Analysis of long-term linear flow periods associated with shale gas production has received much attention in recent literature as a means of obtaining information about stimulation efficiency. However, the most popular methods for analysis (ex. square-root of time plot) can lead to incorrect characterization. Nobakht and Clarkson (2011a) demonstrated that the square root-time plot may not be a straight line for constant gas rate production linear flow and the non-linear shape may lead to incorrect flow regime identification. The square root-time plot is however a straight line for constant flowing pressure (Nobakht and Clarkson, 2011b). Ibrahim and Wattenbarger (2005; 2006) and Nobakht and Clarkson (2011b) showed that using the slope of square root-time plot, for constant flowing pressure constraint, leads to an overestimation of fracture half-length. Additional important considerations for shale gas analysis are non-Darcy flow and non-static reservoir properties. Clarkson et al. (2011) demonstrated that ignoring gas slippage effects, thought to be important in ultra-low permeability reservoirs, can cause errors in reservoir characterization. They incorporated slippage into pseudo-variables for production data analysis, as has been done with non-static permeability (Thompson et al., 2010). Finally, Nobakht et al. (2011) extended the methodology proposed by Nobakht and Clarkson (2011b) to properly analyze linear flow in the presence of slippage and desorption.

The purpose of the current work is to evaluate the current methods for analyzing linear flow in shale gas reservoirs, and establish which method is the most accurate for reservoir characterization. First, recent studies addressing linear flow under constant flowing pressure and constant gas rate production are briefly reviewed. Then, a comparison among the above-mentioned methods for calculating fracture half-length or contacted matrix surface area is made. It is shown that Nobakht et al. (2011) method yields the fracture half-lengths that best match the expected values for constant flowing pressure. Finally, we present a method for analyzing linear flow for real production data, where neither flowing pressure nor gas rate is constant. The method is validated using three numerically-simulated cases. It is found that this method works well for the three cases provided.

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