PITTSBURGH—Why not return to the hand that fed you?

Since the 1970s refracturing has been an option that has proven to bring about positive results. However, refracturing multistage horizontal wells is a somewhat new process that only gained more attention as prices fell.

“Compared to drilling and completion costs for a new well, refracturing can be significantly cheaper (about $2 million), while recovering as much as 1 Bcf of incremental gas reserves. In fact, refracks often provide such a high return on investment that it is recommended that refrack planning be part of the initial development of a field,” according to a recent Drillinginfo report.

As one of the many topics highlighted at Hart Energy’s recent DUG East conference in Pittsburgh, speakers on the “Technical Roundtable: High Intensity Operations” panel discussed whether refracturing makes sense and weighed the pros and cons of making that decision.

“You might have some challenges making [refracturing] work, but pioneers need to blaze a new trail in that,” said panelist John Adcock, vice president of operations at Ascent Resources. “Development is going to be a bit of an art with diverters, or it’s going to be a technical challenge with fullbore liners. But there’s a lot of reserve left behind in many basins.”

Other panelists included Ed Long, COO of Apex Energy; Tony Angelle, area vice president at Halliburton; Jared Oehring, vice president of technology at US Well Services; and Joe Brooker, president of Artex Energy.


According to the Drillinginfo report, there are multiple components to ensuring a refracturing operation is a success or failure, such as the type of refracturing technology being used.

“The use of fluid diversion, although relatively inexpensive, presents unreliability or concerns with repeatability. Many operators have reported success using diverters, while others prefer a method of zonal isolation,” the report stated.

Halliburton’s Angelle said the company has done 12 refracturing jobs using diversion and that diversion is used to save wells, such as where there is split in the casing or for casing that didn’t get to the bottom.

He said diversion is “one of the things where we’ve taken the refracturing technology and applied it to customer problems by collaborating with them to find a solution to save the well.”

However, Angelle also said the company is being told by its customers that the “economics at this low-cost base seen on the service side doesn’t really pay at this point.”

At least, not yet.

View the entire panel discussion (subscription required)

Wait until pricing recovers

One of the issues the industry sees with refracturing is the opportunity costs for companies with extremely limited capital, Oehring said.

“Are we going to make more off of a refracture or does the budget allow us to go with a new well,” he asked. “Until pricing recovers there will continue to be limited refracturing.”

Oehring said the industry needs to witness higher commodity prices and a greater delta in the opportunity cost before operators will turn to refracturing.

Long added, “I’m not aware of a lot of refracturing going on. Certainly it hasn’t been a discussion in [Apex Energy’s] shop at this point.” However, he said, “It may be a viable alternative down the road.”

So if an operator wanted to take this route, how does one know which well to refracture? Are there signs to look for in previous datalogs?

In a recent E&P article Schlumberger described a “good” refracturing candidate well as “one that has shown strong potential reservoir quality but had a production drop-off.”

The article also stated, “Wells previously completed with poor designs, leaving portions of the reservoir untapped, and wells that experienced mechanical issues also may be promising candidates.”

One thing the panelists agreed on is there are both pros and cons to refracturing.

“There are some technical successes and economic failures in refracturing,” Adcock concluded. “There’s a volume that has to be done to improve the knowledge of the technology experience to be able to make [refracturing] work. Again, people have to blaze that trail before refracturing becomes an economic alternative, especially at today’s prices.”

Ariana Benavidez can be reached at abenavidez@hartenergy.com.