The Saih Rawl gas condensate field has been producing for 20 years from multiple fractured vertical wells covering a very thick gross interval with varying reservoir permeability. After many years of production, the remaining reserves are mainly in the lowest permeability upper units. A pilot program using horizontal multi-frac wells was started in 2015, and five wells were drilled, stimulated and tested over a four-year period. The number of stages per horizontal well ranged from 6 to 14, but in all cases production was much less than expected based on the number of stages and the production from offset vertical wells producing from the same reservoir units with a single fracture. The scope of this paper is to describe the work that was performed to understand the reason for the lower than expected performance of the horizontal wells, how to improve the performance, and the implementation of those ideas in two additional horizontal wells completed in 2020.

The study workflow was to perform an integrated analysis of fracturing, production and well test data, in order to history match all available data with a consistent reservoir description (permeability and fracture properties). Fracturing data included diagnostic injections (breakdown, step-rate test and minifrac) and main fracture treatments, where net pressure matching was performed. After closure analysis (ACA) was not possible in most cases due to low reservoir pressure and absence of downhole gauges. Post-fracture well test and production matching was performed using 3D reservoir simulation models including local grid refinement to capture fracture dimensions and conductivity.

Based on simulation results, the effective propped fracture half-length seen in the post-frac production was extremely small, on the order of tens of meters, in some of the wells. In other wells, the effective fracture half-length was consistent with the created propped half-length, but the fracture conductivity was extremely small (finite conductivity fracture). The problems with the propped fractures appear to be related to a combination of poor proppant pack cleanup, low proppant concentration and small proppant diameter, compounded by low reservoir pressure which has a negative impact on proppant regained permeability after fracturing with crosslinked gel.

Key conclusions from this study are that 1) using the same fracture design in a horizontal well with transverse fractures will not give the same result as in a vertical well in the same reservoir, 2) the effect of depletion on proppant pack cleanup in high temperature tight gas reservoirs appears to be very strong, requiring an adjustment in fracture design and proppant selection to achieve reasonable fracture conductivity, and 3) achieving sufficient effective propped length and height is key to economic production.

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