We present in this paper a reservoir analysis of the application of multilateral well technology in single-target structures. We focus on the correspondence between reservoir type and established multilateral well technologies. We consider a wide range of permeability fields and fluid characteristics, but consider only the depletion or solution-gas drive mechanism. We suggest that the behavior of multilateral wells under other drive mechanisms is fundamentally similar to that under the solution gas-drive mechanism. We conclude that with respect to the application of multilateral well technology, where the objective is attaining favorable production performance, there are essentially two classes of reservoirs – those that require maximum exposure to the wellbore and those that require limited exposure. The traditional unsealed multilateral technology (levels 1-4) is appropriate for the first class, while the recent sealed junction technology (levels 5-6) is appropriate for the second class. We explain precisely why that is so, and what criteria can be used to select the appropriate multilateral level within each reservoir class. We substantiate our conclusion by benchmarking the performance of multilateral wells with horizontal wells. Also we note that the correspondence between reservoir and multilateral technology types seems consistent with the economic feasibility of these solutions.

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