Gas production from the unconventional Barnett Shale reservoir now exceeds 3 Bcf/d, which is more than 5% of total U.S. dry gas production. Typically Barnett Shale wells exhibit a rapid production decline following the initial hydraulic fracture stimulation treatment, so that, within 5 years, an operator is normally faced with a well producing below its economic threshold. To keep up with current gas demand, operators have moved to an aggressive horizontal drilling and completion program. Additionally, in an effort to increase the productivity of existing wells and book additional reserves at reduced cost, operators have restimulated their older vertical wells, with demonstrable success. This success is providing compelling opportunities to enhance refracture treatment coverage by targeting bypassed and ineffectively stimulated zones in additional vertical wells and even some horizontal wells. Because of the heterogeneous nature of this unconventional gas reservoir, the restimulation of horizontal wells is problematic, and operators have demonstrated limited success using current stimulation techniques.

This paper describes a new fracture diversion technique particularly adapted for horizontal well refracture stimulation. During the treatment, a fracture diversion system (FDS) is used to create a temporary bridge within the active fracture networks. That results in differential pressure increase and causes treatment redirection to understimulated intervals along the lateral. This technique enables both fracture diversion without mechanical intervention and, when enhanced with microseismic monitoring, real-time optimization of the fracturing treatment.

Refracture stimulation case studies are presented in which this novel diversion technique is successfully applied to horizontal Barnett Shale wells. This paper demonstrates how real-time hydraulic fracture monitoring has enabled operators to make informed decisions that influence fracture geometry, increase lateral coverage, and improve gas recovery. To date, more than 20 fracture diversion designs have been successfully placed. The trial wells have included both cemented and uncemented completions, with drilled azimuths selected to encourage either transverse or longitudinal fracture fairway development. With a continuing optimization of the described refracturing technique, these FDS designs and placement strategies have evolved to the point where they are consistently exhibiting fracture diversion as evidenced by movement of microseismic activity and improved lateral coverage.

While this engineered fracture diversion technique is ideally suited for re-fracture stimulations, it is also applicable for stimulation of new wells where the technique enables stimulation of larger wellbore intervals when used in the same fashion as for re-fracture stimulation applications.

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