Water invasion, associated with hydraulic fracturing, often causes hydrocarbon-mobility hindrance, known as water blocking. The effect on productivity is largely dependent on saturation profiles inside fractures and formation matrix. Enhancement to hydrocarbon recovery has been reported in some field cases after shutting in wells for long time periods. Here we conduct numerical-simulation studies to investigate the effect of well shut-in on initial productivity and long-term recovery.

We replicate post-fracturing conditions with an extensive fracture network that intermeshes with formation matrix. The models are designed using either logarithmically spaced, locally refined grid or embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM). Starting with varying initial fluid distributions, we compare productivity and recovery of two cases: one that does not start production until after 32 days of shut-in, and another that starts immediately without soaking. For the initial conditions that favor shut-in, we carry out case studies in attempt to find the ideal shut-in conditions for maximum recovery improvement.

Results confirm improvement in early productivity after shut-in for all the considered initial fluid-distribution cases. The majority of cases exhibit net gain in total oil recovery. We report improvement in recovery of as much as 5%, owing to spontaneous imbibition. Imbibition of the injected water into formation matrix causes fluid redistribution and favored mobility for the non-wetting phase, and hence enhanced hydrocarbon productivity. The simulations take into account spontaneous imbibition and gravity segregation, but do not consider geo-mechanical forces, water adsorption or chemical reactions. When capillary forces are neglected, well productivity and recovery decrease, even when the well is not shut in. Such observations underline imbibition counter-current flow as an important production mechanism that should not be neglected in shale-oil-reservoir simulations.

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