Production logs from horizontal wells in shale reservoirs indicate that more than 30% of the perforation clusters do not contribute to production. One major reason is recognized as the stress shadow effect which impedes the propagation of the interior fractures within a single fracture stage. Although limited entry perforations have been successfully introduced in horizontal wells to counteract this completion inefficiency, the complex mechanisms involved have not been fully understood.

In this paper, a fully integrated workflow that incorporates fracture propagation, reservoir flow and wellbore hydraulics has been developed to evaluate the efficiency of limited entry perforations during multiple simultaneous fracture propagation. Darcy–Weisbach and classic orifice flow equations are adopted to describe the wellbore and perforation friction. The coupled reservoir and geomechanics model are solved by finite element code while a cohesive zone model, which accounts for the significant non-linear effects near fracture tip over the conventional linear elastic fracture mechanics, is used to simulate the fracturing process.

During the stimulation of multiple fractures, uneven fluid distribution will be observed once the fractures begin to interfere with each other. Meantime, the difference in perforation pressure loss due to uneven fluid rates will counteract the stress shadow effects and balance fluid distribution. Thus, a larger perforation friction coefficient is favorable but it also causes higher pumping pressure. A novel proppant model is proposed to represent both stress- and time-dependent fracture conductivity change due to proppant degradation in subsequent long-term production. Production simulation results demonstrate that deliberate deployment of limited entry technique can significantly increase production but this benefit is reduced with increased cluster spacing. Sensitivity study indicates that better well performance could be obtained by reducing number of shots in each cluster and increasing number of clusters in each stage. Non-uniform perforation shots distribution is proven to be an effective means to counteract the stress shadow effects while the cluster length is unchanged. Simulation results also indicate how the heterogeneity in reservoir properties affects the performance of limited entry perforations.

The proposed workflow has the advantage to integrate fracturing and production simulation in the same grid system and evaluate performance of different stimulation strategies. The comparison studies can provide critical insights to the application of engineered limited entry.

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