The goal of this project is to determine the geomechanical properties of the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, and use these results to increase the success rate of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in order to improve the ultimate recovery of this vast oil resource.
University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND 58202-7134
Compared to the success of producing crude oil from the Bakken Formation in eastern Montana, the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracture stimulation technology applied in western North Dakota has been less successful, thus requiring the development of new completion and fracturing technologies. The biggest challenges were that (1) the horizontal well could not hit the natural fracture, and (2) the hydraulically generated fractures did not develop in the designed, linear orientation and symmetric shape, but in many cases skewed into complicated shapes.
The geological heterogeneity and inadequate knowledge of the in situ stresses and other geomechanical parameters of the Bakken Formation resulted in many failures of horizontal well completions in North Dakota, with each costing several millions of dollars. Based on past research efforts, the following can be concluded:
The results of this study will be used to produce an application guide that can be used for horizontal drilling and/or hydraulic fracturing operations in the Bakken Formation. New technology for determining in situ stress using the Kaiser effect will be developed and tested to help the petroleum industry improve horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the Bakken Formation. With a better knowledge of in situ stresses and other related geomechanical parameters, the success rate for drilling and hydraulic fracturing will be greatly improved.
U.S. domestic oil production has increased rapidly in the past several years. While crude oil production in many conventional plays is declining, North Dakota’s oil production from the unconventional Bakken Formation is increasing rapidly. The results of this project may directly benefit oil production in the Williston Basin, and the related technologies developed under this project will contribute to the exploration and production of oil and gas from other unconventional resources.
The project has been completed and the final report is available below under "Additional Information".
Final Project Report [PDF-129MB]
Vast Energy Resource in Residual Oil Zones, FE Study Says - News Release July, 2012
Technology Status Assessment [PDF-59KB]