Summer 2008
Fracture Diagnostics Overview

Since the inception of hydraulic fracturing, operators have always wanted more information on fracture dimensions. They started out focusing on logging temperature profiles after fracturing. A cooling effect was created when the fracturing fluid was injected into the formation interval. This technique provided indications as to which interval had fluid, but did not give any specific information on the location of the proppant in the fracture.

The use of radioactive tracers is the common procedure used today. It is one of the few methods that provide analysis of the location of materials downhole. Radioactive tracers are often used for determining propped fracture height.

This method is used by adding a radioactive tracer material to the proppant slurry as it is being pumped into the well. Since the material is constantly radioactive, it must be handled by trained professionals that are equipped to work with hazardous materials. In addition, there are a variety of safety and environmental concerns that must be dealt with when using radioactive tracers. Along with these issues, the post frac logging run must occur as soon as possible in order to achieve the best results. The results from radioactive tracers may not be very precise since the tracer material may or may not stay with the proppant in the fracture.

Hexion's Oilfield Technology Group now offers the PropTrac HSM Fracture Diagnostics Service. This new technique uses a non-radioactive tagging material that is applied to the resin coating of the proppants that are pumped into the fractures. Since the proppants are not radioactive, the same safety and environmental issues do not apply. A specialized logging tool is used to activate the tag and provide the exact location of the proppants. With every single proppant having the tag in its coating, they provide much more accurate results as to the height of the fractures. Another added benefit is the fact that logs can be run as often as needed during the life of the well at the operator’s discretion.

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