Summary

Hydraulic‐fracturing treatments in shale infill wells are often impacted by existing parent‐well depletion and asymmetrical fracture growth. These phenomena can result in excessive load‐water production, deposition of proppant and deformation of casing in the parent well, and unbalanced stimulation of infill wells. This study determines the effectiveness of particulate materials (i.e., far‐field diverting agents) for mitigating the above negative outcomes by bridging near the extremities of dominant fracture wings.

Fracture propagation was modeled to characterize the width profile at fracture extremities in a depleted‐stress environment. A slotted‐disk device was used to evaluate and optimize particulate blends for bridging slots representative of width near the fracture tip. Rheological tests replicating the downhole environment were used to formulate a system for transporting the diverting materials. Statistical analysis of 511 fracture hits at 30 parent wells was performed on key treatment indicators by the category of diverter type and post‐hit parent‐well condition. Production trends of the influenced wells were compared to area‐specific type curves and offset wells without diverter trials.

On the basis of the simulation and testing results, two types of high‐graded far‐field diverter systems were field‐tested in a shale play: dissolvable, extremely fine particulate mixed with a 100‐mesh sand, and mixtures of a nominal 325‐mesh silica flour and a 100‐mesh sand. Proppant dust collected at the fracturing site was also evaluated for replacing commercial silica flour. High‐graded blends of the above diverting systems demonstrated superior fracture‐hit and productivity metrics as compared to the base case of not applying far‐field diverters. The silica flour and 100‐mesh‐sand mixture performed on a par with the significantly more expensive blend of dissolvable fine particulate and 100‐mesh sand. Borate‐crosslinked‐guar gel was an effective carrying fluid for transporting diverting materials to the fracture extremities.

Statistical analysis of fracture‐hit events shows that the application of far‐field diverters did not reduce the magnitude of pressure buildups during fracture hits; however, it significantly increases the post‐hit pressure‐falloff rate at the parent wells. On the basis of the area‐specific type curves, pumping far‐field diverters increased the P50 estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) by approximately 6% compared with the base cases of not applying diverters. For all the wells impacted by far‐field diverters, the infill wells saw larger benefits with an increment of P50 EUR by approximately 7% compared with the parent wells.

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