With estimates of recoverable reserves at approximately 500 Tcf, the Marcellus Shale has become one of the main unconventional shale targets in the U.S. The Marcellus is part of the Appalachian Basin and underlies 95,000 sq. miles of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Maryland, and West Virginia. The Marcellus is a challenging target due to formation characteristics, making it cost-intensive to develop. In addition, operators working in the Marcellus have had to contend with public opposition to hydraulic fracturing, prompting them to look for technologies to make this process more efficient and less resource intensive.

This paper compares open hole multistage fracturing systems (OHMS) and cemented casing, "plug and perf" (CCPP) completions and presents the evolution of completion methods utilized in the Marcellus Shale. Production results from horizontal wells in two counties completed with OHMS are compared to offset wells completed with the CCPP method. System details, the fracture methods used, as well as the operational efficiencies of OHMS compared to other horizontal completions methods are discussed. In addition, an update on the recent advances in technologies that have been made since the introduction of OHMS to the Marcellus Shale is presented.

Higher cumulative production results at six, 12, and 24 months in both geographic areas of analysis demonstrate the successful application of OHMS systems in the Marcellus Shale. Comparing the two completion methods also highlights the increased efficiency of OHMS systems compared to CCPP. With decreased time and cost requirements, OHMS completions are the clear choice in the Marcellus Shale. Therefore, this paper demonstrates that OHMS technology provides a long-term solution for the life of wells in shale plays. Although the focus is on the Marcellus Shale, principles from this paper can be applied to any unconventional shale reservoir.

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