The introduction of a new technology is critical for operators to expand
their completion options, increase efficiency, and drive profitably in
challenging environments. For unconventional reservoirs, open-hole fracturing
has been key for the economic success of new ventures. With the increase in
activity of liquids rich plays, there is a growing need for new technology
developments for open-hole fracturing systems that further optimize these
Using a combination of open-hole packers and sliding sleeves, open-hole
fracturing tools successfully segment horizontal sections of the reservoir to
be stimulated individually. In order to achieve isolation, seats of increasing
diameters are placed inside the completion at each fracturing sleeve. These
seats catch a ball that performs the function of opening the sleeve for
fracturing purposes and isolating the completion below the stage. After the
stimulation job is performed, the balls should ideally flow back to surface.
Unfortunately, as seen in the field and described in the literature, this is
often not the case. Balls frequently remain in the completion without coming to
surface. In some cases depending on ball and seat material, balls may actually
get stuck in the ball seats completely isolating production from the stages
below. Many operators have found this to be a root cause of production problems
and they are forced to take the added cost and risk of milling out the balls
A new degradable material has been developed for use on frac balls that
are used in said open-hole completions. Balls made of this material can handle
pressure differentials beyond the current market offering without deformation.
After fracturing, these balls degrade away opening up the flow path of the well
without intervention. The degradation time is a function of temperature and
water chemistry (including brine), but 1 to 4 days is a typical degradation
time. No other requirements are needed for the degradation process to occur.
This paper discusses a new degradable metal technology and its
application in open-hole fracturing.
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