HOUSTON, May 6 (Reuters) - Devon Energy Corp and Chesapeake Energy Corp said on Wednesday they see an opportunity to produce more natural gas in the Barnett Shale in Texas with a second round of fracking on older wells.
The companies, two of the largest operators in the Barnett during the natural gas boom where production peaked in 2012, believe they can breathe new life into wells that were fracked while that technology was still in the early stages, executives said on earnings calls.
“We’ve seen such a dramatic improvement in our completion results with the newer technology,” said Tony Vaughn, executive vice president for exploration and production at Devon. “We’ve gone back and are starting to test some of these new completion techniques with our existing (wells).”
During hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - water, sand and chemicals are blasted into shale and other rocks to create fissures that allow oil and natural gas to flow out.
In one type of refracking, tiny plastic balls, known as diverting agents, are used to block older fractures and increase the overall pressure of the well so output climbs.
Devon has completed about 50 refracks on vertical Barnett wells and expects to complete a 200-well program this year, said Vaughn.
Chesapeake is also testing refracks in the Barnett, where it has identified more than 1,000 wells where the technology might work. So far it has tested nine wells using two different techniques, Jason Pigott, executive vice president for Chesapeake’s southern division, said on a conference call.
Not everyone is sold on the emerging technology.
On Tuesday, executives at Anadarko Petroleum Corp and EOG Resources Inc said refracking is still too unpredictable to rely on as a way to slash costs and increase output during the oil price slump. (Reporting by Anna Driver; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)