Williams’ symops improve efficiency of gas production
Monday morning, with the Book Cliffs shimmering in the heat beneath a blue sky and the temperature on the ground in the high 90s, a team of red-overall-clad Halliburton workers are readying their equipment to begin fracturing four wells in preparation for producing natural gas.The huge rigs are idle now as the crew allows visitors to walk around the pump trucks and the sand tanks and the containers of chemicals used in the fracturing process.As soon as the visitors are safely back in their pickup truck, they will begin a pump test to make sure all equipment is working properly before the “frac” job is begun.On this well pad just east of Parachute on Interstate 70, Williams, one of the top gas producers in the Piceance Basin, is in the midst of an innovative process – called simultaneous operations, or symops – that allows the company to drill and complete up to 22 wells on one pad.Even at idle, the big Kenworth truck engines make an ear-splitting noise that vibrates the ground. Once under way, with the pumpers and mixers at work combining the sand and fluid that will open the porous gas-bearing formation, the men don their heavy-duty ear protection and speak to each other through electronic communication equipment.A long line of bright green tanks are lined up ready to contribute the hundreds of thousands of gallons that will be pumped down the drill bores to open the tight sand formations and allow the natural gas to flow out and up the pipe.”We average 100,000 gallons of water per job and 100,000 pounds of sand,” said Williams completion manager Steve Harris. Much of the water that comes up from the more-than-7,000-foot well bore during drilling is reused for fracturing.Symops is relatively new to the Piceance Basin and will take gas operations a step into the future with increased efficiency.Just a few hundred yards up the road from the massed fracturing equipment is H&P (Helmerich and Payne) Rig 274, which will continue drilling new bores at the same time as the fracturing process is applied to four previously drilled holes.Commonly, drilling has to be finished, one well at a time, before the completion operations – cementing, perforating and fracturing – can begin. With conventional wells, rigs must be moved off site after the drilling is finished before completion and production can begin. The new H&P flexible drilling rigs now allow the company to perform all those operations at once on multiple wells on one well pad. H&P rigs also have an ability to skid the entire rig along approximately 80 feet of track and about 10 feet on a perpendicular axis.This ability to move in two directions allows drilling of up to 22 wells on one pad, with each well seven feet apart in two parallel rows 10 feet apart. Conventional rigs can handle two to six wells per pad.During the entire process, from drilling to production, “the purpose is to leave the formation like we found it, except without the gas,” Harris said.While the diesel electric-powered Flex4 rigs have slightly larger pads than conventional rigs – 2 to 3 acres versus 112 to 2 acres – the ability to drill more wells on a single pad will make for less land disturbance in the long run, Harris said.With all the activity on one pad, gas gets to market quickly.”With the wells we frac today, we’ll be on sales tomorrow,” Harris said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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