The Vaca Muerta (VM) formation, one of the largest unconventional reservoirs worldwide located in the Neuquén basin, has ceased to be a promise and is becoming a venturous reality. During recent years, the investments in its development have increased significantly. By the year 2040, it is believed that the VM formation may generate 560,000 bbl of liquid and 6,000 million cubic feet of gas per day.
One of the primary challenges of many operators has been to select the most productive landing zones; consequently, the performance of an accurate and complete petrophysical evaluation of the reservoir has become vitally important to increase production and to optimize well completion costs. The evaluation of shale formations using electrical logs is a major challenge for most petrophysicists because many of the measurements from the logging tool are affected by the organic matter concentrated in this type of rock.
This paper highlights the way in which these challenges were addressed. It describes the logging operation, as well as the integral petrophysical interpretation performed for a pilot well located in the oil window of the VM formation.
The key element for the success of this work was the implementation of the integrated workflow to evaluate the potential of the shale oil well. The integrated workflow enabled the identification of hydrocarbon-bearing formations, quantification of reservoir properties and hydrocarbons in place, determination of lithology variations within the objective section, and establishment of reliable correlations between electrical logs and the organic richness of the VM formation. In addition, the assessment of geomechanical properties has become vitally important to optimize well placement and to select the best hydraulic fracturing design.
The integrated analysis of the pilot well presented in this paper has proven to be a successful case in which an effective characterization of the VM formation, following the proposed formation evaluation workflow, and the integration of wireline data with the various data acquisition program components, enabled the delivery of recommendations about the prospective interval in which to land the programmed lateral well.