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Three hydro-fracking derricks sitting on a plain.

London-listed Highlands Natural Resources has begun testing a new well drilling technology that could help protect existing wells from bashing.

The company said on Monday that testing of DT Ultravert in the Piceance Basin has commenced in cooperation with Laramie Energy, Schlumberger Limited and Calfrac Well Services Corporation.

According to Highlands, DT Ultravert diverter technology enhances well output by directing hydraulic fracking fluids to unstimulated portions of the formation and releasing previously unrecoverable hydrocarbons “at a fraction of the cost of drilling a new well.”

DT Ultravert technology is based on an inert gas form in contrast with current diverter technologies that are largely based on solid forms.

The companies will conduct focused testing on the application of DT Ultravert to protect existing wells from “bashing.”

Highlands had previously identified two potential applications for DT Ultravert: to facilitate re-fracking of horizontal wells and to protect existing wells from damage caused by bashing.

Bashing occurs during fracking operations when the frac fluid of an adjacent, or “child,” well infiltrates the wellbores of nearby parent wells.

Bashing reduces or destroys the production and reserves associated with the parent wells.

Highlands said that as well spacing decreases due to infill drilling, the density of wellbores is increasing across many major shale plays.

“It is a potentially serious problem as public oil and gas companies that experience bashing must reduce their publicly announced reserves proportionately, and banks also reduce their lending limits in proportion to destruction of reserves and production,” Highlands said.

In the Piceance Basin, wells are drilled and fracked in close proximity with density reaching as high as one well per 10 acres.

“Having experienced issues related to “bashing” previously, Laramie and Highlands collaboratively decided to test the application of DT Ultravert diverter technology as a way of protecting parent wells from being damaged in this way in the future,” Highlands said.

Highlands commenced its parent well protection campaign using the DT Ultravert technology on September 18.

Schlumberger-operated pumping crews began injecting nitrogen into two existing natural gas wells in the Laramie-operated Piceance Basin natural gas field in western Colorado.

Simultaneous to those operations, two new adjacent child wells were fracked by Calfrac.

Data on the effects of bashing gathered from other nearby wells is providing Laramie with a control group for comparison purposes.

Highlands said it will release additional details about the tests, including well performance and comparisons to nearby bashed wells, once the results have been analysed.

Highlands is financing all of the parent well protection costs as part of its research and development and commercialization efforts tied to DT Ultravert.

The company has an existing agreement with Schlumberger for testing DT Ultravert’s role in the re-fracking of horizontal wells and is currently negotiating an extension of that agreement to include its parent well protection campaign.

Highlands added that it “continues to advance towards additional testing and commercial applications of DT Ultravert in both parent well protection and re-frac applications.”

“I am proud of the work completed by the Highlands team  over the past several months. We are making good progress on the testing and commercialization of DT Ultravert having commenced this Parent Well Protection Campaign,” Highlands CEO Robert B. Price said.

Last year, Highlands Natural Resources acquired a 75 percent interest in Diversion Technologies’ current patent applications, in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and globally in an all shares transaction.