Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:05 PM


NYGAARD, Kris J., ExxonMobil Production Company, 800 Bell Street, Room 3061-G, Houston, TX 77025,

During the last decade, the North America energy outlook has been massively transformed by commercial access to vast hydrocarbon resources in unconventional reservoirs. This has been enabled by the integration of multiple technologies for drilling, completing, and producing wells. The expanding development has also led to increasing public concern and discussion over a range of potential safety, health, environmental risks and social impacts. This presentation will focus on two primary enablers for unlocking the full potential of tight resources: (a) key technical elements driving hydraulic fracture treatment design, execution, and cost-effectiveness; and (b) understanding and effectively mitigating the inherent risks associated with this “industrial process”.

Specifically, this presentation will focus on key technical elements associated with hydraulic fracturing, and the stimulation technologies necessary for cost-effective, reliable, and effective “multi-zone” stimulation of a diversity of reservoir intervals associated with “tight” unconventional resources. The technology approach is characterized by both a fundamental understanding of the physics and relentless pursuit of optimum field operating practices.

The inherent risks associated with shale development are managed by assessing the risk level, understanding risk in the context of probabilities and consequences, and implementing mitigation methods based on the local context to reduce the risk to an acceptable level. Extensive experience clearly demonstrates that hydraulic fracturing technique poses little risk to groundwater due to multiple geological and well design features. Sound operational practices concerning well construction and integrity, water management, air emissions, and surface impacts exist and should be followed to prevent accidental releases and mitigate other concerns.

Sound development of unconventional resources will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to the nation and to the communities where the resources are produced. An appropriate regulatory framework considering the local context, coupled with an operator’s implementation of an effective risk management framework and sound engineering practices will enable safe development of these resources.