Devon Energy has 30 recompleted Eagle Ford wells now in northwestern DeWitt County, Texas, and has identified “several hundred candidates,” it reported in May.

In the 30-well sample to date, reserves have increased more than 50%. Ten more wells are targeted for refrac this year. Devon produces 68,000 boe/d, 59% oil, from its 82,000 net Eagle Ford acres.

What’s a candidate for recompletion, asked Roger Read, senior energy analyst for Wells Fargo Securities, in a Devon earnings call in May.

“Ideally, really good rock that was really under-stimulated,” said Clay Gaspar, Devon’s COO. It has “maybe an ancient design that had a larger final string, like a 5.5-inch casing string, that you can run inside of and seal that back off and reperforate and restimulate.

“That’s our ideal scenario, but we’ve tested beyond that.”

The results have been compelling, he added, although Devon did not share per-well details. “You have some of your best candidates that compete head-to-head with new wells,” he said.

As for what Devon has graded to be Tier 2 candidates, “those are the ones we’re continuing to evaluate,” Gaspar said. “Maybe there’s a little tweak on the stimulation design that can push those into the very best category, like some of those we’ve seen upfront.”

The upside of the refrac spend has been swift. “The beautiful thing is the land is already paid for, the surface facility is already paid for, the infrastructure is already in place, and that can really help these returns from an immediacy and a capital-efficiency standpoint,” he said.

It isn’t simple, though. “As you can imagine, it’s a mechanically complicated activity. You have to go in and run a liner and then ultimately, you’re trying to stimulate new rock,” since old-tech completions didn’t fracture as much of the rock as frac recipes do today.

The recompletions, “we believe, stimulate new and incremental rock and really up the reserves and recoveries from these original wellbores,” he said.

Eric Hambly, Murphy Oil’s executive vice president of operations, told analysts in a May call that its 2023 Eagle Ford refracs to date “achieved a 10-time production increase and delivered higher post-refrac rates than the [same] wells delivered at initial production.”

Murphy does some well recompletions in leases while it’s adding new wells, primarily in Karnes County. In addition to the production and reserve uplift from each of the old wells, “we think [it’s] helping improve the performance of our new wells,” Hambly said.

Murphy has identified 220 refrac candidates. “And the way we came up with that was, we looked at wells that were initially fractured with less than 1,200 pounds [of proppant] per [lateral] foot,” he said.

Murphy’s modern Eagle Ford fracs are up to 3,400 pounds per lateral foot. In contrast, the vintage wells “look quite a bit under-stimulated,” Hambly said.

The results? “They’re pretty exciting. We’re seeing rates go from 15 [bbl/d] to 20 bbl/d to up to 1,500 bbl/d initially.”

And to date, the rate of decline “is not that dissimilar from initial production from those wells when they first came online, maybe seven or eight years ago.”

Murphy’s tack is to run a 4-inch casing. “We go in, perf and frac, kind of like a new well, just a little bit skinnier hole,” Hambly explained.

The 220 refrac candidates are in addition to Murphy’s inventory of 1,100 new-well Eagle Ford candidate locations, he added.

Completions firm Ranger Energy Services is seeing increasing demand for refrac services, Stuart Bodden, president and CEO, told analysts in a recent call. Amplify Energy reported in May that it brought two Eagle Ford wells back online post-refrac this spring.

Marathon Oil bought Ensign Natural Resources’ Eagle Ford portfolio in Bee, DeWitt, Karnes and Live Oak counties in December. Lee Tillman, chairman, president and CEO, said in November, when announcing the $3 billion cash deal, that the valuation didn’t include dollars for potential upside from refracs.

The portfolio came with 700 wells, “many of which are pre-2015, early-generation, under-stimulated completions, which likely left substantial recoverable resource behind,” added Pat Wagner, Marathon executive vice president for corporate development and strategy.

“We therefore see upside potential associated with redevelopment and/or refracs on the acreage…,” Wagner said. “Peers have been successful [with refracs] on offsetting acreage to Ensign, and Ensign has recently brought online three refrac tests of their own with encouraging early results.”