Creating a reliable, calibrated frac model used to be a long and expensive task in frac optimization. Today, with the proliferation of fracture diagnostics to calibrate models, simple frac dimensions can be calculated from indirect measurements on most North American shale fracs.
Through the US Shale Revolution, fracturing operations have increasingly focused on pumping efficiencies. "Factory mode" operations today often allow little time for what used to be a lengthy optimization process of estimating fracture dimension sensitivity to job design changes for well placement selection and optimization of production economics. While some new fracture diagnostics have been designed to do measurements without interfering with frac operations, the calibrated models that harness these measurements remain cumbersome.
We have developed a practical engineering tool that can extend the use of direct measurements to all shale horizontal well frac jobs. Unlike complex models that require lots of inputs and that are only routinely run on a few stages in a limited fraction of all North American shale wells, this Back-of-the-Envelope (BoE) model can be run effectively on every horizontal well stage. To date, it has been run on almost a quarter million stages. The BoE model provides two main advantages: (1) utilization of average basin diagnostic feedback and model calibration for more realistic results, and (2) augmenting more complex models on a much larger scale through a simpler workflow.
The BoE model incorporates key fundamental processes in elliptical-shaped hydraulic fracture growth, including conservation of mass; limited entry-driven cluster distribution into simultaneously growing equal-sized multiple fractures; and Sneddon width profile with calibrated coupling over the fracture height. The physical model is further constrained by assuming a fixed half-length-to-height ratio from direct observation of hydraulic fracture growth.
The BoE fracture model can be described with a few different rock mechanical fracture design and treatment parameters and ISIP measurements at the end of each fracture treatment stage. A key feature of the BoE model is that direct measurements are directly incorporated as an inherent calibration step. The model is anchored to basin closure stress measurements from DFITs and calibrated with past fracture geometry measurements, for example from Volume-to-First-Response data provided through Sealed Wellbore Pressure Monitoring (SWPM), or from other direct fracture diagnostics.
In our paper, we present the results of this simple model and compare it with more complex fracture modeling efforts and fracture diagnostic results in a few major US shale basins.