The most advanced technique to evaluate different solutions proposed for a field development plan consists of building a numerical model to simulate the production performance of each alternative. Fields covering hundreds of square kilometers frequently require a large number of wells. There are studies and software concerning optimal planning of vertical wells for the development of a field. However, only few studies cover planning a large number of horizontal wells seeking full population on a regular pattern.

One of the criteria for horizontal well planning is selecting the well positions that have the best reservoir properties and certain standoffs from oil/water contact. The wells are then ranked according to their performances. Other criteria include the geometry and spacing of the wells. Placing hundreds of well individually according to these criteria is highly time consuming and can become impossible under time restraints. A method for planning a large number of horizontal wells in a regular pattern in a simulation model significantly reduces the time required for a reservoir production forecast using simulation software. The proposed method is implemented by a computer script and takes into account not only the aforementioned criteria, but also new well requirements concerning existing wells, development area boundaries, and reservoir geological structure features.

Some of the conclusions drawn from a study on this method are (1) the new method saves a significant amount of working hours and avoids human errors, especially when many development scenarios need to be considered; (2) a large reservoir with hundreds of wells may have infinite possible solutions, and this approach has the aim of giving the most significant one; and (3) a horizontal well planning module would be a useful tool for commercial simulation software to ease engineers' tasks.

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