Technical papers

Applying Science and Best Practices to Increase Production and Optimize Economics in a West Texas Gas Field – A Canyon Sand Case Study (SPE 117538, CARBO authored)


20/40 EconoProp was substituted into Canyon Sandstone treatments, providing 60% higher initial rates than Brady sand.  During the first year, EconoProp wells produce 21 MMCF incremental gas compared to offset wells with sand fracs.


Hydraulic fracturing is the most popular and successful stimulation treatment in the petroleum industry. Fracturing technology has opened numerous unconventional hydrocarbon frontiers that, were it not for this process, would otherwise be uneconomic to develop. However, designing the optimal hydraulic fracture is anything but an exact science. Our industry relies on many simplifying assumptions that assist in making expedient decisions, but can prevent reaching a truly optimized treatment.

Additionally, the optimal hydraulic fracture treatment rests in the eye of the beholder. Given the cyclic nature of the industry, for many companies the optimization process has become synonymous with “getting the same results at lower cost.” However, to successfully optimize a fracture treatment, one should also consider design modifications which increase production, evaluating the costs and benefits of each alternative. Using economic criteria appropriate for the company goals, this process can yield an economically optimized fracture design. Unfortunately, even this method typically fails to provide an industry-wide “best practices” approach. What is deemed optimal for one company may not be optimal for another, as each company may have different financial and economic goals.

This paper will outline the approach that one Canyon Sand operator used to apply sound science and best practices to meet their financial goals by altering the hydraulic fracture design. Initial well productivity has been improved over 60% with these modifications. Since the design changes required an incremental investment, the authors will present several economic analyses of the outcome. It will also be shown that depending on a company’s specific evaluation criteria (NPV, Cost Target, EUR, etc.), these design changes may or may not reach individual economic hurdles and be incorporated in future work.

Readers of this paper will see how specific design changes increased production and understand the process required to truly optimize production using economic criteria.

Author(s): SPE, SPE, Kelly Blackwood, and Kaylene Williamson, Highmount Energy; Terry Palisch, and Mark Chapman, CARBO Ceramics; and Mike Vincent, Insight Consulting

Paper Number: SPE 117538



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