Inconsistent production performance from wells completed in similar pay zones has been observed when shale formations are exploited through horizontal wells. Ineffective completion practices, fracture design, and reservoir heterogeneity have generally been blamed for the variability in the performance. Limited importance has been attached to drilling quality and well trajectory placement in the current approaches by the operators. The objective of this study is to demonstrate an engineered lateral landing approach for improved long-term productivity in the unconventional reservoirs.

Coupling the reservoir model to the wellbore and accounting for the transient flow behavior are important for improving deliverability in horizontal wells. The study in this paper encompasses a field case study of a geocellular and geomechanical earth model in the Permian basin, which involves hydraulic fracturing modeling, reservoir simulation, fluid flowback, and transient wellbore flow modeling. Pressure losses accounted for in the reservoir, in the near-wellbore region, and in the wellbore profile are modeled and calibrated with bottomhole and surface gauge measurements. Complex hydraulic fracture geometry and numerical reservoir simulation are used to characterize the pressure losses in the reservoir. Transient wellbore fluid flow considerations are used to evaluate the pressure losses in the wellbore.

Based on the fracturing fluid type, the conductivity profile of the hydraulic fractures, connection to the wellbore, and coverage of the pay zone are important criteria in considering the landing location for wells in unconventional reservoirs. However, having the most effective hydraulic fracture design is not enough to decide the well trajectory. Mitigating liquid loading, fluid flowback, proppant settling, and cross-flow of reservoir fluid helps to diagnose the true production potential. Therefore, transient flow models were coupled to the reservoir and fracture models to design a more-effective well trajectory.

The study demonstrates the need to couple the wellbore model to the reservoir simulation and hydraulic fracturing model in shale formations to optimize well landing, trajectory profile, and long-term productivity.

The methodology provides the first integrated data workflow for well drilling and trajectory planning in unconventional reservoirs that is generated from the perspective of reservoir potential and deliverability. Although variances exist in completion effectiveness due to reservoir heterogeneity, applying the robust modeling workflow as discussed in this study would help deliver consistent results that can be used in field management and EUR estimates across various shale basins.

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