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Flottmann, Thomas (Origin Energy) | Pandey, Vibhas (ConocoPhillips) | Ganpule, Sameer (Origin Energy) | Kirk-Burnnand, Elliot (Origin Energy) | Zadmehr, Massoud (Origin Energy) | Simms, Nick (Origin Energy) | Jenkinson, Jeslie George (Origin Energy) | Renwick-Cooke, Tristan (Origin Energy) | Tarenzi, Marco (Origin Energy) | Mishra, Ashok (ConocoPhillips)
Abstract Walloons Coals of the Surat Basin, Queensland (Australia) contain world class Coal Seam Gas (CSG) plays, where permeability varies from high (>1Darcy), due to Gaussian curvature-related natural fracture connectivity, to low (<1mD) due to unidirectional fracture-systems attributed to regional unidirectional flexure. The low permeability Walloons Coals require stimulation to unlock their gas resources. This contribution describes the design evolution of stimulation concepts in the Surat Basin in context of five key subsurface drivers Coal net to gross: Surat Basin coals contain 30 coal seams with a cumulative thickness of 20-35m in a gross rock column of >300m Permeability of coals requiring stimulation for economic flow rates varies from <1mD - ~30mD Varying stress regimes, both vertically and laterally Ductile rock properties in Walloons coal reservoirs Productivity Index drop (PI drop) can occur when (incompressible) water is replaced by (compressible) gas during coal dewatering Early stimulation treatments in Surat Basin (pre-2010) followed ‘standard’ high rate water/sand designs adapted from the shale industry. However, high treating pressure and rates resulted in several instances of casing shear (Johnson et al. 2003) particularly at depths associated with stress regime transitions. Subsequent designs (2010-12) repeated water fracs albeit including ample diagnostics (Johnson et al 2010; Flottmann et al 2013), showing that water fracs appear to be ineffective in stimulating Walloons Coals. Design optimizations in 2015 (Kirk-Burnnand et al. 2015) based on extensive modeling work (Pandey and Flottmann 2015), identified low rate gel fracs as optimal to stimulate rocks with ‘ductile’ Walloons-specific coal properties. However, treatment rates were limited to optimize height growth, both to connect coals and to avoid height growth into non-reservoir. Initial production data indicated a drop in well productivity in some fracture stimulated coals (Busetti et al. 2017). Consequently, stimulation designs were modified in late 2016 to account for such productivity drops while maximizing the fluid recovery. Early time post stimulation drawdown strategy was also field-tested to mitigate loss of well productivity due to excessive drawdown which could cause partial or full fracture closure (especially near the wellbore region), and lead to loss of communication between reservoir and well. Sub-surface drivers identified in tight Walloons Coals control the effectiveness of any stimulation option deployed. These drivers influence the effectiveness of stimulation in multiple ways. First, these drivers can lead to a sub-optimal connectivity between well and reservoir resulting in poor productivity and marginal recovery. Second, the drivers may influence an operator towards expensive stimulation options which may provide better well to reservoir connectivity but diminish the economic value due to the high costs involved. Hence the inclusion of sub-surface drivers in selecting stimulation design is paramount as demonstrated in this paper.
Abstract One of the keys to successful and environmentally responsible well stimulation programs in coal seam gas development is to establish consistent procedures for the safeguarding, planning and executing activities across multiple wells. The aim of this paper is to show how a novel application of petrophysical program scripting can be used to make the stimulation process more efficient, consistent and compliant across assets with varying requirements. A macro embedded in petrophysical evaluation software applies a series of rules to rank coals by thickness, allocate a series of perforations and stimulation type based upon coal rank and spacing and then produces actionable treatment schedules which are seamlessly implemented in well stimulation operations at well sites. To do this, the macro grades all coals within the well by thickness based upon a cut-off on the density log, with the thickest coal being graded highest. The macro then identifies the top ranked coal and places perforations based on user defined logic, geological information from offset wells, permeability attributes of the target coal layer(s), depth and vertical separation between adjoining coal targets. Based on the stimulation type assigned, a stimulation schedule is generated that includes estimates of fluid volumes, proppant volumes, injection rates, proppant ramp type and stipulates flush conditions (over-flush or under-flush). Coals thicker than a maximum perforation size are perforated in an upper, middle and lower configuration. Most coals are thinner than the maximum allowable perforation interval and so the macro looks up and down the borehole to include thinner coals within a potential perforation window. The system then generates the stimulation schedule as described above. The macro continues to allocate perforations and stimulation schedules for each validated coal interval and sequentially tries to maximise the total target coal interval along the wellbore. Certain environmental constraints are included in the macro logic to maintain local and regional commitments. For example, coal zones in proximity of permeable non-coal layers i.e. interburden are automatically excluded from stimulation. Multiple advantages of this system have been realised including, a) effective QA/QC as outputs can be directly plotted against the well logs giving the user a quick and easy visual check b) actionable instructions that site based teams can execute including exact perforation depths and stimulation schedules c) provide realistic materials and costs estimates that ensure efficient planning and logistics, d) monitor and document any variations between allocated schedule versus actual execution, e) provide estimate of expected net coal connectivity at a well, development package and asset level which feeds into production and recovery forecasts, f) plan future optimisation studies or pilots and g) most importantly offers a consistent, efficient and compliant framework that can be applied across multiple assets, engineering teams and service providers. This paper focuses on capabilities and advantages of using a macro to automate stimulation design allocation for CSG multi-well (>100 wells) assets. Details of individual stimulation designs for Walloons Coal measures are mentioned in other publications (Kirk-Burnnand et al., 2015 and Flottmann et al. 2018) and hence not covered here.
Abstract Modern hydraulic fracture treatments are specifically designed to unlock reserves from particular rock types, especially in unconventional reservoirs. Progressive improvements in fracture design can be critically informed by post stimulation pressure analysis, yet this process is often overlooked. This paper documents the evolution of fracture designs by successively incorporating post-stimulation pressure analyses after major design changes that ultimately led to the design-optimization of fracture treatments in low permeability coals. The coals under context are the Walloons coal measures in Jurassic to Cretaceous aged rocks in the Surat Basin of southeast Queensland, Australia. Significant challenges are faced in stimulating the Walloons coal measures due to their thin-bedded nature, that range from 0.2 to 3.0 m [0.66 to 9.8 ft] in thickness and, which are also inter-bedded with low permeability siltstones, minor sandstones and carbonaceous shales. Net coal thickness is 20 to 40 m [98.43 to 131.23 ft] in a gross sequence of 300 to 400 m [948.3 to 1,312.3 f] thickness. Reservoir complexity is further impacted by lateral continuity variations of coals, which generally have a high Poisson’s ratio (>0.32). In particular where coal reservoirs display low permeability, understanding and implementing reservoir beneficial fracture treatments becomes pivotal to successful well performance. Modification of fracture designs during the fracture campaign included changing key parameters such as fluid types, pump rates, proppant loading and gel concentration. Both, the treatment and the calculated bottom-hole pressures, were evaluated using 3D fracture models, supplemented by an array of diagnostics such as surface tilt-meters, diagnostic fracture injection tests, micro-seismic monitoring and tracer logs as well as log derived stress models. The results of these diagnostics helped shape the design changes implemented throughout the campaign and has influenced designs for future trials also. Ultimately, it was observed that the treatments that were pumped using low gel loadings in conjunction with high proppant concentrations, and at relatively lower rates, resulted in better well performance. This paper presents the design and treatment evaluation process and also provides an insight into the progression of fracture design and subsequent treatments which were successful in overcoming reservoir complexities. The outlined approach can be used to refine hydraulic fracture treatment designs in similar complex reservoirs in Queensland, with worldwide applicability.
Abstract Modern hydraulic fracture treatments rely heavily on the implementation of formation property details such as in-situ stresses and rock mechanical properties, in order to optimize stimulation designs for specific reservoir targets. Log derived strain and strength calibrated in-situ properties provide critical description of stress variations in different lithologies and at varying depths. From a practical standpoint however, most of the hydraulic fracture simulators that are used for fracturing treatment design purposes today can accommodate only a limited portion of a geologic-based rock mechanical property characterization which targets optimal data integration thus resulting in complexity. By using examples from hydraulic fracture stimulations of coals in a complex but well characterized stress environment (Surat Basin, Eastern Australia) we distil out the reservoir rock related input parameters that are determinants of hydraulic fracture designs and identify those that are not immediately used. In order to understand the impact on improving future fracture stimulation designs, the authors present workflows such as pressure history matching of fracture stimulation treatments and the calibration process of key rock mechanical parameters such as Poisson's ratio, Young's modulus, and fracture toughness. The authors also present examples to discuss synergies, discrepancies and gaps that currently exist between ‘geologic’ geomechanical concepts (i.e. variations in the geometry and magnitude of stress tensors and their interaction with pre-existing anisotropies) in contrast to the geomechanical descriptions and concepts that are used and implemented in hydraulic fracturing stimulations. In the absence of a unifying hydraulic fracture design that honors well established geologic complexity, various scenarios that allow assessing the criticality, usefulness and weighting of geologic/mechanical property input parameters that reflect critical reservoir complexity, whilst maintaining applicability to hydraulic fracturing theory, are presented in the paper. Ultimately it remains paramount to constrain as many critical variables as realistically and uniquely possible. Significant emphasis is placed on reservoir-specific pre-job data acquisition and post-job analysis. The approach presented in this paper can be used to refine hydraulic fracture treatment designs in similar complex reservoirs worldwide.
Abstract Fracture growth in layered formations with depth-dependent properties has been a topic of interest amongst researchers because of its critical influence on well performance. This paper revisits some of the existing height-growth models and discusses the evaluation process of a new and modified model developed after incorporating additional constraints.The net-pressure is the primary driver behind fracture propagation and the pressure distribution in the fracture plays an important role in vertical propagation, as it supplies the necessary energy for fracture advancement in the presence of opposing forces. The workflow adopted for this study included developing a preliminary model that solves a system of non-linear equations iteratively to arrive at fracture height versus net pressure mapping. The theoretical results were then compared to those available in the literature. The solution set was then extended to a 100-layer model after incorporating additional constraints using superposition techniques.The predicted outcomes were finally compared to the fracture height observations made in the field on several treatments. A reasonable agreement between model-predicted and observed height was observed when a comparison between the two was made, for most cases.The majority of these treatments were pumped in vertical wells, at low injection rates of up to 8.0 bbl/min (0.021 m/s) where net pressures were intentionally restricted to 250 psi (1.72 MPa) in order to prevent fracture rotation to the horizontal plane.The leak-off was minimal given the low permeability formations. In some cases, however, the pumping parameters and fluid imparted pressure distribution appeared to dominate. Overall, it was apparent that for a slowly advancing fracture front, which is the case in low injection rate treatments, the fracture height could be predicted with reasonable accuracy. This condition could also be met in high rate treatments pumped down multiple perforation clusters such as in horizontal wells, though fracture-height measurement may not be as straightforward as in vertical wells. The model developed under the current study is suitable for vertical wells where fracture treatments are pumped at low injection rates. The solid-mechanics solution that is presented here is independent of pumping parameters and can be readily implemented to assist in selection of critical design parameters prior to the job, with a wide range of applicability worldwide.