Multilateral wells have been routinely drilled for several applications, with shale plays representing a natural progression for its use. Augmenting a multilateral well with selective fracturing of each leg is as straightforward as fracturing a single horizontal well. Multilateral wells with cemented junctions provide a good alternative to improve the economics for the development of oil and gas shale-reserve projects. This paper provides a description of the primary reasons for improving development project economics.

Multilateral solutions provide the means to work within a limited surface access area and generate a reduced footprint while draining a much larger volume of the reservoir from a single-surface location. This solution presents a significant advantage when drilling in sensitive or restricted locations, populated areas, and areas in which land issues restrict access to multiple drilling locations. In addition, the cost and effects of large drilling pads or multiple wellsites are avoided.

This paper describes the results obtained from the implementation and execution of projects in which cemented junctions were created for a new dual-lateral well and for an existing well in North America. It also provides the average cost savings obtained when this approach is compared to that of a single main wellbore and describes well performance with commingled production rates above typical single horizontal wells.

Based on past experience, the use of multilateral wells with cemented junctions (applied for new and/or existing wells) can make significant contributions toward helping oil and gas shale-reserve projects to be economically feasible, whereas the economics of single horizontal wells do not offer advantages for a large development plan for oil-and-gas-industry operators.

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