A Shot in the Dark: How Your Post-Fracture Perforation Imaging can be Misleading and How to Better Understand Cluster Efficiency and Optimize Limited Entry Perforating

Horton, Blake (Ovintiv)


Abstract With recent advances in downhole imaging technology, it has become evident that surface perforation testing does not directly translate to downhole conditions. A total of 279 pre- and 595 post- fracture treatment perforations were imaged in this analysis. Pre-treatment perforation hole size was highly variable, even with oriented equal-entry charges. Because of high pre-fracture treatment variability, it is not recommended to use an average diameter of unstimulated perforations to evaluate cluster efficiency of perforations post-fracture treatment. Ideally, perforations should be individually imaged before and after treatment for direct comparison. However, since pre-treatment imaging is costly, an alternate methodology is presented. The findings in this paper will challenge current understanding of actual pre-treatment hole sizes, their variability, and their implications on cluster efficiency. Cluster efficiency cutoff limits have historically been subjective and promoted a false confidence in the ability of Completions Engineers to extend stage lengths and adjust perforation designs. A more stringent and calculated method of determining cluster efficiency is presented. Utilizing both wireline pumpdown for pre-treatment measurements, and coil tubing for post-treatment measurements, downhole imaging technology was deployed to measure perforations from four separate perforation charge manufacturers for pre- and post- treatment erosional analysis. Additionally, while understanding the strike/slip stress state of the Anadarko basin, perforations were oriented at 90° and 270° (degrees from top of wellbore), parallel to the maximum rock stress, promoting a shorter and less tortuous path to the fracture initiation point. Perforating at 90° and 270° reduced tortuosity and surface treating pressure, promoted a less variable pre-treatment perforation hole size due to its symmetry, and resulted in a significant increase in cluster efficiency verses pervious designs. This project effectively optimized a perforation design utilizing pre- and post- fracture treatment perforation imaging and a thorough understanding of pre-treatment perforation hole size to evaluate the effectiveness of stress-targeted, oriented perforating and its effect on cluster efficiency, tortuosity, and pre-treatment hole size variability. The optimized design resulted in 84%-97% cluster efficiency and reduced surface treating pressure by 770 psi. This workflow can be applied by Completions Engineers to any unconventional basin where plug and perf design is utilized.

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