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Oilfield Technology, May 2018
Early in 2015, a Statoil R&D team decided to confront a decades-old challenge. Even though the industry had been fracking wells for nearly seven decades, understanding and mapping of fracture growth remained elusive, often preventing informed decisions about full-field development. The reason was simple: The existing fracture map technology could only be applied to a limited number of wells because the cost was prohibitive.
The team went to work knowing a digital transformation could address the cost issue that would, in turn, address the full-field necessity for a comprehensive insight into fracture growth and the mapping of the fracture network. If successful, the team would be able to offer the industry greater awareness into why all of this is vital in the first place: the issue of geologic variability that can cause wells even very close to produce vastly different amounts of oil.
The R&D work proceeded swiftly. By the second half of 2015, the team began internal validation studies of what was called an integrated modeling approach for geometric evaluation of fractures or IMAGE Frac™ technology. The technology is based on a pressure gauge on a monitor well to record the poroelastic pressure response from a nearby treatment well that was hydraulically fractured. The purpose, and the foundation of the new approach, was to create a pressure-based fracture map, an industry first.
Early in 2016, the team began what turned out to be successful pilot projects. Following this external technology validation, the venture capital group, Statoil Technology Invest, created a spin-out entity, Reveal Energy Services, in late 2016, with IMAGE Frac technology as the foundation of the company. This oilfield services company startup has an exclusive license to the pressure-based fracture map technology and the essential patents.
In addition to offering 3D fracture map of half-length, height, asymmetry, and azimuth, the pressure-based fracture map data support four other applications that allow operators to
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