The Walloons coal measures located in Surat Basin (eastern Australia) is a well-known coal seam gas play that has been under production for several years. The well completion in this play is primarily driven by coal permeability which varies from 1 Darcy or more in regions with significant natural fractures to less than 1md in areas with underdeveloped cleat networks. For an economic development of the latter, fracturing treatment designs that effectively stimulate numerous and often thin coals seams, and enhance inter-seam connectivity, are a clear choice. Fracture stimulation of Surat basin coals however has its own challenges given their unique geologic and geomechanical features that include (a) low net to gross ratio of ~0.1 in nearly 300 m (984.3 ft) of gross interval, (b) on average 60 seams per well ranging from 0.4 m to 3 m in thickness, (c) non-gas bearing and reactive interburden, and (d) stress regimes that vary as a function of depth. To address these challenges, low rate, low viscosity, and high proppant concentration coiled tubing (CT) conveyed pinpoint stimulation methods were introduced basin-wide after successful technology pilots in 2015 (Pandey and Flottmann 2015). This novel stimulation technique led to noticeable improvements in the well performance, but also highlighted the areas that could be improved – especially stage spacing and standoff, perforation strategy, and number of stages, all aimed at maximizing coal coverage during well stimulation.
This paper summarizes the findings from a 6-well multi-stage stimulation pilot aimed at studying fracture geometries to improve standoff efficiency and maximizing coal connectivity amongst various coal seams of Walloons coal package. In the design matrix that targeted shallow (300 to 600 m) gas-bearing coal seams, the stimulation treatments varied in volume, injection rate, proppant concentration, fluid type, perforation spacing, and standoff between adjacent stages. Treatment designs were simulated using a field-data calibrated, log-based stress model. After necessary adjustments in the field, the treatments were pumped down the CT at injection rates ranging from 12 to 16 bbl/min (0.032 to 0.042 m3/s).
Post-stimulation modeling and history-matching using numerical simulators showed the dependence of fracture growth not only on pumping parameters, but also on depth. Shallower stages showed a strong propensity of limited growth which was corroborated by additional field measurements and previous work in the field (Kirk-Burnnand et al. 2015). These and other such observations led to revision of early guidelines on standoff and was considered a major step that now enabled a cost-effective inclusion of additional coal seams in the stimulation program. The learnings from the pilot study were implemented on development wells and can potentially also serve as a template for similar pinpoint completions worldwide.