Successfully treating each cluster within a hydraulic fracturing stage is a key objective for "plug-n-perf" well completions. Most operating companies would agree that the main underlying desire for a successful completion is related to future production capability. In unconventional reservoirs, propped and conductive hydraulic fractures are the primary completion result that drives production and reserve recovery. When designing a treatment, the spacing of clusters is critical to optimizing production and reserve recovery parameters, and therefore, even proppant distribution across a single stage delivers a well the greatest potential for optimized production performance. Diverting the fracturing fluid and proppant evenly across the clusters in a stage allows the greatest opportunity for each cluster to produce equally and drain the associated reservoir volume. Generating equal, producing fractures across a horizontal wellbore is a difficult problem that operators are still trying to solve.
This work models the fluid and proppant distribution across a field-scale, 250-ft long, horizontal hydraulic fracturing stage, replicating realistic field conditions. By utilizing computational fluid dynamics (CFD), this paper investigates the effected proppant distribution results from a fracturing stage mimicking the presence of both a leaking plug and the impacts of stress shadowing. The proppant concentration throughout the wellbore, along with internal wellbore pressure and velocity, are also reviewed to gain an understanding of the effect of the field conditions. Additionally, this paper illustrates the effect of different proppant "ramping" conditions during the fracturing stage. Proppant ramping schedules can be smooth or sharp when increasing proppant concentration, which alters the proppant concentrations throughout the wellbore and associated perforation clusters. Unanticipated alterations of the proppant concentration within the wellbore can lead to early screenouts. Gaining a better understanding of the proppant distribution and concentration inside the wellbore can lead to improved designs of hydraulic fracturing completions.