Using planar fracture models to match treatment pressure and improve understanding of the fracture geometry generation is not a new concept. Knowledge gained from this exercise has historically been used to improve engineered fracture completions and production, and maximize net present value (NPV); however, at some point during the progression from vertical to horizontal wellbores, many within the industry have forgotten about the learnings that can still be gained from current fracture models. Engineered completions have been largely replaced by spreadsheet efficiencies relevant to operations rather than production in too many cases. Some images of unconventional well stimulation treatments portray fractures growing in every direction, forming patterns that resemble shattered windshields, and have often excluded the known physics related to rock geomechanics, reservoir properties, and geology. Excuses to dismiss modeling are numerous and are gaining the reasoning of conformists.
Unconventional resource plays might or might not contain large numbers of natural fractures; but, current fracture models can still be used to gain insight into the fracture geometries being generated. While the development of complex fracture models continues to evolve, the industry can still gain insight to fracture geometry and resulting production using current planar fracture modeling. Caveats to this process are that it requires: Valid measured data to establish model constraints. The engineer to understand the basic physics of how fractures are generated and when (and when not) to twist the "knobs" in the model. The engineer to understand which "knobs" should be used based on real diagnostics information. The actual single well production to be an integral part of the process.
Valid measured data to establish model constraints.
The engineer to understand the basic physics of how fractures are generated and when (and when not) to twist the "knobs" in the model.
The engineer to understand which "knobs" should be used based on real diagnostics information.
The actual single well production to be an integral part of the process.
This paper demonstrates the results of honoring data measurements from a multitude of potential sources, including downhole microseismic data, downhole deformation tiltmeters, offset pressure monitoring, DTS, DAS, diagnostic fracture injection test (DFIT) analysis, injection as well as production data with bottomhole pressure measurements, etc., and the resulting observations and conclusions. Several industry examples are discussed to help frame the vast amount of information possible to help engineers do a better job of including more diagnostics into routine operations to provide additional insight and ultimately result in improved models and completion designs.
This paper is not intended to merely demonstrate the results of the work but to spark an interest in bringing more intense engineering back to fracture stimulation modeling for horizontal completions.
The Powder River Basin has emerged over the past year as the latest source of oil production growth for the Lower 48. Companies ranging from a reborn Samson Resources to US onshore mainstays Devon, Chesapeake, and EOG are now betting on the basin to become a long-term core asset. Colorado’s industry lacks the size, variety, and Wild West characteristics of Texas, but that is precisely why the Centennial State’s oil production is surging to record levels. This paper describes a comprehensive field study of eight horizontal wells deployed in the stacked Niobrara and Codell reservoirs in the Wattenberg Field (Denver-Julesburg Basin).
The operator piloted a new well-completion design combining inflow-control valves (ICVs) in the shallow reservoir and inflow-control devices (ICDs) in the deeper reservoir, both deployed in a water-injector well for the first time in the company’s experience. In this paper, the authors describe a project to design, field trial, and qualify an alternative solution for real-time monitoring of the oil rim in carbonate reservoirs that overcomes these disadvantages. The authors detail the development of a technique based on surface-to-borehole controlled-source electromagnetics (CSEM), which exploits the large contrast in resistivity between injected water and oil to derive 3D resistivity distributions, proportional to saturations, in the reservoir. This industry is one often considered reactive and overly tradition-bound. These new technologies, however—and, more importantly, the drive of these researchers to harness their capabilities—prove that petroleum engineers remain at the forefront of innovation and discovery.
After a long cooling off period, this dry-gas shale play is once again red hot. Ghawar vs. Permian Basin: Is There Even a Comparison? While some try to put the two enormous oil producers toe-to-toe, the best thing to do might be to understand why they are different. Machine-learning methods have gained tremendous attention in the last decade. The underlying idea behind machine learning is that computers can identify patterns and learn from data with minimal human intervention.
Rosenhagen, Nicolas M. (Colorado School of Mines) | Nash, Steven D. (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation) | Dobbs, Walter C. (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation) | Tanner, Kevin V. (Anadarko Petroleum Corporation)
The volume of stimulation fluid injected during hydraulic fracturing is a key performance driver in the horizontal development of the Niobrara formation in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin, Colorado. Oil production per well generally increases with stimulation fluid volume. Often, operators normalize both production and fluid volume based on stimulated lateral length and investigate relationships using "per-ft" variables. However, data from well-based approaches commonly display such wide distributions that no useful relationships can be inferred. To improve data correlations, multivariate analysis normalizes for parameters such as thermal maturity, depth, depletion, proppant intensity, drawdown, geology and completion design. Although advancements in computing power have decreased cycle times for multivariate analysis, preparing a clean dataset for thousands of wells remains challenging. A proposed analytical method using publicly available data allows interpreters to see through the noise and find informative correlations.
Using a data set of over 5000 wells, we aggregate cumulative oil production and stimulation fluid volumes to a per-section basis then normalize by hydrocarbon pore volume (HCPV) per section. Dimensionless section-level Cumulative Oil versus Stimulation Fluid Plots ("Normalization" or "N-Plot") present data distributions sufficiently well-defined to provide an interpretation and design basis of well spacing and stimulation fluid volumes for multi-well development. When coupled with geologic characterization, the trends guide further refinement of development optimization and well performance predictions.
Two example applications using the N-Plot are introduced. The first involves construction of predictive production models and associated evaluation of alternative development scenarios with different combinations of well spacing and completion fluid intensity. The second involves "just-in-time" modification of fluid intensity for drilled but uncompleted wells (DUC's) to optimize cost-forward project economics in an evolving commodity price environment.
Field data have shown the decline of fracture conductivity during reservoir depletion. In addition, refracturing and infill drilling have recently gained much attention as efficient methods to enhance recovery in shale reservoirs. However, current approaches present difficulties in efficiently and accurately simulating such processes, especially for large-scale cases with complex hydraulic and natural fractures.
In this study, a general numerical method compatible with existing simulators is developed to model dynamic behaviors of complex fractures. The method is an extension of an embedded discrete-fracture model (EDFM). With a new set of EDFM formulations, the nonneighboring connections (NNCs) in the EDFM are treated as regular connections in traditional simulators, and the NNC transmissibility factors are linked with gridblock permeabilities. Hence, manipulating block permeabilities in simulators can conveniently control the fluid flow through fractures. Complex dynamic behaviors of hydraulic fractures and natural fractures can be investigated using this method.
The proposed methodology is implemented in a commercial reservoir simulator in a nonintrusive manner. We first present one synthetic case study in a shale-oil reservoir to verify the model accuracy and then combine the new model with field data to demonstrate its field applicability. Subsequently, four field-scale case studies with complex fractures in two and three dimensions are presented to illustrate the applicability of the method. These studies involve vertical- and horizontal-well refracturing in tight reservoirs, infill drilling, and fracture activation in a naturally fractured reservoir. The proposed approach is combined with empirical correlations and geomechanical criteria to model stress-dependent fracture conductivity and natural-fracture activation. It also shows convenience in dynamically adding new fractures or extending existing fractures during simulation. Results of these studies further confirm the significance of dynamic fracture behaviors and fracture complexity in the analysis and optimization of well performance.
A. Alfataierge, J. L. Miskimins, T. L. Davis, and R. D. Benson, Colorado School of Mines Summary The 3D hydraulic-fracture-simulation modeling was integrated with 4D time-lapse seismic and microseismic data to evaluate the efficiency of hydraulic-fracture treatments within a 1 sq mile well-spacing test of Wattenberg Field, Colorado. Eleven wells were drilled, stimulated, and produced from the Niobrara and Codell unconventional reservoirs. Seismic monitoring through 4D time-lapse multicomponent seismic data was acquired by prehydraulic fracturing, post-hydraulic fracturing, and after 2 years of production. A hydraulic-fracture-simulation model using a 3D numerical simulator was generated and analyzed for hydraulic-fracturing efficiency and interwell fracture interference between the 11 wells. The 3D hydraulic-fracture simulation is validated using observations from microseismic and 4D multicomponent [compressional-wave (P-wave) and shear-wave (S-wave)] seismic interpretations. The validated 3D simulation results reveal that variations in reservoir properties (faults, rock-strength parameters, and in-situ stress conditions) influence and control hydraulic-fracturing geometry and stimulation efficiency. The integrated results are used to optimize the development of the Niobrara Formation within Wattenberg Field. The valuable insight obtained from the integration is used to optimize well spacing, increase reserves recovery, and improve production performance by highlighting intervals with bypassed potential within the Niobrara. The methods used within the case study can be applied to any unconventional reservoir. Introduction The Niobrara Formation is an organic-rich, self-sourcing unit composed of carbonate deposits in the form of alternating layers of chalks and marls. The Niobrara resource play is typically compared with the Eagle Ford Shale because of its high carbonate content. Early production can be dated back to 1976 from vertical wells in Wattenberg Field, although development was not deemed commercially viable at the time (Sonnenberg 2013). The shale play has become more attractive because of horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing, allowing the Niobrara to be developed with overall success in the Denver-Julesburg Basin since 2009. The Niobrara Formation extends into several basins within the central USA involving Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas.
Production from a fractured vertical well will lead to a redistribution of the stress field in formations. If the induced stress changes are sufficiently large to overcome the effect of the initial horizontal-stress deviator, the direction of the minimum horizontal stress can be turned into the direction of the maximum horizontal stress within an elliptical region around the initial fracture, resulting in a stress-reversal region near the wellbore. In such cases, a refracturing treatment can create a refracture that propagates orthogonally to the initial fracture because of the stress reversal. As such, the high-pressure area of the formation can be stimulated by the refracture, and the productivity of the refractured well can be improved. In this work, we develop a semianalytical model to evaluate the performance of a refractured vertical well with an orthogonal refracture. To simulate the well performance throughout the entire production period, we divide the well production into three stages: the first stage, when the well is producing oil with the initial fracture; the second stage, when the well is shut down for the refracturing treatment; and the third stage, when the well is producing oil with both the initial fracture and the refracture. In addition, by discretizing the initial fracture and the refracture into small segments, the conductivity of the fractures can be taken into account, and the geometry of the fracture system can be captured. We use the Green-function method to analytically simulate the reservoir flow and use the finite-difference method to numerically simulate the fracture flow; therefore, a semianalytical model can be constructed by coupling the reservoir-flow equations with the fracture-flow equations. This proposed model is applied to different wellbore and reservoir conditions. The calculated results show that this proposed model is versatile because it can simulate various wellbore constraints, including the conditions of constant bottomhole pressure (BHP), varying BHP, constant production rate, and varying production rate. The permeability anisotropy of the reservoir system, as well as the nonuniform conductivity distribution along the fracture, can also be incorporated into this proposed model. In addition, we demonstrate that this proposed model can be used to simulate other types of refractured vertical wells with minor modifications.
Weijers, Leen (Liberty Oilfield Services) | Wright, Chris (Liberty Oilfield Services) | Mayerhofer, Mike (Liberty Oilfield Services) | Pearson, Mark (Liberty Resources) | Griffin, Larry (Liberty Resources) | Weddle, Paul (Liberty Resources)
Hydraulic fracturing has been a part of oil & gas development in North America for seven decades. Hydraulic fracturing was first conducted in 1947. Commercial operations began in 1949. After over twenty years fracturing took a large step up in the late-1970s with its application to tight gas sand formations. The game changer that brought discussion of hydraulic fracturing to dinner tables, bars and sidelines of soccer games is the recent advances that enable commercial extraction of natural gas and oil directly from shale source rocks. Since the start of shale fracturing in the early-1990s, fracturing technology and the pressure pumping industry's efficiency in delivering fracturing services have changed almost beyond recognition. The result has been the world-changing Shale Revolution.
Through researching industry databases, the authors have compiled an industry-wide review of North American hydraulic fracturing activity dating back to the first work done in the late 1940s. Yearly stage count in the 1950s through the early 1990s was 10,000 – 30,000 stages/year, while recent peak levels show a step change in activity aproaching 500,000 stages/year (
The authors show how the industry achieved a step-change in reducing service delivery cost through innovation and efficiency, allowing sustained economic development of unconventional resources at decreasing breakeven production costs. Technological changes, as assisted by a better understanding through frac diagnostics, integrated modeling and statistical analysis have enabled the large cost reduction to commercially produce a barrel of oil. As a result, shale frac designs have focused on higher intensity completions with tighter stage and cluster spacing, improved diversion through extreme limited entry perforation design and simultaneous and zipper frac'ing, increasing proppant mass per well, utilizing next-generation frac fluids to increase produced water recycling and using cheaper lower-quality proppant. At the same time, the environmental footprint of oil & gas production has been shrinking and will continue to do so as operational changes continue to make our industry a better neighbor, for example through faster well construction utilizing fewer pad locations, development of quiet fleets, greener frac chemistry, frac focus disclosure, etc. Together, oil and gas operators and their service providers have used technology & innovation to improve efficiencies and increase the overall daily pump time per frac crew. However, there is plenty of room for further improvements in technology and efficiency.
We believe this is the first industry database of its kind covering hydraulic fracturing activity in the United States, going back to the 1940s. We hope this paper provides a unique perspective of how our industry has changed through the Shale Revolution.
In some basins, large scale development of unconventional stacked-target plays requires early election of well targeting and spacing. Changes to the initial well construction framework can take years to implement due to lead times for land, permitting, and corporate planning. Over time, as operators wish to fine tune their development plans, completion design flexibility represents a powerful force for optimization. Hydraulic fracturing treatment plans may be adjusted and customized close to the time of investment.
With a practical approach that takes advantage of physics-based modeling and data analysis, we demonstrate how to create a high-confidence, integrated well spacing and completion design strategy for both frontier and mature field development. The Dynamic Stimulated Reservoir Volume (DSRV) workflow forms the backbone of the physics-based approach, constraining simulations against treatment, flow-back, production, and pressure-buildup (PBU) data. Depending on the amount of input data available and mechanisms investigated, one can invoke various levels of rigor in coupling geomechanics and fluid flow – ranging from proxies to full iterative coupling.
To answer spacing and completions questions in the Denver Basin, also known as the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin, we extend this modeling workflow to multi-well, multi-target, and multi-variate space. With proper calibration, we are able generate production performance predictions across the field for a range of subsurface, well spacing, and completion scenarios. Results allow us to co-optimize well spacing and completion size for this multi-layer column. Insights about the impacts of geology and reservoir conditions highlight the potential for design customization across the play. Results are further validated against actual data using an elegant multi-well surveillance technique that better illuminates design space.
Several elements of subsurface characterization potentially impact the interactions among design variables. In particular, reservoir fluid property variations create important effects during injection and production. Also, both data analysis and modeling support a key relationship involving well spacing and the efficient creation of stimulated reservoir volumes. This relationship provides a lever that can be utilized to improve value based on corporate needs and commodity price. We introduce these observations to be further tested in the field and models.