From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
For more information, please contact the author.

Bureau Seminar, October 20, 2006

A Review of Production Technology of Barnett Shale


Fred Wang, Research Scientist, Bureau of Economic Geology



The Barnett shale has been exploited for gas since the early 1980s. More than five thousand wells have been drilled with a cumulative gas production over 2 tcf. The success of Barnett shale development is largely attributed to market conditions and the evolution of production technology.

Water fracs, refracturing and horizontal wells with multi-stage hydrajet fracturing are the major technologies currently used in Barnett shale gas production. Water frac technology is evolved from early nitrogen foam fracturing and subsequently mass hydraulic fracture (MHF). Refracturing changes fracture orientation due to pore pressure depletion around original fractures, and hence increases gas production. The use of horizontal wells with multistage hydrajet fracturing has led Barnett shale gas production to a new level.

Factors affecting gas production from horizontal wells are lateral length and spacing, fracture length, and number of fracturing stages. In addition, micro-emulsion treatments on fractures have also been tested successfully to enhanced Barnett shale gas production.