Hydraulic fracture design is an example of what is largely a manual process that requires interaction with a number of different software applications to obtain fracture geometry, production constraints, production sensitivity criteria, and NPV scenarios. When the goal is an optimized fracture design, the process is especially onerous, as it requires iterative interactions with reservoir simulators, nodal programs, economics models, drilling-well design systems, and stimulation design tools to arrive at a suitable design.
Previous papers have detailed the benefits that can be derived from the automation of operations, engineering workflows, and production workflows in general. A major service company was able to quickly provide workflow automation benefits to an East Texas field with the aid of its workflow automation software. In the East Texas field, the service company was able to preserve the provided business service, yet change many of the connections with other software applications that were used to deliver the business benefit, as well as the engineering methods used to optimize the design.
The GoM Lower Tertiary Wilcox Sand Field was also deemed a good candidate by a major service company to operational and production workflow automation, given its low PI, high-cost wells, HPHT tech challenges, and production uncertainty. This fracture workflow uses a unique holistic combination of tools, which are coupled in a way as to reflect the actual economic values of various fracture scenarios.
With the Microsoft Upstream Reference Architecture (MURA) initiative, Microsoft, along with several of its E&P partners, prescribes this approach, which focuses on achieving a level of interoperability between software solutions used by the industry.