Seven years ago, some operators in the United States began geo-engineering completions to more efficiently stimulate unconventional horizontal wells. Typically, engineers and geoscientists rely on expensive open-hole logs or the over-simplified use of gamma ray to infer mechanical rock properties along the lateral. Engineers then select treatment stage intervals and place perforation clusters in similarly-stressed, "like rock" to minimize the geomechanical variability. Instead of traditional open-hole logging, this paper discusses geo-engineering applications of drill bit geomechanics.

Drill bit geomechanics is an innovative method for formation evaluation and reservoir characterization. It uses direct, continuous, high-resolution measurements of drilling vibrations recorded downhole. Using earthquake seismology models, one can infer rock properties from the measured drilling vibrations. These rock properties include Poisson's Ratio, Young's Modulus of Elasticity, and the presence of fractures perpendicular to the horizontal well. In this study, the Operator collected drill bit geomechanics data while drilling a new well ~8-34 ft below three existing horizontal wellbores, with over seven years of continuous production. The study well was a 9,500-ft lateral in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. Using drill-bit-geomechanics-derived rock properties, the operator could confidently geo-engineer a completion, accounting for reservoir depletion from the older wells.

The drill bit geomechanics data showed dramatic changes in mechanical properties and fracturing where the study well intersected the older wells’ stimulated reservoir volumes (SRVs). The operator had a general idea of the wells’ SRVs from microseismic data acquired during two wells’ stimulations. Using the drill bit geomechanics data from the study well, the operator could more effectively constrain the drainage ellipses from the sparse microseismic data. The operator geo-engineered a 27-stage completion by combining "like rock" of the same reservoir pressure. Measured Instantaneous Shut-In Pressures (ISIPs) during the completion showed significantly lower ISIPs for the partially-depleted stages closest to the older wells. Thus, combining similarly-pressured stages was critical to the completion's success. Well performance has proven to be excellent for the area, even when compared to wells without depletion from older producing wellbores.

As shown in this case study, drill bit geomechanics is an economic, useful tool to identify depletion and accurately measure rock properties and fractures at a very high resolution.

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