Offshore fracking? Baker Hughes builds deep-water tool

Houston’s Baker Hughes has developed a deep-water hydraulic fracturing device, pictured here, called DEEPFRAC, the company announced on Monday, May 1, 2017.

The Houston oil field services firm Baker Hughes has built a new hydraulic fracturing device for deep-water drilling, and says the service could save operators hundreds of millions of dollars.

Baker Hughes announced the device, called DEEPFRAC, on Monday morning, as the Offshore Technology Conference was opening at Houston’s NRG Park, home to the National Football League’s Texans.

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Hydraulic fracturing is a laborious, multi-stage process. DEEPFRAC eliminates many of those steps, Baker Hughes said. It uses sleeves that can be set in multiple positions and balls that control the flow of oil and fracking liquids and eliminates the casing and cementing operations. Baker Hughes said the device will provide “unprecedented efficiency gains.”

To create the device, the company adapted hydraulic fracturing technologies and techniques from the U.S. onshore shale revolution, said Jim Sessions, vice president of completions at Baker Hughes.

DEEPFRAC will allow companies to frack 20 stages — up from just five, in some cases — and cut certain well completion steps from weeks to days, the company said.

On a recent job, DEEPFRAC saved about 25 days of rig time and $40 million on a first-ever 15-stage deep-water completion in the Gulf of Mexico, Baker Hughes said.