This paper discusses how to analyze past performance and predict futureperformance of tight gas wells stimulated by massive hydraulic fracturing (MHF)using finite fracture flow-capacity type curves. The limitations ofconventional pressure transient analysis and other methods of evaluating MHFtreatment are discussed. A set of constant well-rate and wellbore-pressure typecurves is presented.
Because of the deteriorating gas supply situation in the U.S. and theincreasing demand for energy, the current trend is to consider seriously theexploitation and development of low-permeability gas reservoirs. This has beenpossible because of changes in the economic climate and advances in wellstimulation techniques, such as massive hydraulic fracturing (MHF). It nowappears that MHF is a proven technique for developing commercial wells inlow-permeability or "tight" gas formations. As the name implies, MHF isa hydraulic fracturing treatment applied on a massive scale, which may involvethe use of at least 50,000 to 500,000 gal treating fluid and 100,000 to 1million lb proppant. The purpose of MHF is to expose a large surface area ofthe low-permeability formation to flow into the wellbore. A low-permeabilityformation is defined here as one having an in-situ permeability of 0.1 md orless.
Methods for evaluating a conventional (small-volume) fracturing treatmentare available, but the evaluation of an MHF treatment has been a challenge forengineers. To evaluate the success of any type of fracture stimulation, prefracturing rates commonly are compared with postfracturing production rates.These comparisons are valid qualitatively if both pre- and postfracturing ratesare measured under similar conditions (that is, equal production time, samechoke sizes, minimal wellbore effects, etc.). Unfortunately, to evaluate thesuccess of different kinds of fracturing treatments, pre- and postfracturingproduction rates often are measured pre- and postfracturing production ratesoften are measured and compared using not only the same well tested underdissimilar conditions, but also the same kind of comparisons between differentwells that may even have different formation permeabilities. Thus, resultsoften are invalid and may cause misleading conclusions. Moreover, suchcomparisons do not help predict long-term performance. To predict long-termperformance for MHF wells, reliable estimates of fracture length, fracture flowcapacity, and formation permeability are needed.
Pressure transient methods for analyzing wells with small-volume fracturingtreatments are based on the concept of infinite or high fracture flow capacityand are used to determine the effectiveness of a stimulation by estimating thefracture length. Our experience indicates that these methods are not adequatefor analyzing wells with finite flow-capacity fractures. Such methods provideunrealistically short fracture lengths for MHF wells provide unrealisticallyshort fracture lengths for MHF wells with finite flow-capacity fractures.Furthermore, fracture flow capacities cannot be determined.
Includes associated paper SPE 8145, "Type Curves for Evaluation andPerformance Prediction of Low-Permeability Gas Wells Stimulated by MassiveHydraulic Fracturing."