Many shale gas reservoirs have been previously thought of as source rocks, but the industry now finds these source rocks still contain large volumes of natural gas and liquids that can be produced using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. However, one of the most uncertain aspects of shale gas development is our ability to accurately forecast gas resources and shale gas development economics. The uncertainty of the problem begs for a probabilistic solution.
The objective of our work was to develop the data sets, methodology and tools to determine values of original gas in place (OGIP), technically recoverable resources (TRR), recovery factor (RF) and economic viability in highly uncertain and risky shale gas reservoirs. Existing approaches for determining values of TRR, such as the use of decline curves or even volumetric analyses, may not be reliableduring early time because there may not be enough production history for decline curves to work well or the uncertainty in the reservoir properties may be too large for volumetric analyses to be useful.
To achieve our research objective, we developed a computer program, Unconventional Gas Resource Assessment System (UGRAS). In the program, we integrated Monte Carlo technique with an analytical reservoir simulator to estimate the original volume in place, predict production performance and estimate the fraction of TRR that are economically recoverable resources (ERR) for a variety of economic situations. We applied UGRAS to dry gas wells in the Barnett Shale and the Eagle Ford shale to determine the probabilistic distribution of their resource potential and economic viability. Based on our assumptions, the Eagle Ford shale in the dry gas portion of the play has more technically recoverable resources than the Barnett shale. However, the Eagle Ford shale is currently not as profitable as the Barnett shale because of the higher drilling costs in the Eagle Ford dry gas window.
We anticipate that the tools and methodologies developed in this work will be applicable to any shale gas reservoirs that have sufficient data available. These tools should ultimately be able to allow determination of technically and economically recoverable resources from shale gas reservoirs globally.