Amongst different options of hydraulic fracture geometry detection or measurement, microseismic monitoring is a commonly used method to reveal the hydraulic fracture geometry in three-dimensional space. Microseismic monitoring typically requires one or several monitoring wells within an effective range from the treatment well, in which the geophones are set to detect the microseismic events occurring during or after the treatment. In the past, most of the monitoring wells have been vertical wells. We present several recent case studies in which both the treatment and monitoring wells were horizontal wells, which produced some unique and interesting observations beyond the initial expectations.
One of the prerequisites of a proper microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracturing treatment is to place the geophone in the proper position because a long distance between the actual fracturing events and the geophone may result in signal deterioration, which influences the processing and increases the uncertainty. This problem is more severe if the treatment well is a horizontal well because the distance from the geophone to the microseismic events varies between stages. One of the methods to solve this issue is to monitor the microseismic events in a horizontal offset well. As horizontal wells are often batched drilled in clusters for tight or unconventional resource nowadays, the availability of the monitoring well is less of a problem, and the constant distance from the monitoring well to the treatment well may help to generate better data quality and more accurate interpretation result.
We implemented horizontal well monitoring in two difference cases between 2018 and 2019. For case A, one horizontal monitoring well was used to monitor 54 fracturing stages in three offset wells, and for case B, we monitored 24 fracturing stages in one offset well. In both cases, the geophone arrays were shifted in multiple positions to fit the distance requirements, and both cases generate satisfying interpretation results.
The microseismic results from the two cases showed less uncertainty and better precision of microseismic events after processing, as we expected. What is surprising is this type of monitoring showed a unique physical phenomenon a couple of times, which is a casing background noise indicating excessive fracturing extension over a long distance. This phenomenon was captured in both cases, even with small injection rate and fluid volumes, which can be important information for us to better understand the dynamics of fracture propagation in such geomechanical environment and help to set a new guideline and design reference in the same region.