solving the biggest problems faced by oil and gas producers by increasing the efficiency of their operations in low permeability, low porosity formations.”

Fortunately, he further adds, there is an increased opening up among operators in the Argentinian market towards adopting these new technologies.

“In Latin America, Argentina was the first market to utilize our systems. The outlook for us to continue growing here is very promising, as is the case in Brazil, Colombia and Mexico.”

Currently, the company is strongly committed to the task of building awareness and establishing new ties in the country.

“In addition to our versatility, we also count on the logistical and structural support of our Schlumberger partners,” he emphasizes.

Local presence
Packers Plus is currently working in various formations in Canada, USA, Middle East, West Africa, North Africa, China, Australia, Europe and obviously, Latin America. With over 9,200 systems installed worldwide, the organization has sales representatives in 34 locations all over the world.

“Our presence in Argentina goes back to 2006. To date we have completed 28 wells in the region. It is no coincidence then that Argentina is the country where we have been the most active, if you consider its pioneering role in the use of hydraulic fracturing for conventional and unconventional production,” Lezama points out.

In his view, the domestic hydrocarbon scenario poses numerous challenges, but also enormous opportunities for new technologies. “The industry is at a point where a change is required. When resources are limited, operations must be optimized.”

Another trend which he envisions at the domestic level, based on his estimations, is that vertical wells will soon gain in importance with respect to horizontal wells. “Also, determining the best way to exploit the unconventional resources of the Neuquén Basin is still a pending task,” he adds.

Regardless, he believes that markets with giant hydrocarbon reserves like Venezuela (heavy oil) or Argentina (shale gas) require a more adequate and attractive operating framework than the current one.

“For us as a service company, the back and forth between operators and governments is a delicate matter because our work depends on both sides. However, we have the big advantage that at the end of the day everything boils down to one thing; producing barrels in the largest possible quantities at the lowest possible cost. And we can help make this happen.”

Representative Case Study
One of the most successful Packers Plus completions in the country took place in Loma La Lata. Located in the east-central sector of the Neuquén Basin, it is the largest  gas field in Argentina, with estimated reserves of 285 billion cubic meters. It is a very mature field, which has been developed over more than 30 years and has seen its production decline by 30% in recent years.

This reality, combined with a huge demand for gas at the domestic market, created the drive to evaluate new completion methods to improve production in the area. The operator in charge had drilled four open hole horizontal wells, with the Sierras Blancas sandstone formation as the target. However, only one of the four wells was able to flow.

In order to increase production, an offset well was fracture stimulated using the conventional completion method (i.e., “cement and perforate”), but the procedure took 12 days and was barely able to fracture three stages.

Everything changed with the StackFRAC system, which allowed stimulation of all five stages in one single operation.

The final well barely took 2 hours to be completed (all the fluids and proppant were available at the location, which allowed an uninterrupted treatment). The cost savings resulting from the reduction in work time reached US$500,000 per completion. At the same time, the production achieved was on average four times greater than that of offset wells and furthermore, one of the drilled wells became the highest gas producer within the field.