Through near 3000 horizontal producing wells on University Lands in the Permian Basin, we have performed a series of case studies to systematically investigate the most critical parameters to maximize well performance and the value of field development. In addition to summarizing multiple study results, the paper concludes and elaborates that the effective cluster spacing is the most critical parameter that we may be able to control and can influence the most in the unconventional reservoir development.

The paper first shows three observation cases of perforation cluster spacings and their corresponding well performance. To understand why the effective cluster spacing is so vital to well performance, we then illustrate the fundamental theory to understand the pressure propagation timing and depletion patterns in different reservoirs. We compare the mechanistic modeling results of pressure depletion and corresponding recovery efficiencies with different effective cluster spacings by multiple modeling approaches, including single-porosity model, and dual-porosity model, which has validated our case study results and is very insightful for us to optimize perforation cluster spacings.

We then discuss the possible reasons of often-observed well interference. With a large data sample, the paper illustrates the good correlation between well performance and completion effectiveness. The paper presents the EUR and NPV evaluation results of different field development case histories, such as between tight cluster spacing and wide cluster spacing. We will also briefly discuss the current technologies and practices to improve cluster efficiency in the completion process.

Based upon the multiple case studies, theory investigation, and rigorous modeling, we have concluded that the effective cluster spacing is the most critical factor to influence well performance and the field development value.

The workflow illustrated in the paper can be used for operators to systematically optimize their cluster spacings as well as field development plans. To maximize the value of developing unconventional reservoirs, it is vital to optimize cluster spacing and cost-effectively achieve tighter effective cluster spacing.

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