Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Baken Never Ceases To Amaze Me -- A "Gel Frack" Vs A "Slickwater" Frack? -- October 11, 2020

Note: in a long note like this, there will be typographical and content errors. If this is important to you, go to the source. I may be misreading things; mis-forgetting history; seething things that don't exist. I am inappropriately exuberant about the Bakken. 


October 19, 2020: another "gel frack"? Reporting today:

  • 35969, drl/NC, Enerplus, Yosemite 148-95-02A-11H, Three Forks B1, Eagle Nest, t--; cum 65K 8/20; fracked 3/23/20 - 4/5/20; 6.53 million gallons of water; 65% water by mass;

October 12, 2020: see first comment. A "gel frac"? Interesting.

Original Post

This is really, really cool. Again, the Bakken confounds the "experts." 

For years, all we heard when it came to fracking: fracking success is not a big deal. It's simply this, just keeping use more and more sand. LOL.

A brief history.

Fracking in the Bakken began with 500,000 lbs of sand in an open-hole frack.

The operators gradually increased to maybe 2 million lbs of sand before BEXP went nuts and went to .... drum roll ... four million ... repeat, four million lbs of sand. I think everyone thought they were nuts. Sand was incredibly expensive at the time.

Then there was lots of talk about the different kinds and the different sizes of sand.

Then slick water.

Then eight million lbs of sand. 

And then EOG went to 20 million lbs -- I think this was under Mark Papa -- who, at the time, was considered by some to be the smartest man in fracking. That turned out not to be true. But he was good, incredibly good. But when it came to fracking, more to be learned.

When things got tough -- in 2014, and then again in 2016, and then most recently, 2020, operators had to get even more clever with fracking.

There are two components to drilling and completing a well in the% Bakken.

  • one: drilling.
  • two: completing.

Keeping it simple.

I think they have just about maxed out on the "drilling component":

  • time
  • accuracy

But it appears they are still trying to get the completion strategy down. 

I track the completion strategies being used in 2020 at the sidebar at the right

The Bakken never ceases to amaze me. 

Regardless of the amount of proppant (water, sand, chemicals) used in the frack, the amount of water, measured by mass in percent, has been around 90%. If it dropped below 87% it caught my attention -- I occasionally saw a frack with 84% water by mass. Obviously, there's an upper limit for the amount of water used by mass: 100%. LOL. 

Seriously, the greatest amount of water used in a Bakken frack by mass is about 93%. Maybe 94%. I'll watch to see if any have gone higher. 

But now this.  This is interesting to say the least. 

In three Enerplus wells coming off the confidential list this next week, not only did the operator accomplish a relatively moderate frack in each, about 6 to 8 million lbs of sand, but look at this: the amount of water used by mass was just under 65%. 

What's that all about?

Let's check one of the first wells on this pad, the only one that has an IP. 

  • 20917, 490, Enerplus, Likes Eagle 2-31H, Eagle Nest, 33-025-01388, t4/12; cum 265K 7/20; off line 9/19; remains off line 2/20; back on line 5/20; see this post; huge jump in production; t4/12; cum 267K 8/20; fracked 5/16/2012 - 5/16/2012; this well was fracked so long ago, FracFocus was color coding things, LOL, but I digress: 2.43 million gallons of water, and 87.81% water by mass; interesting, huh? A small frack by today's standards and a very small number of stages by today's standards.

According to the well file, this was a 25-stage frack, stimulated on 4/12/2012; using 2.6 million lbs of sand; as long as we've gone this far, let's look at the geologist's narrative:

  • first project of a 3-well pad
  • surface hole drilled to 2,390' MD
  • drilled to 10,650' MD (KOP) -- 8,260' in 161.75 drilling hours (for comparison, operators are now reading the KOP in one to three days (24 to 72 hours)
  • the curve commenced at 0700 CST on February 23, 2012 (the coldest time of the year in the Bakken) at 10,650' MD; completed on February 28, 2012; 0200 CST (almost five days; for comparison, operators are now drilling the curve in 12 hours);
  • the lateral:
    • began at 1115 hours CST, March 2, 2012, at 11,468' MD
    • TD reached in 167.75 lateral drilling hours at 0655 hours CDT on March 14, 2012, at 20,815' MD (12 days; for comparison, operators are now drilling same-length laterals in one to three days)
  • geology:
    • upper Bakken (Mississippian-Devonian) penetrated at 11,147' TVD
    • middle Bakken (Mississippian-Devonian) penetrated at 11,171' TVD
    • the upper 7' of the middle Bakken: the "A" zone
    • "B" zone: approx 5' thick
    • about 12' below the base of the upper Bakken shale, the 12' thick "ideal" target interval, the middle Bakken "C" zone
    • the goal was to keep the well bore within the "C" zone
    • the "B" zone showed consistently higher gas readings as compared ot the other zones in the middle Bakken
    • very low gas units throughout, however; max less than 400 units
  • then this comment:
    • Intervals of elevated total gas measurements (C1-C4) are inferred to be geologically related but not limited to enhanced hydrocarbon migration capabilities facilitated by increased fracture porosity, perhaps interrelated with macro/micro-faulting trends connected with local/regional structure. The precise interpretation of intervals of elevated total gas readings attained within the Middle Bakken during drilling operations at the Likes Eagle 2-31H location is beyond the scope of this evaluation. [In other words: no spoiler alert].
  • the geogolist/roughnecks did an incredible job: the well bore was 100% within the "B"/"C" target zone. Incredible. Two miles down. The seam, maybe 10 to 20 feet thick.

Recent production for this well (Hubber's Law violated, again):

PoolDateDaysBBLS OilRunsBBLS WaterMCF ProdMCF SoldVent/Flare


  1. The use of low water, high solids, indicates a gel frac (i.e. using gum thickener to hold more sand than "slickwater"). There was a lot of chatter about slickwater being better, but it's probably not true. It's more that it was cheaper. Now that service sector prices are in the dumps, may just be cheap so why not do a gel frac. [Just a thought.]

    1. Very interesting, thank you. I certainly don't know. But it was not a trivial difference -- it jumped out at me -- that "65%" figure -- in fact, at first I thought it was a typo, but then it was repeated in three wells. It will be interesting to see the frack report when it is reported to NDIC and scanned into the well file.

      Thank you for taking time to write; most readers would not have connected the "gel frac" idea.