Productivity impairment in tight-gas formations is a typical phenomenon for fractured wells. Processes responsible for this behavior are related to the characteristics of the porous media, and are induced as a consequence of the fracturing process. Fracture damage has been discussed in the literature for decades. In almost all cases, effects were considered in isolation. This is often not appropriate since natural effects such as stress dependency, fracture closure, and non-Darcy flow are interdependent. The same applies for the cleanup process where the back production of the loadwater from the leakoff zones can be influenced by mechanical damage caused during the fracturing process, or by capillary forces and the gel residues of unbroken fracturing fluids within the fracture plane.
This study analyzed the most common damage mechanisms by means of both generic and real field data. The latter was taken from German Rotliegend gas wells, which were history-matched and used for the evaluation of their cleanup and longterm production behavior. The results obtained were used to rank the individual processes for their damage potential. In addition to a commercial model, a customized in-house simulator was required in order to capture the specific physics.
Results suggest that the consequences of processes independent of the reservoir conditions are not negligible when compared to the damage induced by the fracturing itself. In particular, in tight-gas, the stress dependency of the reservoir rock and fracture closure both tend to have a significant impact on the longterm productivity. Furthermore, inertial non-Darcy flow can cause much higher production impairment than, for example, hydraulic damage. It also shows that low permeability reservoirs are more affected by non-Darcy flow effects in both the fractures and the reservoir than is generally assumed.