A considerable amount of gas is currently produced from unconventional Mississippian organic-rich shale gas fields such as the Barnett, the Fayetteville or the Bakken formations. Several tight-gas sand formations (e.g., Bossier, Cotton Valley, Lobo, Vicksburg, etc.) also provide valuable resources to be exploited.

These formations are extremely low porosity and permeability reservoirs. They must be effectively and efficiently hydraulically fracture stimulated to produce at commercially economic production rates. Understanding the location and geometry of the created fractures and the area of pay affected by the fracture treatment is key to maximizing the value of the completion and reservoir management program.

Technology has progressed to the point that microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracture stimulation can efficiently provide extensive diagnostic information on fracture development and geometry. Furthermore, an acquisition system coupled to a real-time processing software linked to a fit-for-purpose visualization package enables true real-time microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracture treatments.

Firstly, this paper briefly discusses critical elements of a typical microseismic monitoring system including both hardware (e.g., quality of the downhole geophones, coupling to formation) and processing (e.g., velocity modeling, anisotropy).

Secondly, we highlight some of the issues associated with manual picking of microseismic events and discuss an automatic processing technique that enables real-time determination of microseismic event locations.

Thirdly, we discuss the value of real-time microseismic monitoring and the benefits it represents as an additional tool available to the stimulation engineer fracture analysis (e.g., hydraulic fracture containment, stage overlapping).

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