The channel hydraulic fracturing technique was recently introduced to the oil and gas industry as an alternative to the conventional hydraulic fracturing methodology. Channel fracturing involves the creation of a network of open channels or flow paths within the stimulated fracture volume, enabling the increased flow of hydrocarbons through the channels and into the wellbore. This paper investigates the applicability of this novel technique in the Vaca Muerta shale and presents a case history evaluating the potential production benefits of this methodology.

Starting with a calibrated geomechanical model, an index profile was created using the ratio between the young's modulus and closure stress to determine if channel fracturing is applicable in the Vaca Muerta. The technique is compared to conventional hydraulic fracturing case to identify the differences in the created fracture properties. Based on the created channel fracturing index profile, the gross Vaca Muerta shale interval was divided into three intervals (lower, middle, and upper) and the process was repeated across each section to determine the incremental production impact across interval.

The result of this study shows that the channel fracturing technique is applicably in the Vaca Muerta shale and can potentially increase the production performance. The analysis also shows that this technique is more favorable primarily across the upper and middle Vaca Muerta intervals than the lower Vaca Muerta interval due to the high organics, low rock moduli, and high stress. Also, permeability degradation of the proppant pack does not negatively impact the overall conductivity in a Channel fracture system. Instead, loss of aperture reduces the conductivity by orders of magnitude.

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