Optimizing horizontal well placement is often not limited to identifying the most favorable reservoir, but also identifying the ideal target window within that reservoir. In unconventional reservoirs, the ideal target window must have both appropriate reservoir quality and the mechanical rock properties conducive to effective hydraulic fracturing. This paper presents two case studies from the Permian Basin. The first study directly compares wireline logs and core data with drilling vibration analysis. Analyzing drill bit vibrations, one can process mechanical rock property data. This process is called drill bit geomechanics. These high-resolution drill-bit-derived data were first calibrated to wireline and core data, then applied to target future landing zones. The second case study compares drill bit geomechanics data across three neighboring 10,000-ft horizontal wells, all of which landed in the same target zone. Based on the drill bit geomechanics data, the three wells showed notable differences in mechanical rock quality. The operator found the three wells’ production responses also differed.

High frequency measurements of drilling-induced vibrations were recorded through several producing Permian reservoirs. In the pilot well, the recording tool was run behind a coring assembly to obtain mechanical data at in-situ pressure and temperature. Elastic stress-strain relationships were used to solve for the stiffness coefficients and determine relative values of mechanical properties (i.e., Young's Modulus (YM) and Poisson's Ratio (PR)). The resulting mechanical data were compared directly to core analysis, wireline dipole sonic logs, and wireline image logs.

In general, the mechanical rock properties derived from drilling vibrations compared well with those from the sonic log and core analysis. One can attribute differences between the datasets to fluid effects and differences in resolution. The drill-bit-derived mechanical properties showed fine-scale changes and thinly-bedded intervals that were not identified by the sonic log. Using sonic measurements to determine in-situ mechanical properties can have non-uniqueness. Analyzing cores also includes challenges of translating exhumed core properties to those of in-situ conditions. Combining the in-situ measurement of mechanical properties from drilling vibrations with the traditional sonic log and core analysis minimized uncertainties. Increased understanding of mechanical properties in the pilot well informed the landing zone target intervals for the horizontal well development plan. Understanding mechanical properties is also critical to effective hydraulic fracture stimulation design and execution. Even within a landing zone, mechanical properties can vary laterally. Measuring and understanding these variations in mechanical properties can improve completions and lead to increased well productivity.

Gathering drill bit geomechanics data provides a lower cost and lower risk method to acquire mechanical rock properties in long, horizontal wellbores. These near-wellbore variations in mechanical rock properties are ideal for use in identifying target landing zones for horizontal wells. One can use the data to create high-resolution, laterally variable fracture simulation and reservoir models. By integrating these data sets with mechanical rock properties recorded while drilling, operators can have significantly higher confidence in choosing a target landing zone and improving completions.

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