To investigate interwell interference in shale plays, a state-of-the-art modeling workflow was applied to a synthetic case based on known Eagle Ford shale geophysics and completion/development practices. A multidisciplinary approach was successfully rationalized and implemented to capture 3D formation properties, hydraulic fracture propagation and interaction with a discrete fracture network (DFN), reservoir production/depletion, and evolution of magnitude and azimuth of in-situ stresses using a 3D finite-element model.

The integrated workflow begins with a geocellular model constructed using 3D seismic data, publicly available stratigraphic correlations from offset vertical pilot wells, and openhole well log data. The 3D seismic data were also used to characterize the spatial variability of natural fracture intensity and orientation to build the DFN model. A recently developed complex fracture model was used to simulate the hydraulic fracture network created with typical Eagle Ford pumping schedules. The initial production/depletion of the primary well was simulated using a state-of-the-art unstructured-grid reservoir simulator and known Eagle Ford shale pressure/volume/temperature (PVT) data, relative permeability curves, and pressure-dependent fracture conductivity. The simulated 3D reservoir pressure field was then imported into a geomechanical finite-element model to determine the spatial/temporal evolution of magnitude and azimuth of the in-situ stresses.

Importing the simulated pressure field into the geomechanical model proved to be a critical step that revealed a significant coupling between the simulated depletion caused by the primary well and the morphology of the simulated fractures within the adjacent infill well. The modeling workflow can be used to assess the effect of interwell interferences that may occur in a shale field development, such as fracture hits on adjacent wells, sudden productivity losses, and drastic pressure/rate declines. The workflow addresses the complex challenges in field-scale development of shale prospects, including infilling and refracturing programs.

The fundamental importance of this work is the ability to model pressure depletion and associated stress properties with respect to time (time between production of the primary well and fracturing of the infill well). The complex interaction between stress reduction, stress anisotropy, and stress reorientation with the DFN will determine if newly created fractures propagate toward the parent well or deflect away. The technique should be implemented in general development strategies, including the optimization of infilling and refracturing programs, child well lateral spacing, and control of fracture propagation to minimize undesired fracture hits or other interferences.

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