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Texas consultant integrates fraccing with wireline logging

Bob Barba knows how to get the most value from bringing logs and fracs together.

The principal consultant with Integrated Energy Services spent the first 10 years of his career with Schlumberger as an openhole field engineer, sales engineer, and product development manager.

While at Schlumberger, he was the North American product champion for the FracHite and Quantifrac products that integrated wireline, testing and pumping inputs to optimize hydraulic fracture treatments.

Typically, experts possess knowledge in wireline logging, testing, or fracking, yet Barba has a deep understanding of all three sides of the equation and was one of the first in the industry to tie these three disciplines together. It was Dr. Holditch’s frac course Bob took in 1985 that provided him with the confidence to pursue this integrative process. This reinforced Barba’s feeling that this was an area that had a lot of potential for the industry.

Before he left Schlumberger, Barba said he talked with company management about starting a team to integrate wire line logging, well testing and fracking. Combining the three could change the way business was done in the oil industry.

Schlumberger decided to stick with traditional operations, and Barba left the company soon after.

Three years later, Barba was nominated by the International Society of Petroleum Engineers to be a distinguished lecturer based on his expertise on the integration of the wireline logging, testing, and fracking processes. He then traveled to locations across the country, sharing his knowledge and expertise on the subject.  Ironically, two years after that, Schlumberger acquired S.A. Holditch and Associates, the company that inspired Bob to pursue the integrative process in the first place. This further reinforced his conviction that the industry needed this process.    Barba was again ahead of the curve.

The Integrated Approach

Integrated Energy Services provides advisory services to oil and gas producers. As principal consultant, Barba shows clients how to get more out of the ground for less. By doing a diagnosis of the well, Barba’s team can not only analyze what’s in the ground, but also figure out how to best stimulate the well to get the hydrocarbons out of the rock.

When compared to a typical well analysis by a petrophysicist, Barba’s team goes the extra mile. “You might get some volumetrics out of a standard analysis, but a lot of the time you don’t get more than basic rock properties. They often leave it to the operators to figure the rest out. Whereas we go in and tell them where the productive zones are, how much they’re going to produce, and what the optimum frac stimulation program should be to obtain the lowest cost per BOE,” said Barba.

Barba has worked with more than 200 companies over the last 34 years in the industry. He focuses on the integration of petrophysics with completion designs in a variety of reservoirs in North America.  Major unconventional consulting projects undertaken by Barba involved optimizing completion practices in the Marcellus, Utica, Cline, Eagle Ford, Bakken, Wolfcamp, and Bone Springs formations.  In the past he has also developed models for the Cotton Valley, Wilcox, Vicksburg, Red Fork, Travis Peak, and numerous other conventional reservoirs in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela.

Often times, another company can’t get a well to produce as expected, or they have questions regarding a well’s potential output, its previous fracs, or even about the reservoir itself, problems they can’t find answers to on their own. So they call Integrated Energy Services, since they know Barba’s expertise and trust him.

Integrated Energy’s key focus is using wire line log data to maximize asset value by using the information to optimize the completion design, a process that Barba helped pioneer.

In conventional reservoirs the company estimates the apparent frac length for hydraulically fractured wells to determine if completion practices can be improved. For unconventional reservoirs a model is built for specific fields that ties the log data to expected recovery with different landing options for horizontal wells.

With Barba’s model, Integrated Energy Services creates an estimate of well performance. This can be compared to actual well performance to understand the effectiveness of the completion.

Ultimately, the process leads to more production and a lower cost per barrel.

Barba also identifies which wells are good candidates for refraccing. Finding the right well is important, but so is finding the right zone within that well. As refracking becomes popular practice across shale plays, figuring out whether or not a well has potential to economically produce more before spending the money on the process can save a producer a lot of time and money.

Educating Engineers

Not only does Bob Barba use his integrated approach as a consultant, but he also teaches it.

Barba teaches a three-day course on refrac candidate selection, execution and performance evaluation. He first started teaching industry courses on logging and fraccing in 1993.

During the three-day course, Barba teaches his students how to maximize asset value by integrating the wireline and fraccing disciplines. With the continuing oil slump, Barba tells students they have two choices to break even in the oil industry.

“You can either hope for better prices or you can lower your cost per barrel,” Barba said. “How do you get more out of the ground for less?”

Most of his students are petroleum engineers. In the course, Barba instructs students how use his approach to make wells productive and ultimately save them money on their bottom line. “There are a lot of ways to complete wells. You need to know where to perforate,  how much to pump, and what fluids and proppants to pump” says Barba. It’s a complicated process that Barba helps students untangle.

According to Barba, there are three key components to identifying successful refrac candidates.

The first is a petrophysical evaluation to identify the hydrocarbons in place and where they are. The second is identifying what mechanically was done the first time that resulted in lower production.  The third is designing the completion to access as much “new rock” as possible.  A case in point is Brigham Exploration in the Bakken.  They increased the number of stages in their laterals within the same lateral length from 7 to 12 with a 10% cost increase yet increased their average EURs from 144 MBO to 355 MBO. This 247% increase in production was primarily from accessing “new rock” that the initial frac bypassed.”  This shows the potential for refraccing wells with similar initial spacing.  On a side note, there are many operators who are not effectively treating the “new rock” with simple diversion techniques that are popular now, and operators are leaving a lot of hydrocarbons stranded in the ground with these “quick and dirty” diverter-based techniques.

“You don’t want to repeat the same problem or repeat the same mistake twice,” Barba said.

There is always the thought that he is equipping students too well so they wouldn’t need his services, but Barba isn’t worried about that. He said they often turn around and say “this can be a very involved process and you seem to know what you’re doing. I’ve got other things to do.”

“The more you educate people on the process, the better off everyone is,” Barba said.

Even his students can see it. Barba is still ahead of the curve.

Want to stay ahead of the curve, too? See Barba’s 5 step guide to lowering your cost per barrel:


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