This paper presents design considerations and field trial applications for determining practical dimensions and limits for interdependencies associated with stage length, perforation clusters and limited entry pressures. Recent applications by multiple authors and companies have begun to reverse the decade-long trend of reducing stage length and perforation spacing, in favor of extending stage lengths, to capture free cash flow value for unconventional resource development. Aggressive limited entry has been an enabler for successful extended stage length applications. Multiple authors have advocated "eXtreme Limited Entry" (XLE) applications. We present diagnostics data and applications that challenges the need for XLE and better constrains the necessary amount of limited entry pressures for effective stimulation distribution for resource development across multiple North American Basins.

Data is presented from integrated application of field trials, stimulation distribution diagnostics, and well performance analysis. Field trials and well performance analysis are from the Permian Delaware Basin Wolfcamp. The field trials include both: greater perforation cluster intensities for base design stage lengths; and extended stage lengths of 50% greater than the base designs. Diagnostics are from multiple North American Basins and include discrete treatment pressure diagnostics and optic fiber distributed sensing. Data is presented to quantify the magnitude and variability for components necessary for maintaining active fracture extension for multiple perforation clusters. Components include: fracture breakdown pressures; in-situ stress, net fracture extension pressure, and near wellbore complexity pressure drop.

Data and examples are presented from multiple wells, and resource development areas, to show the variability in measured treatment pressures for different length scale dimensions. This variability is used to determine the amount of limited entry pressure required to maintain fracture extension, dependent on the stage length dimension. Although Aggressive Limited Entry (ALE) is generally required to enable effective stimulation distribution and extended stage lengths in multiple cluster stages, examples are presented that demonstrate XLE is generally not required. We also discuss some of the considerations and observations that limit perforation cluster spacing intensities. Well performance data from the field trials is presented to validate the applications.

This work demonstrates the value of integrated application of field trials, stimulation distribution diagnostics, and well performance analysis to capture free cash flow value from improved completions and stimulation designs. The discussion will include an assessment of future opportunities for further extension of stage length dimensions.

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