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Remote Fracture Mapping

Over the past two years, the Bureau of Economic Geology’s Advanced Energy Consortium has been conducting downhole tests of its electromagnetic proppants at the bureau’s Devine Test Site in South Texas. The tests are run to help identify the location of proppants and fluids in hydraulic and natural fractures near the wellbore and in the interwell space with greater accuracy and can help scientists better understand fracture geometries, which influence oil and gas production and ultimate recovery within a field.

In 2017, researchers fracked a 300-foot-deep well using electromagnetic proppant in an effort to characterize the resulting fracture pattern. The results were validated with nearby offset wells that transected the fracture pattern. Fractures and proppant from the fracked well were clearly visible in the cores.

In 2018, as a secondary check, the bureau’s Near Surface Observatory — with Principal Investigator Jeffrey Paine and Research Scientist Associate Lucie Costard — brought logging equipment to the site to log the new offset wells. They ran conductivity, gamma-ray and mini-resolution logs in the wells to sense the proppant in fractures and to correlate those readings with what is observed in the actual cores. Analysis\ of the results is ongoing, but the initial results of the experiment have been very positive.

“If we validate the experimental model with this test, we may one day soon be able to use this technology at scale,” said Mohsen Ahmadian, a consortium program manager and lead researcher on the experiment