Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are the two key technologies that have made the development of unconventional shale formations economical. Hydraulic fracturing has been the major and relatively inexpensive stimulation method used for enhanced oil and gas recovery in the petroleum industry since 1949. The multi-stage and multicluster per stage fracture treatments in horizontal wellbores create a large stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) that increases both production and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR).

This paper presents a new analytical solution methodology for predicting the behavior of multiple patterned transverse vertical hydraulic fractures intercepting horizontal wellbores. The numerical solution is applicable for finite-conductivity vertical fractures in rectangular shaped reservoirs. The mathematical formulation is based on the method of images with no flow boundaries for symmetrical patterns. An economics procedure is also presented for optimizing transverse fracture spacing and number of fracture stages/clusters to maximize the Net Present Value (NPV) and Discounted Return on Investment (DROI).

The advantages of this approximate analytical production solution for multiple finite-conductivity vertical transverse fractures in horizontal wells and corresponding optimization procedure include: 1) the solution is based on fundamental engineering principles, 2) the production and interference of multiple transverse fractures are predicted to a first-order, and 3) it provides the basis for optimizing fracture and cluster spacing based on NPV and DROI, not just initial production rate. The methodology provides a simple way to predict the production behavior (including interaction) and associated economics of multi-stage/multi-cluster transverse fracture spacing scenarios in horizontal wellbores.

The high initial production (IP) rates from multiple transverse fractures and the late time production decline as a result of fracture interference is discussed. Numerous examples are presented illustrating the method for optimizing (maximizing NPV and DROI) multiple transverse vertical hydraulic fractures in horizontal wellbores.

Application of this technique will help provide the design engineer with a better tool for designing and optimizing multi-stage/multi-cluster transverse hydraulic fractures in horizontal wellbores. The governing production equations and fundamental procedure for NPV and DROI optimization of transverse fractures in a horizontal wellbore are discussed.

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