There are several powerful 3-D (and pseudo 3-D) numerical simulators available in the industry for designing hydraulic fracture treatments. With each model, the accuracy of the simulation results depends heavily on the input data used. Thus, it is important to prepare a complete and accurate input data file for these simulators. This can be difficult to do, however, not only because a lot of data items are required, but also because many decisions have to be made.

Using artificial intelligence methods, we have developed a powerful and interactive software application that uses a series of friendly and intelligent interfaces to acquire the large amount of data needed by fracture simulators. In these interfaces, the user is guided through a series of screens specific to his problem. More importantly, the system helps the user make many decisions, such as selecting fracturing fluids and additives, selecting proppants, and selecting pumping schedules and pumping techniques. The system includes several databases from which a considerable amount of information can be accessed automatically, such as typical formation data, fluid rheology, and proppant conductivities. The system also provides a powerful expert help facility. In addition, based on the fracture simulation results, the system produces data sets that can be used to run reservoir performance simulators and economics software.

This paper is the first of two papers which will summarize our work – how to design and implement the intelligent interface system that we call STIMULATION EXPERT. This paper analyzes the requirements of different users, outlines the purpose and the system structure, and describes the system. The second1  of the two papers will describe the implementation and application of the system in detail.

This system can be used to help engineers design hydraulic fracture treatments. The methodology described in both papers can be used to develop other similar software for different types of simulators in the industry.

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