Gazprom Neft undertakes first cluster fracking using high-silica “frac sand”

Gazprom Neft has successfully completed cluster fracking* using high-silica “frac sand” at the Yuzhno-Priobskoye Gazpromneft-Khantos field. This new technology, delivering greater oil recovery, was tested at the field with the support of specialists from the Gazprom Neft Research and Development Centre. The application of cluster fracking with the use of frac sand is expected to result in a 20-percent reduction in fracking costs, while maintaining full efficiency.

Cluster-fracking technology has already been in use throughout Gazprom Neft fields for several years, and differs from traditional hydraulic fracking insofar as ceramic proppant** is injected into the strata. The process typically involves continuous injection of proppant throughout the fracking process, completely filling the fissures created under hydraulic fracturing. The use of cluster-fracking technology involves the injection, in rotation, of a proppant agent (proppant) and a special synthetic fibre, allowing channels to form within these fissures. In this way, the use of cluster-fracking technology reduces the volumes of proppant necessary in hydraulic fracking by 40 to 50 percent. The method involving the use of frac sand in place of proppant (the cost of which is two to three times lower) which has been tested at Gazpromneft-Khantos fields demonstrates still higher production efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Gazprom Neft plans to undertake two similar operations at licence blocks within the Yuzhno-Priobskoye field. The outcomes of testing this technology will then be subject to detailed analysis, and a decision taken on its further dissemination throughout the company’s other enterprises.

Gazprom Neft First Deputy CEO Vadim Yakovlev commented: “Our increasing use of high-technology wells allows Gazprom Neft to bring into commercial production ever more ‘complex’ reserves, increasing effectiveness in field development. The ongoing search for — and application of — new technologies is what drives a company’s dynamic growth: an investment in long-term, sustainable progress. Systematic research and development by Gazprom Neft subsidiaries is developing a further source of support for (and increasing) the production of hydrocarbons.”

* Hydraulic fracking is a means of increasing oil production at a field. It involves the high-pressure injection of a liquid mixture and special proppant material into the strata. The process of fluid injection causes highly connective channels (“hydraulic fractures”) to form, connecting the bore holes and the strata. These fissures result in an oil flow that would not, otherwise, reach the well. Hydraulic fracking is undertaken under horizontally and directionally drilled wells. Multi-stage fracking involves several fracking operations through a single bore hole within a horizontal well, allowing multiple coverage of a strata catchment area from that single well.

** Proppant — an artificial proppant agent essential for keeping fissures open once hydraulic fracking has been undertaken.