This paper describes a comprehensive field study of eight horizontal wells deployed in the stacked Niobrara and Codell reservoirs in the Wattenberg oilfield (Denver-Julesburg basin). The overall goal was to understand the geometry of the hydraulic fractures (propped), producing volume with respect to completions design, target reservoirs, and well spacing. Through this understanding we are able to develop the asset more effectively and economically.

In this study, an unconventional hydraulic fracture model was developed and calibrated against surface and downhole microseismic recordings, "frac hits" in offset vertical wells, chemical tracers, pressure interference testing, diagnostic fracture injection tests (DFITs), and treatment pressure/instantaneous shut-in pressure (ISIP) history matching. The hydraulic fracture geometry and conductivity were simulated using unconventional models populated with a natural discrete fracture network (DFN) defined through outcrop and image log observations along with a rigorous mechanical earth model.

A special unstructured grid that conforms to the shape of the calibrated hydraulic fracture model planes was constructed. This unstructured, fractured reservoir grid was fed into a compositional reservoir simulator that was tuned using pressure dependent permeability, offset vertical well pressure depletion, and relative permeability (among others) to match the production history available to date.

This workflow allowed for complete integration of geological, geomechanical, and production models in a single platform to produce a consistent set of results. This study concludes that 1) Increasing the hydraulic fracture treatment volume beyond a certain point does not significantly enhance the fracture geometry or improve early time well performance; 2) additional wells are needed to access undrained reservoir; 3) existing vertical-well depletion has a significant impact on early time well performance, and; 4) hydraulic fracture height extension allows initial communication between the Niobrara and Codell reservoirs, however this connectivity dissipates during production likely due to the loss of fracture connectivity vertically.

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