Horizontal cased hole completions have become the accepted practice for completing wells in many shale gas plays. There has been a great deal of focus on how to optimize these completions. One of the most important, yet least discussed, concepts in horizontal shale completion optimization strategies is how to perforate to optimize for both placement efficiency of the hydraulic fracture treatment as well as production.

Some of the perforation scheme characteristics that typically need consideration are as follows:

  • The number of perforation clusters for each fracture stage

  • The optimum number of perforations per cluster

  • The distance between perforation clusters

  • The length of each perforated interval

  • Shot density, phasing and perforation charge type

  • Optimal location to place the clusters

Taking into account all of these considerations and using an optimized perforation strategy can be the difference between placing a fracture as per design or experiencing high treatment pressures throughout the stimulation treatment and prematurely aborting the job part way through. Even more importantly, properly engineered perforations can improve overall production by ensuring an equal fracture treatment through each perforation cluster as well as improving wellbore connectivity to the fracture.

This paper looks at all these outlined aspects through a number of different means including a literature review, the use of simulation tools, and case studies from the Marcellus shale. Ultimately, a strategy for optimized perforations is presented with specific focus on shale gas horizontal wells in the Marcellus with further application to other shale gas plays.

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