The Tool for Unlimited Frack Stages

By Staff Report | April 22, 2013

The typical number of discrete fracture stages, portions created in the process of shale stimulation used to open oil reservoirs for better flow rates, on a Bakken-based well is around 25. NCS Oilfield Services has created a multistage system that is anything but typical. Earlier this year, NCS completed 50 frack stages on a single well, and if the drilling team had wanted more, NCS’ technology could have done it. 

The main components of the system are frack sleeves and a bottom hole assembly called the mongoose tool. The system allows the driller to place multiple fractures into the rock without the need for ceramic balls or plugs used to portion off one fracture zone from the next. Using the traditional plug-and-perf or ball sleeve completion method, means a lateral can only be fractured a limited number of times due to the space requirements necessary to properly portion off one fracture zone from the next. 

According to Eric Schmelzl, principal engineer, who helped design the system, drillers have said the tool wouldn’t work and unlimited fracture stages in a single well were not possible because of the limited space each lateral has. “We have a tremendous database of successful frack rates in the 99 percent range,” he says. But, most drilling teams aren’t willing to try the system until they see it in action on a nearby well. 

A recent client of NCS, however, was  willing to try the trademarked multistage unit, and now that client is unwilling to disclose this completion methodology to others,  Schmelzl says. But, that’s not a bad thing. “They said, 'we think we have an edge (by using the NCS technology) on our competition.'”