Multistage hydraulically fractured horizontal wells provide an effective means to exploit unconventional reservoirs. The current industry practice in the interpretation of field response often uses empirical decline‐curve analysis or pressure‐transient analysis/rate‐transient analysis (PTA/RTA) for characterization of these reservoirs and fractures. These analytical tools depend on simplifying assumptions and do not provide a detailed description of the evolving reservoir‐drainage volume accessed from a well. Understanding of the transient‐drainage volume is essential for unconventional‐reservoir and fracture assessment and optimization.
In our previous study (Yang et al. 2015), we developed a “data‐driven” methodology for the production rate and pressure analysis of shale‐gas and shale‐oil reservoirs. There are no underlying assumptions of fracture geometry, reservoir homogeneity, and flow regimes in the method proposed in our previous study. This approach depends on the high‐frequency asymptotic solution of the diffusivity equation in heterogeneous reservoirs. It allows us to determine the well‐drainage volume and the instantaneous recovery ratio (IRR), which is the ratio of the produced volume to the drainage volume, directly from the production data. In addition, a new w(τ) plot has been proposed to provide better insight into the depletion mechanisms and the fracture geometry. w(τ) is the derivative of pore volume with respect to τ.
In this paper, we build upon our previous approach to propose a novel diagnostic tool for the interpretation of the characteristics of (potentially) complex fracture systems and drainage volume. We have used the w(τ) and IRR plots for the identification of characteristic signatures that imply complex fracture geometry, formation linear flow, partial reservoir completions, and fracture‐interference/compaction effects during production. The w(τ) analysis gives us the fracture surface area and formation diffusivity, while the IRR analysis provides additional information on fracture conductivity. In addition, quantitative analysis is conducted using the novel w(τ) plot to interpret fracture‐interference time, formation permeability, total fracture surface area, and stimulated reservoir volume (SRV).
The major advantages of this current approach are the model‐free analysis without assuming planar fractures, homogeneous formation properties, and specific flow regimes. In addition, the w(τ) plot captures high‐resolution flow patterns not observed in traditional PTA/RTA analysis. The analysis leads to a simple and intuitive understanding of the transient‐drainage volume and fracture conductivity. The results of the analysis are useful for hydraulic‐fracturing‐design optimization and matrix‐ and fracture‐parameter estimation.