The Austin Chalk formation has seen several active development booms over the past 35 years due to new technologies. Recently, a program was undertaken to test multistage fracturing technology in the Giddings Austin Chalk field to determine if sufficient additional reserves could be unlocked to spark another development boom. This paper highlights the challenges encountered during the project from the initial reservoir simulation and well candidate selection through system design and installation and treatment design.

The Austin Chalk formation has seen considerable horizontal development across Texas as operators chased areas of concentrated natural fractures. Significant quantities of hydrocarbons are apparently trapped in the tight carbonate matrix between the widely spaced fractures along the proven productive edge of the field. Many of the wells in these areas have poorly drained the Austin Chalk due to limited natural fracturing. Multistage fracturing has the potential to reach the insufficiently drained matrix blocks by isolating portions of formation between the natural fractures.

A total of 16 openhole multistage hydraulic fracturing completion systems have been run in the Giddings Austin Chalk field across four different counties in an effort to increase EUR’s from existing wells and to extend the economic boundaries of the formation.

Simulation work done at the outset of the project pointed towards economic incremental recoveries from multistage hydraulic fracturing. This work also helped validate initial candidate selection. It was found that openhole multistage systems can be run into the Austin Chalk, but it was learned that due to high formation friction factors, careful design work was necessary to ensure that the completion equipment could be run to the desired depth. Results to date have shown that multistage fracturing can increase recovery from existing wells in poorly fractured areas as well as allow for economic development of previously uneconomic fringe areas.

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