Is Refracturing the Answer to Energy Needs?

According to a story on, a global oil shortage and high fuel prices has triggered calls from President Joe Biden’s administration for U.S. shale producers to spend more of their profits to boost output. However, shale producers have been under pressure to focus more on returning excess cash to shareholders in the form of dividends and buybacks rather than production growth.

Luckily, there’s a proven technology for U.S. shale oil producers to return to existing wells and give them a second, high-pressure blast to increase output for a fraction of the cost of finishing a new well: shale well refracturing. Refracturing, an operation designed to restimulate a well after an initial period of production, can restore well productivity to near original or even higher rates of production as well as extend the productive life of a well.

Re-fracking can be something of a booster shot for producers – a quick increase in output for a fraction of the cost of developing a new well

While refracturing has never really gone mainstream, the technique is seeing higher adoption as drilling technology improves, aging oilfields erode output, and companies try to do more with less. According to a report published in the Journal of Petroleum Technology, new research from the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas shows that refractured wells using liners are even capable of outperforming new wells despite the latter benefiting from more modern completion designs.

JPT also estimates that North Dakota’s Bakken Shale straddles some 400 openhole wells capable of generating an excess of $2 billion if refractured. Mind you, that estimate is derived from oil prices at $60/bbl vs. this year’s average oil price of almost $90/bbl. According to Garrett Fowler, chief operating officer for ResFrac, a refrac can be up to 40% cheaper than a new well and double or triple oil flows from aging wells.

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