Early hydraulic fracturing completions in the Vaca Muerta Formation in central Argentina have traditionally incorporated the use of conventional fluid systems, such as linear and crosslinked guar-based polymers. Within the past few years, however, the benefits of viscosifying friction reducers (HVFR) have been demonstrated in the industry, predominantly within the United States. These benefits include cost savings, simplified operations and enhanced well production. Recently, a major Argentinian operator successfully trialed the HVFR technology in the Vaca Muerta Formation.
Neuquén Basin in Central Argentina
HVFR fluid systems are polyacrylamide-based polymers that are commonly used as friction reducers for fracturing. Some of these polymers can develop viscosity with higher concentrations and are very good at transporting proppant out into the fracture network. Unlike guar-based fluids, the HVFR fluids contain no residue and provide excellent cleanup after fracturing. Operationally, the fluids are very simple to use and require no hydration equipment or complex chemical additives.
The Field Trial
The pilot project was performed on a horizontal, 27 stage lateral in the Aguada Pichana Oeste field in the Neuquén Basin of Argentina. Positive laboratory test results led to a field trial, during which several benefits of the HVFR fluid system emerged. Operational efficiency was an early success, including a reduction in the quantity of chemicals on location, more simplified pumping schedules, and low pumping pressures. Secondly, significant cost savings were realized compared to previous fluid system packages. Finally, positive production results were observed, leading to the decision to incorporate this technology into full field development operations.
The performance of this relatively new treatment fluid delivered positive results in a strategic international asset. The project has led to full field development using this technology.
by Mark Van Domelen
Vice President – Technology