Since the late 1980's when Maersk published their work on multiple fracturing of horizontal wells in the Dan Field, the use of transverse multiple fractured horizontal wells has become the completion of choice and become the “industry standard” for unconventional and tight oil and tight gas reservoirs. Today approximately sixty percent of all wells drilled in the United States are drilled horizontally and nearly all of them are multiple fractured. Because a horizontal well adds additional cost and complexity to the drilling, completion, and stimulation of the well we need to fully understand anything that affects the cost and complexity. In other words, we need to understand the affects of the principal stresses, both direction and magnitude, on the drilling completion, and stimulation of these wells. However, little work has been done to address and understand the relationship between the principal stresses and the lateral direction. This paper has as its goal to fundamentally address the question, in what direction should I drill my lateral? Do I drill it in the direction of the maximum horizontal stress (longitudinal) or do I drill it in the direction of the minimum horizontal stress (transverse)? The answer to this question relates directly back to the title of this paper and please "Don't let your land man drive that decision."

This paper focuses on the horizontal well's lateral direction (longitudinal or transverse fracture orientation) and how that direction influences productivity, reserves, and economics of horizontal wells. Optimization studies using a single phase fully three dimensional numeric simulator including convergent non-Darcy flow were used to highlight the importance of lateral direction as a function of reservoir permeability. These studies, conducted for both oil and gas, are used to identify the point on the permeability continuum where longitudinal wells outperform transverse wells. The simulations compare and contrast the transverse multiple fractured horizontal well to longitudinal wells based on the number of fractures and stages. Further, the effects of lateral length, fracture half-length, and fracture conductivity were investigated to see how these parameters affected the decision over lateral direction in both oil and gas reservoirs. Additionally, how does completion style affect the lateral direction? That is, how does an open hole completion compare to a cased hole completion and should the type of completion affect the decision on in what direction the lateral should be drilled?

These simulation results will be used to discuss the various horizontal well completion and stimulation metrics (rate, recovery, and economics) and how the choice of metrics affects the choice of lateral direction. This paper will also show a series of field case studies to illustrate actual field comparisons in both oil and gas reservoirs of longitudinal versus transverse horizontal wells and tie these field examples and results to the numeric simulation study.

This work benefits the petroleum industry by:

  1. Establishing well performance and economic based criteria as a function of permeability for drilling longitudinal or transverse horizontal wells,

  2. Integrating the reservoir objectives and geomechanic limitations into a horizontal well completion and stimulation strategy,

  3. Developing well performance and economic objectives for horizontal well direction (transverse versus longitudinal) and highlighting the incremental benefits of various completion and stimulation strategies.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.