Hydraulically fractured completions dominate industry perforating activity, particularly in North American land basins. This has led to the development of fracture-optimized perforating systems in recent years. Aside from overarching safety, reliability, and efficiency priorities, the main technical performance attribute of these systems is consistent hole size in the casing, driven by limited entry fracture design considerations. While the industry continues to seek further improvements in hole size consistency, attention is also being directed to the perforations more holistically, from a perspective of maximizing the effectiveness of subsequent hydraulic fracturing and ultimately production operations.
To this end, this paper presents two related activities addressing the development, qualification, and optimization of perf-for-frac systems. The first is a surface testing protocol used to characterize perforating system performance, in particular casing hole size and consistency. The second is a laboratory program, recently conducted to investigate perforating stressed Eagle Ford shale samples at downhole conditions. This program explored the influences of charge size, formation lamination direction, pore fluid, and dynamic underbalance on perforation characteristics. Casing hole size was also assessed.
For the first activity (surface testing), we find that using cement-backed casing can be an important feature to ensure more downhole-realistic results. For the second activity (laboratory program), perforation casing hole sizes for the charges tested were in line with expectations based on existing surface test data, exhibiting negligible pressure dependency. Corresponding penetration depths into the stressed shale samples generally ranged from 3.5-in to 5-in, which is much shallower than might be expected based on surface concrete performance. Dynamic underbalance was found to exhibit some slight effect on the tunnel fill characteristics, while pore system fluid was found to have minimal influence on the results.
An interesting feature of the perforated samples was the complex fracture network at the perforation tips, which appeared "propped" to some extent with charge liner debris. Some of these fractures were formation beds which had delaminated during the shot, a phenomenon observed for perforations both parallel and perpendicular to the laminations.
The implications of these results to the downhole environment continues to be assessed. Of particular interest is the impact these phenomena might have on fracture initiation, formation breakdown, and treatment stages which accompany subsequent hydraulic fracturing pumping operations.