Gas wells in the Marcellus shale are usually completed with a hydraulic fracture treatment in order to create a conductive proppant pack for fluid flow to the wellbore thus effectively increasing well productivity. A novel hydraulic fracture technique which creates a network of open channels within the created fracture has recently been introduced to the oil and gas industry with over 1400 successful treatment stages pumped in other ultra-low permeability, gas-bearing unconventional reservoirs. Channel fracturing boasts higher fracture conductivity and better fracture cleanup amongst its other claims. This paper reviews the applicability of the novel hydraulic fracturing technique in the Marcellus shale and details a case study investigating the possible production gains that may be obtained when channel fracturing is applied in this play.

This feasibility study briefly describes the Channel Hydraulic Fracturing technique and investigates the geophysical properties of the Marcellus shale to see if Channel fracturing is applicable in the play. The methods employed involves analyzing over 160 well logs spread across the Marcellus shale in order to create a grid map of counties and regions within the Marcellus Shale area that meet the criteria required for the applicability of the new technology. The technique is then compared to conventional hydraulic fracturing by reviewing initial production results from a Marcellus well with a conventional hydraulic fracture and performing production analysis and history matching using a production analysis software package. The conventional hydraulic fracture parameters are then replaced with channel fracturing parameters to obtain incremental production estimates.

The results of the study indicate that the Channel Fracturing technique is applicable without in most areas of the Marcellus shale play. The results of the simulation and case study show increased gas production from the new technique over conventional fracturing methods.

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