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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)
Abstract 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.
Abstract Unconventional completions in North America have seen a paradigm shift in volumes of proppant pumped since 2014. There is a clear noticeable trend in both oil prices and proppant volumes – thanks to low product and service costs that accompanied the oil price crash in early 2015. As the industry continues to recover, operators are reevaluating completion designs to understand if these proppant volumes are beyond what is optimal. This paper analyzes trends in completion sizes and types across all major unconventional oil and gas plays in the US since 2011 and tracks their impact on well productivity. Completion and production data since 2011 from more than 70,000 horizontal wells in seven major basins (Gulf Coast, Permian, Appalachian, Anadarko, Haynesville, Williston and Denver Julesburg basins) and 11 major oil/gas producing formations were analyzed to examine developments in proppant and fluid volumes. Average concentration of proppant per gallon of fluid pumped was used to understand transitional trends in fracturing fluid types with time. Production performance indicators such as First month, Best 3 or Best 12 months of oil and gas production were mapped against completion volumes to evaluate if there are added economic advantages to pumping larger designs. In general, all major basins have seen progressive improvements in average well performance since 2011, with the Permian Basin showing the highest improvement, increasing from an average first-six-months oil production of 25,000 bbl in 2011 to 75,000 bbl in 2017. The Gulf Coast basin, where the Eagle Ford formation is located, has seen a 6-fold increase in proppant volumes pumped per foot of lateral since 2011 while the Permian and Appalachian basins hit peak proppant volumes in 2015 and 2016 respectively. In Permian and Eagleford wells, higher proppant volumes in general have resulted in better production up to a certain concentration. In Williston and Denver basins, most operators are moving away from gelled fluids, and reduced average proppant concentration per fluid volume pumped shows inclination toward hybrid or slickwater designs. While some of these observations are tied to reservoir quality, proppant volumes have begun to peak as operators have either reached an optimal point or are in the process of reducing volumes. Demand for proppant is expected to nearly double by 2020. As oil prices continue to recover, well AFEs continue to increase, despite multiple efforts to improve capital efficiency. The need for enhanced fracture conductivity and extended half-lengths on EURs are been discussed by combining actual observed production data and sensitivities using calibrated production models. The industry is moving toward large-volume slickwater fracturing operations using smaller proppants, but he operating landscape is expected to see a correction when such designs become less economical.
Abstract Accelerating the learning curve in the development of the Vaca Muerta utilizing lessons learned in North American unconventional resource plays is the focus of this paper. Reducing completion costs while maintaining high productivity has become a key objective in the current low-price environment. Completion diagnostics have been demonstrated to optimize stimulation and completion parameters that have shaped successful field developments. The paper reviews stimulation diagnostic data from wells completed in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, Eagle Ford, Wolfcamp and Niobrara shale formations. Case histories are presented in which proppant and fluid tracers were successfully employed in completion optimization processes. In the examples presented, diagnostic results were used to assess the stimulation of high productivity intervals within a target zone, evaluate various completion methods, and optimize stage and cluster spacing. The diagnostic data were compared with post-frac production rates in an effort to correlate completion changes with well performance. Results presented compare first, engineered perforations versus conventional geometrically spaced perforations to drive up effectiveness in cluster stimulation. Second, new chemistries, such as nanosurfactant, versus conventional chemistries to cut either completion cost or prove their profitability. Third, employing an effective choke management strategy to improve well productivity. Last, as in any stacked pay, determining fracture height growth in order to optimize well density, well spacing, field development and ultimately the recovery of the natural resources. Completion effectiveness is shown to be improved by landing laterals in high productivity target intervals, increasing proppant coverage across the lateral by utilizing the most effective completion methods, optimizing cluster spacing and decreasing the number of stages to reduce completion costs while achieving comparable production rates. Cluster treatment efficiency (CTE), in particular, has become a critical metric when optimizing hydraulic fracturing treatment designs based on current and future well densities. It can be used to rationalize well performance as well as to identify possible candidates for a refrac program. Using completion diagnostics, successful completion techniques were identified that led to production enhancements and cost reductions in prolific plays such as the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale, Eagle Ford, Wolfcamp and Niobrara.
Summary Horizontal drilling and artificial stimulation have made the Cretaceous Niobrara Formation, Denver-Julesburg Basin, a prolific, self-sourced, unconventional reservoir that yields both gas and liquids. As a carbonate-dominated reservoir, pore networks documented in most other unconventional shale reservoirs are not necessarily analogous. In this study pore system characterization was achieved using focused ion-beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) and Avizo Fire™ image segmenting software. We focused on samples from the B chalk, which is the primary landing zone for horizontal wells in the Niobrara. Material was examined from four cores representing thermal maturities ranging from the oil window (Ro≈0.7, GOR ≈ 1,000) to the dry-gas window (Ro≈1.2, GOR >20,000). At the microfacies scale, samples consisted of chalks, marly chalks, chalky marls, and submillimeter laminations of marl in the chalk. Electron microprobe elemental mapping shows that organic macerals are concentrated in the marl interlaminations whereas finely disseminated organic matter is in peloids (particularly those that are black in thin section). Intercrystalline pores dominate all samples and occur primarily between fragments of coccolith debris and recrystallized calcite, and to a lesser degree between clay minerals. Median equivalent circular diameters of intercrystalline pores range from ~100 to 400 nm. Total image porosity averages 3.9% with a range of 1.4% to 10%. Highest porosity is in peloids within marly chalks. Residual hydrocarbon fills many former intercrystalline pores and organic macerals occur in marl lamina. In most cases, residual hydrocarbon-filled pores exceed the amount of open pores, and those filled pores have median equivalent diameters than range from 300 to 900 nm. Organic material exhibits intraparticle "bubble" pores with the abundance of bubble porosity in organics showing no increase with thermal maturity above ~0.7 Ro. The size of hydrocarbon-filled pores is greatest in the most thermally mature well, and greater than the size of open intercrystalline pores in all wells. This suggests pores that were not filled by organic matter underwent continued reduction due to diagenesis after hydrocarbon migration.
Abstract Maximizing well productivity and improving drilling efficiency remains a major challenge while drilling horizontal wells in US-land unconventional shale plays in the last few years. Reducing drilling times and eliminating trips for the curve bottomhole assembly (BHA) requires a motor that can be rotated at high RPM in the vertical section while still achieving buildup rate (BUR) in the curve. The challenges of horizontal well drilling in US land led to the recent introduction of a steerable optimized design motor (ODM) with a short bit-to-bend (BTB) distance. These ODMs achieved higher BUR in the curves than the conventional motors at lower adjustable kick-off (AKO) sub angle. Although the planned dogleg severities (DLS) stayed at the similar level, drilling vertical and curve sections of the horizontal wells in the Niobrara shale unconventional play posed additional challenges: –Rotating the BHA in the vertical section with a high AKO angle –Dealing with formation challenges –Holding the toolface to achieve consistent BUR in the curve –Completing the vertical and curve sections in one run The introduction in 2013 of the latest-generation steerable motors (LGSM) with further reduced short BTB distance design helped the operator overcome these challenges. The new system significantly improved drilling performance with excellent directional control. This paper will discuss the design, testing and results of horizontal wells drilled using the LGSM in the Niobrara unconventional shale play.
Copyright 2013, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) This paper was prepared for presentation at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference held in Denver, Colorado, USA, 12-14 August 2013. The URTeC Technical Program Committee accepted this presentation on the basis of information contained in an abstract submitt ed by the author(s). The contents of this paper have not been reviewed by URTeC and URTeC does not warrant the accuracy, reliability, or timeliness of any information herein. All information is the responsibility of, and, is subject to corrections by the author(s). Any person or entity that relies on any information obtained from this paper does so at their own risk.
The Niobrara Shale in the United States has ramped up into a hot play that could soon bring an explosion of horizontal drilling in Colorado and Wyoming. The combination of horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing is transforming the Niobrara from a target that has been drilled vertically and primarily for gas for nearly 100 years into a liquids-rich play that is capturing considerable attention. Speaking at the 2011 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Denver, John Ford, general manager of Colorado’s Wattenberg field at Anadarko, described the growing Niobrara activity as “really the next big thing.”
That optimism was understandable. In November, Anadarko announced that its leases at Wattenberg may hold more than a billion barrels of recoverable oil and natural gas. The statement noted company drilling success in 11 recent wells at the field, including the Dolph 27-1HZ horizontal well that showed initial production of more than 1,100 B/D of oil and 2.4 MMcf/D of natural gas. These latest wells have given the company confidence that it can drill between 1,200 and 2,700 wells in northeast Colorado, with approximately 160 wells planned for this year. Based on results so far, the company expects ultimate recovery of between 500 million and 1.5 billion bbl of oil, natural gas liquids, and natural gas on an equivalent basis.
Anadarko is not alone. Chesapeake Energy, Noble, Encana, and EOG Resources are among the largest acreage holders and the most active drillers of many companies—including numerous small independents—probing the Niobrara. Majors such as Shell and Marathon Oil have significant acreage.
There are more than 50 operators in or near the Wattenberg field alone. Situated north/northeast of the Denver area, Wattenberg is the largest producing field in the Denver-Julesburg (D-J) Basin and one of the largest onshore oil and gas fields in the US.
Reservoir Rock and Producing Regions
Although the Niobrara is usually referred to as a shale, its reservoir rock consists primarily of limestone or chalk intervals, said Steve Sonnenberg, professor of petroleum geology at Colorado School of Mines in a recent edition of the AAPG Explorer (published by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists). “The formation demonstrates facies changes that range from limestone and chalk in the eastern end to calcareous shale in the middle and eventually transitioning to sandstone farther west,” said Sonnenberg, a past president of AAPG. “Depth and thickness are highly variable.”
The Codell formation is a low permeability, clay rich, late Cretaceous agesandstone within the Wattenberg field of the DJ Basin. Since 1997 over 1500Codell wells have been restimulated. Results on the past 200 refractured Codellwells using a reduced CMG polymer fluid system have yielded incremental monthlyproduction results in excess of 1900 BOE/well or approximately 80% of theoriginal initial production. Success of this program is believed to be thecombination of stringent well selection criteria, high fluid quality controlguidelines and effective operational field practices. It is believed that dueto this recent success in restimulating the Codell, over 4000 additional wellswithin the DJ Basin may be restimulated with economic benefits.
This paper will discuss completion history of the Codell formation and howcriteria from candidate selection to fluid quality may impact the success ofsuch a program.
Records indicate that the first Codell completion in the Wattenberg field ofthe Denver-Julesburg basin occurred in 1955. It was not until the early 1980'sthat the Codell became a major gas play. Since that time thousands of Codellwells have been developed within an area of approximately 100,000,000acres.1 The DJ basin shown in Figure 1 is an asymmetricalbasin just north of Denver, Colorado with the axis of the basin runningparallel to the Front Range uplift.
The Codell, described as Type 2 sandstone by Weimer andSonnenberg2, is a member of the Upper Cretaceous Carlile shale. Itis a bioturbated, reworked fine-grained marine shelf sandstone without acentral bar facies and is laterally continuous across the field area. Figure2 is a stratigraphic sequence of formations bounding the Codell within theDJ Basin. Over the years, many wells have included the Niobrara formation bymeans of separate completions on both the Niobrara and Codell or simultaneouslystimulating both formations with limited entry techniques.3Production from the Niobrara often times has proved to be limited due tonanodarcy matrix permeability. Due to the Niobrara inconsistency, a greatnumber of wells were completed solely in the Codell interval.
These reservoirs were initially over pressured with a pore pressure gradientof ±0.60 psi/ft.4 Pay thickness in the Codell can range from 14 to20 ft. within the central portion of the basin at typical depths of 7000 - 7200feet. Bottom hole temperatures are generally between 230-250° F BHST. It is aclay rich sandstone (15-25% by volume) with pore filling and pore lining mixedlayer illite/smecite clays. Permeability is low (i.e., <0.1 millidarcies),with Density log measured porosity ranging from 8 to 20%.
Aggressive exploration and development of the Codell led to severalexperimental completion techniques throughout the years. Wells were stimulatedwithout regard to geological and lithologic variations. A wide range of fluidtypes and treatment designs were implemented in order to achieve an economicalrate of return.
Original Codell Completions
An obvious contributor to the potential for restimulations is the originalcompletion. The Codell formation has a history that begins in the middle 1950'sand continues today with the continued drilling of acreage within the DJ Basin.Original completion techniques and stimulation fluids utilized have affectedthe results of restimulation programs.
This paper presents geologic and reservoir parameters of the Niobrara Formation In Weld County, Colorado. With the use of computer generated contour maps, It is possible to predict favorable areas of profitable possible to predict favorable areas of profitable Niobrara pay. This predictability Is further enhanced when combined with Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis and historical production analysis.
The SEM results show that the Niobrara In this region is a micrite and not a true chalk. The porosity Is, therefore, lower than would be expected in a chalk.
The thickness of the second bench and the pore volume appear to have a better relationship to known faults In the Niobrara than present day structure. These parameters were analyzed in order to predict areas of parameters were analyzed in order to predict areas of faulting and fracturing, since these areas are known to have the best potential for Niobrara production. Use of these techniques Indicates that the northern portion of the study area has the highest potential portion of the study area has the highest potential for successful Niobrara wells.
Based on the limited amount of production history available in this region and current market oil and gas prices, the average Niobrara well in this region appears to be uneconomic unless supported by additional production from other horizons. However, computer mapping suggests that current production Is not located in the most promising areas. Greater Niobrara production potential may be found In local areas characterized by greater porosity, thicker benches, and proximity to faults.
The development of cost effective predictive techniques for petroleum exploration has been a continuing quest in the petroleum geology industry. This paper presents one such technique found useful in the Weld County, Colorado, Niobrara Formation of the Denver-Julesburg Basin. More specifically, the data were derived from the Second Chalk Bench of the Niobrara. This bench was selected as It constitutes the most continuous bench across the study area and has the highest potential for commercial hydrocarbon development. The geographical study area consists of 56 townships located in Weld County, Colorado, T1-7N, R61-68W (Figure 1).
The purpose of this paper Is to Identify favorable areas for Niobrara hydrocarbon exploration. Seven critical variables from publicly available well logs were input Into a computer and used to generate a series of contour maps showing present day structure, paleostructure, porosity, thickness, and pore-volume. paleostructure, porosity, thickness, and pore-volume. Two further techniques, Scanning Electron Miscroscopy (SEM) analysis of sidewall coresand historical production analysis, were employed to assist In production analysis, were employed to assist In interpreting and predicting potential reserves. Evaluation of the computer maps, SEM data, and historical production data provided the basis for predicting favorable areas for hydrocarbon exploration predicting favorable areas for hydrocarbon exploration in the Niobrara Formation.
The Niobrara Formation was deposited during the Late Cretaceous Period in the Western Interior Seaway. The Niobrara is divided Into two members: the Smoky Hill Chalk and the Fort Hays Limestone. The upper member, the Smoky Hill Chalk, consists of gray to white chalky shale with three locally massive chalk benches, referred to as benches 1, 2, and 3 (from top to bottom). The Fort Hays Limestone, the lower member, is composed of 25 to 85 feet of chalk and shaly chalk interbedded with thin beds of chalky shale (see Figures 2 and 3),
The Niobrara produces gas from low-relief structures on the east flank of the Denver-Julesburg Basin and the north flank of the Las Animas Arch in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska (Smagala, 1981). In Yuma County, Colorado, and portions of the Las Animas Arch, Bench 1 is a high porosity, low permeability reservoir. This differs from the correlative chalk bench in the Weld County Denver-Julesburg Basin which is of lower porosity. This reduced porosity is thought to be due porosity. This reduced porosity is thought to be due to greater depth of burial.
The Niobrara produces biogenic gas In low volumes ranging from 20 to 300 thousand cubic feet of gas per day (MCFGPD) (Lockridge, 1978). Niobrara wells are commonly stimulated with a foam fracture treatment.