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Unconventional Insights

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SPE’s mission is to give its members the most current information related to key industry topics offering valuable insight into current and future ways of doing business. To support this mission, the JPT Unconventional Insights newsletter debuted in November to give members in-depth information on the increasingly important unconventionals sector. It spotlights the latest trends, technology applications, and critical developments in the most important plays, as well as highlights the most provocative technical papers.

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A preview of the newsletter below.


Shale’s Big Sand Switch Is Delivering Dollars, But Not Eroding All Concerns

JPT Sand Story
Where shale producers in Texas are getting their proppant has turned out to be one of the sector’s most significant market transformations since the onset of the oil industry’s downturn. The 4-year movement toward using regional sands from within the state has been a major economic win for the operators leading it but there are long-term concerns. 

How Does Vaca Muerta Stack Up vs. US Shale? Data Tell the Tale

JPT Vaca Muerta Story
For what seems like forever, the upstream universe has awaited the emergence of Argentina’s Vaca Muerta Shale as the international answer to US shale. In many regards, it already holds its own. In others, there is still much work to be done. Either way, 2019 will mark a promising step forward for the play. 

Led by Frac, The Oilfield Services Space Could Get Interesting in 2019

JPT 2019 OFS Story
Growth in the global oilfield services and equipment space accelerated in 2018 as crude oil prices posted their highest yearly averages since 2014. But recently volatility in oil prices and uncertainty about shale production could halt the upward momentum.

ProPetro Completes Acquisition of Pioneer’s Pressure Pumping Assets

JPT ProPetro Story
ProPetro Holding Corp. completed its acquisition of the pressure pumping service assets of Pioneer Natural Resources Co. on 1 January and will provide services to Pioneer for a term of up to 10 years. The transaction creates the largest pressure pumper in the Permian Basin.   

Unlocking Unconventional Reservoirs With Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence

JPT Shale Sand Story

The use of data analytics, machine learning, and AI can lead to better stimulation and completion design to maximize production while yielding long-term cost benefits. In addition, the way to optimize hydraulic fracturing operations in real time and improve the overall consistency of well performance is using algorithmic controls.


Five things you didn't know about supermajors in the Permian

It has become evident by now that supermajors Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell are serious about long-term aggressive development of unconventional reservoirs in the Permian Basin. Read more...

Exploring Earth’s deep subsurface with magnetic resonance chip

Harvard University Professor Donhee Ham has been awarded funds by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to develop miniaturized nuclear magnetic resonance electronics. The devices’ small size and low cost lend themselves to broad deployment in Earth’s deep subsurface, enabling imaging of rock formations for oil and gas exploration. Read more...

New shale gas drilling methods boost production potential, study finds

A new analysis of  major US shale gas plays has revealed the amount of natural gas that can be technically recovered from future well locations has increased by 20% compared with an estimate made about 5 years ago. Researchers attributed the increase largely to new drilling practices. Read more...

Shell to launch major oil project in Argentina’s Vaca Muerta shale play

Shell plans to start a full-scale development project in Vaca Muerta next year, betting on the shale play to ramp up oil and natural gas production in Argentina, the government of Neuquen recently announced. Read more...


Vincent Artus is a software development petroleum engineer with KAPPA, a petroleum engineering software company.

A Conceptual Structure to Evaluate Wells Producing Fractured Rocks of the Permian Basin
Raghavan, R. and Chen, C.C., September 2018, SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition.

In this paper, Wolfcamp shale well production data corresponding to the consequent dataset of Chu et al, 2017 (SPE-191407-MS) are evaluated through a transient matrix flow slab model with subdiffusive flow in both the fracture and matrix systems. Heterogeneities in these systems are shown to significantly influence the dynamic performance of this reservoir, with long-time productivity supported by the matrix system. This work provides an important theoretical foundation for the well responses shown in Chu’s study. An interesting aspect of the transient flow model used in this paper is to show five possible main flow regimes, depending on the state of each matrix and fracture systems (infinite acting or pseudo-steady state).

Transient Linear Flow Analysis of Multi-Fractured Horizontal Wells Considering Three-Phase Flow and Pressure-Dependent Rock Properties
Behmanesh, H., Hamdi, H., Clarkson, C.R., Thomson, J.M, Anderson, D.M., and Chin, A., July 2018, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference.     

In this paper, a semi-analytical model is presented for the analysis of multi-fractured horizontal well early-time production data during transient linear flow under constant flowing bottomhole pressure conditions, accounting for three flowing phases (oil, gas, and water) and pressure-dependent properties. This extends the applicability of linear flow analysis to multiphase and pressure-dependent properties conditions, in order to estimate the total effective fracture area. The paper is a good illustration of a wider range of research efforts to extend the applicability of current analytical models and diagnostic tools to more non-linear conditions and more complex heterogeneity.

A New Comprehensive Numerical Model for Fracture Diagnosis with Distributed Temperature Sensing DTS
Sun, H., Yu, W., and Sepehrnoori, K., October 2017, SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition.

Distributed temperature sensing is gaining growing interest, including for unconventional wells where it can be used for real-time characterization of the fractures. This paper presents a numerical model to simulate flow and temperature profiles of horizontal wells with complex fractures. The proposed thermal wellbore model is fully coupled to the reservoir and accounts for multiphase flow with interphase transfer and slippage effect. 


2018 Oil and Gas MandA

US upstream oil and gas mergers and acquisitions reached $84 billion in 2018 for the highest total since oil prices fell in 2014, according to Drillinginfo, a data analytics company. The Permian Basin was the most active area for deals with $28.3 billion, a third of the total. BP’s $10.5 billion purchase of most of BHP’s shale assets was the largest deal of the year and fourth largest since 2009. Source: Drillinginfo (


SPE/AIChE Workshop: Spend Less and Produce More - Offshore and Shale Flow Assurance Lessons
5–6 February| AT&T Hotel and Conference Center | Austin, Texas, USA

SPE Hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference and Exhibition
5–7 February| The Woodlands, Texas, USA

SPE Show Me the Money: Moving the Duvernay from Apprialsal to Commerciality
19–20 March| Calgary

SPE/IADC International Drilling Conference and Exhibition
5–7 March| The Hague, Netherlands

SPE Workshop: Challenges to Develop Unconventional Resources in Colombia
28–29 March| Holiday Inn | Bucaramanga, Colombia


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