Determining the optimal number of wells for infill drilling in an unconventional reservoir is a critical endeavor for shale gas operators as many leases are held only by production. To develop a given section, operators must select locations and completion designs for all wells. The planned well placement and completion design will dictate the economic viability and production of the field for the asset's life. The key factors impacting performance in shale gas reservoirs can be broadly divided into two categories: controllable and uncontrollable. Uncontrollable factors include rock properties such as porosity, water saturation, net-to-gross, initial pressure, permeability, natural fractures, and fluid properties. Controllable factors related to producibility that can be optimized include well design, completion design, well placement, surface facilities design, and operating conditions.
Development schemes must consider both engineering and economic risks that include reduction of reservoir permeability due to rock compaction and changes in completion characteristics/efficiency. To determine optimal development, these factors have to be evaluated. This paper outlines the results of well optimization studies initiated from a production performance analysis of over 100 wells in the Haynesville Shale and over 300 wells in the Marcellus Shale. Both analytical and numerical tools were used in the presented workflow. The study results indicate a threshold of reservoir and completion properties below which any well drilled may be uneconomic based on our financial assumptions. Original gas-in-place (OGIP), rock brittleness, and fracture height containment were considered with regard to stimulated reservoir volume, SRV. The effect of natural fractures was also studied. With low gas prices, optimal capital allocation is a critical development component and is an issue that all operators face. The subsequent results presented could save operators myriad hours of simulation effort while potentially saving millions of dollars by eliminating unnecessary wells.