The Montney reservoir is one of the most prolific unconventional multi-stacked dry and liquid-rich gas plays in North America. The type of fracturing method and fluid has a significant impact on water-phase trapping, casing deformation, and well performance in the Montney. Different fracturing methods (plug and perf/plug and perf with ball/ball and seat/single-entry pinpoint) and fluids (slickwater/hybrid/oil-based/energized/foam) have been tested in 4000+ Montney wells to find optimal fracturing method and fluid for different reservoir qualities and fluid windows and to minimize water-phase trapping and casing deformation.

The previous studies reviewing the performance of fracturing methods in Montney do not represent a holistic evaluation of these methods, due to some limitations, including: (1) Using a small sample size, (2) Having a limited scope by focusing on a specific aspect of fracturing (method/fluid), (3) Relying on data analytics approaches that offer limited subsurface insight, and (4) Generating misleading results (e.g., on optimum fracturing method/fluid) through using disparate data that are unstructured and untrustworthy due to significant regional variation in true vertical depth (TVD), geological properties, fluid windows, completed lateral length, fracturing method/fluid/date, and drawdown rate management strategy. The present study eliminates these limitations by rigorously clustering the 4000+ Montney wells based on the TVD, geological properties, fluid window, completed lateral length, fracturing method/fluid/date, and drawdown strategy. This clustering technique allows for isolating the effect of each fracturing method by comparing each well's production (normalized by proppant tonnage, fluid volume, and completed length) to that of its offsets that use different fracturing methods but possess similar geology and fluid window.

With similar TVD and fracturing fluid/date, wells completed with pinpoint fracturing outperform their offsets completed with ball and seat and plug and perf fracturing. However, wells completed with ball and seat and plug and perf methods that outperform their offset pinpoint wells have either: (1) Been fractured 1 to 4 years earlier than pinpoint wells and/or (2) Used energized oil-based fluid, hybrid fluid, and energized slickwater versus slickwater used in pinpoint offsets, suggesting that the water-phase trapping is more severe in these pinpoint wells due to the use of slickwater. Previous studies often favored one specific fracturing method or fluid without highlighting these complex interplays between the type of fracturing method/fluid, completion date (regional depletion), and the reservoir properties and hydrodynamics.

This clustering technique shows how proper data structuring in disparate datasets containing thousands of wells with significant variations in geological properties, fluid windows, fracturing method/fluid, regional depletion, and drawdown strategy permits a consistent well performance comparison across a play by isolating the impact of any given parameter (e.g., fracturing methods, depletion) that is deemed more crucial to fracturing design and field development planning.

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