US shale producers start to “re-frac” wells

Oil producers in the US shale industry have started returning to existing wells and giving them a second blast at high pressure in order to extract more oil from them, a process that has come to be known as a “re-frac”.

With the global oil supply being relatively tight, US oil producers are under pressure to produce more oil. While some companies have already indicated production growth, others have heeded their investors’ calls for greater returns. The US shale industry is no stranger to doing more with less, though, and re-fracing is gaining popularity as a way to increase production much more cheaply than completing a new well, because the infrastructure is already there. This is especially attractive due to the currently high costs for diesel, labour, steel and frac sand.

Re-fracing usually works by inserting a steel liner into the existing borehole before using high-pressure blasts to force holes in it, allowing further oil reserves to be accessed. This may only need half as much frac sand and steel, compared to a new well, in certain cases.

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