Horizontal wells provide the opportunity to initiate multiple transverse fractures and dramatically increase the connection between the wellbore and the hydrocarbon-bearing reservoir. This has allowed the economic development of low permeability reservoirs that cannot be pursued without reservoir stimulation. Our success, however, does not imply that we are optimized.

Recent field results in the Niobrara, Bakken, Viking, Haynesville, Eagle Ford and other reservoirs completed with transverse fractures are yielding answers to many questions, including:

  • Are we achieving acceptable vertical height growth?

  • What adjustments are necessary to accommodate multiphase flow?

  • What fracture conductivity is needed?

  • How many frac stages will provide the optimal economic returns?

  • Are we effectively stimulating each stage?

  • Are precautions necessary to avoid or reduce overflushing of proppant?

  • Will restimulation of these reservoirs be necessary given current completion strategies?

This paper explains the challenges of accommodating multiphase flow in transverse fractures and summarizes theoretical, laboratory, and field results demonstrating the best practices. Evidence is reviewed indicating that fractures fail to sustain hydraulic continuity through many laminations and techniques are suggested that can improve the ability to drain multiple stacked pay intervals with horizontal wells. Updated production results from the Bakken and Eagle Ford should be of benefit to any operator stimulating horizontal wells that produce significant oil, water, or condensate volumes.

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