Shale gas is becoming increasingly important globally. The nature of these reservoirs pose special considerations in reserves estimation. What follows was written in 2001 and needs to be updated based on current experience. Nonetheless, some of the considerations mentioned remain appropriate. As reported in mid-2000, natural gas produced from shale in the US has grown to be approximately 1.6% (0.3 Tcf annually) of total gas production.
Steam generation for the purposes of thermal recovery includes facilities to treat the water (produced water or fresh water), generate the steam, and transport it to the injection wells. A steamflood uses high-quality steam injected into an oil reservoir. The quality of steam is defined as the weight percent of steam in the vapor phase to the total weight of steam. The higher the steam quality, the more heat is carried by this steam. High-quality steam provides heat to reduce oil viscosity, which mobilizes and sweeps the crude to the producing wells.
A useful first step in the characterization of any new coal area is to compare its characteristics with those of successful CBM projects. Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of several successful projects in the US and includes parameters related to reservoir properties, gas production, gas resources, and economics. The table shows that successful projects have many similarities, including high permeabilities and high gas resource concentration; however, the table does not include aspects such as government incentives or high-value markets, which could elevate a marginal project to commercial status.
The process of drilling and completing coalbed methane (CBM) wells is similar to wells in conventional reservoirs. Coring, however, can pose special challenges. The first step in creating a drilling program for a CBM well involves gathering information about existing wells in a given area. After these data are gathered and analyzed, a preliminary drilling and completion prognosis can be drafted with the input of field operations personnel. An important aspect in drilling frontier or appraisal wells is to keep the drilling procedures relatively simple.
The Prudhoe Bay field, located on the North Slope of Alaska, is the largest oil and gas field in North America. The main Permo-Triassic reservoir is a thick deltaic high-quality sandstone deposit about 500 ft thick with porosities of 15 to 30% BV and permeabilities ranging from 50 to 3,000 md. The field contains 20 109 bbl of oil overlain by a 35 Tcf gas cap. Under much of the oil column area, there is a 20- to 60-ft-thick tar mat located above the oil-water contact (OWC).
The amount of trapped oil in hydrocarbon rich shale reservoirs recoverable through Enhanced Oil Recovery methods such as low salinity water flooding has been an ongoing investigation in the oil and gas industry. Reservoir shales typically have relatively lower amounts of swelling clays and in theory, can be exposed to a higher chemical potential difference between the native and injected fluid salinity before detrimental permeability reduction is experienced through the volumetric expansion of swelling clays. This fluid flux into the pore spaces of the rock matrix acting as a semi permeable membrane is significant enough to promote additional recovery from the extremely low permeability rock. The main goal of this paper is to determine how osmosis pressure build up within the matrix affects geomechanical behavior and hydrocarbon fluid flow. In this study we investigate Pierre shale samples with trace amount of organic content and high clay content as an initial step to fully understanding how the presence of organic content affects the membrane efficiency for EOR applications in shales using low salinity fluid injection. The same concept is also valid when slickwater is utilized as fracturing fluid as majority of the shale reservoirs contain very high salinity native reservoir fluid that will create large salinity contrast to the injected slickwater salinity.
The organic-rich reservoir shales typically have a TOC content of approximately 5 wt% or higher with TOC occupying part of the bulk matrix otherwise to be filled up by clays and other minerals. With less clay within the rock structure, the amount of associated clay swelling arising from rock fluid interaction will be limited. The overall drive of water into the matrix brings added stress to the pore fluid known as osmotic pressure acting on the matrix that also creates an imbalance in the stress state. The native formation fluid with salinity of 60,000 ppm NaCl has been used while 1,000 ppm NaCl brine is utilized to simulate the low salinity injection fluid under triaxial stress conditions in this phase of the study reported here. A strong correlation is obtained between the osmotic efficiency and effective stress exerted on the shale formation. The triaxial tests conducted in pursuit of simulating stress alteration under the osmotic pressure conditions and elevated pore pressure penetration tests indicated that the occurrence of swelling directly impact the formation permeability. These structural changes observed in our experimental results are comparable to field case studies.
Travers, Patrick (Dolan Integration Group) | Burke, Ben (HighPoint Resources) | Rowe, Aryn (HighPoint Resources) | Hodgetts, Stephen (Dolan Integration Group) | Dolan, Michael (Dolan Integration Group)
Scope: The management, treatment and disposal of hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids and produced water presents a major challenge to operators. Though the volumes of water are tracked closely during operations, the sources of that water are not well understood. The objective of this study is to apply a cost effective and proven technique, stable isotope analysis, along with an extensive sampling program (n>1,500 samples) to describe the contributions of variable water sources through completions, flowback and the production lifecycle of multiple horizontal, hydraulically fractured wells in the Denver Basin, Colorado.
Methods: The water stable isotopes of hydrogen (1H and 2H) and oxygen (16O and 18O) are conservative tracers and particularly advantageous because they occur naturally in these systems and rely on well-established scientific and analytical techniques. Sample collection is simple and does not require specialized equipment or operational downtime. 80 horizontal, hydraulically fractured wells completed in the Cretaceous Niobrara or Codell Formations were selected for this study. More than 1,500 samples were collected and analyzed in total, including: baseline samples of the source water used to stimulate the well, time series samples collected at daily or semi-daily intervals during the early weeks of flowback, and samples collected several months after the wells were brought on production. Samples of produced water were also collected from legacy wells in the field as well as offset wells being monitored for frac hits during completions.
Results: Samples of the near surface and shallow aquifer source water collected prior to hydraulic fracturing fell on or near the global meteoric water line (GMWL) as defined by Craig (1961). This isotopic signature is expected for modern water in aquifers charged by precipitation. In contrast, samples collected during flowback and production were significantly enriched in 2H and 18O. Furthermore, the magnitude of the isotopic difference between the source and flowback water increased with time until equilibrating after several months. This equilibrated composition is consistent for Niobrara and Codell wells in the field, as well as legacy wells sampled and consequently is hypothesized to be indicative of native formation water. The study did find exceptions, particularly with wells known to be connected to major fault or fracture networks. These samples deviated from typical formation water signatures, potentially indicating the migration of deeper sourced fluids or the vertical mixing of shallower fluids with Cretaceous waters.
Significance: The scale of this study is unique in the literature and provides novel and comprehensive insight into the dynamics of flowback and the sources of produced water in the Denver Basin. This study demonstrates that these data can clearly differentiate water injected during stimulation from native formation waters, as well as track the magnitude and duration of well cleanup. It can also identify wells that may be producing water with a unique composition due to fluid migration through faults or fracture networks or due to nearby well communication.