The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has been credited for much of the success achieved in ultra-low permeability shale reservoirs, making it economically possible to produce natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil. Although thousands of wells have been drilled and completed using these technologies, there are relatively few modeling tools available to the industry designed specifically for these applications, leaving much of the optimization process to trial- and-error techniques that are costly and time-consuming.
A focused effort to develop useful software tools for industry professionals to better design and more reliably predict well performance has resulted in a new generation of hydraulic fracture and reservoir simulation tools built specifically for these complex well geometries and difficult reservoir conditions. These tools have also been designed to provide information that can enable completion engineers to make informed decisions to help ensure the desired results are achieved and well performance maximized.
The workflow is focused on designing stimulation treatments that maximize the stimulated volume of the reservoir around the wellbore and also maximizes the connected fracture area within this volume. This combination can result in increased production rates while also increasing the possible ultimate recovery that can be achieved from a given wellbore, thus having a significant impact on the economic success of a well and an entire asset.
This paper provides details on these new tools and workflows, as well as the results of early trials that have yielded impressive results, even when applied in an established shale field within the US.