Unlike many unconventional resources that demonstrate a high level of heterogeneity, conventional tight gas formations often perform consistently according to reservoir quality and the applied completion technology. Technical review over a long period may reveal the proper correlation between reservoir quality, completion technology, and well performance. For many parts of the world where conventional tight gas resources still dominate, the learnings from a review can be adapted to improve the performance of reservoirs with similar features.

South Sulige Operating Company (SSOC), a joint venture between PetroChina and Total, has been operating in the Ordos basin for tight gas since 2011. The reservoir is known to have low porosity, low permeability, and low reservoir pressure, and requires multistage completion and fracturing to achieve economic production.

Over the last 8 years, there has been a clear technical evolution in South Sulige field, as a better understanding of the reservoir, improvement of the completion deployment, optimized fracturing design, and upgraded flowback strategy have led to the continuous improvement of results in this field. Pad drilling of deviated boreholes, multistage completions with sliding sleeve systems, hybrid gel-fracturing, and immediate flowback practices, gradually proved to be the most effective way to deliver the reservoir's potential.

Using the absolute open-flow (AOF) during testing phase for comparative assessment from South Sulige field, we can see that in 2012 this number was 126 thousand std m3/d in 2012, and by 2018 this number had increased to 304 thousand std m3/d, representing a 143% incremental increase. Thus, technical evolution has been proved to bring production improvement over time. Currently, South Sulige field not only outperforms offset blocks but also remains the top performer among the fields in the Ordos basin. The drilling and completion practices from SSOC may be well suited to similar reservoirs and fields in the future.

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