Propped hydraulic fracture stimulation has been one of the primary completion methods for coalbed methane wellbores for more than twenty years. However direct fracturing of coal seams has been notoriously inefficient. High fracture pressures in coal seams, coal cleating and natural fractures can lead to shear slippage and inefficient non-planar fracturing which significantly underperforms the stimulation potential compared to conventional clastic rock fracture stimulation. In 2003 the concept of indirect fracturing was introduced to significantly increase Coalbed methane (CBM) fracturing efficiency by initiating fractures in lower stress clastic rock adjacent to coal seams and allowing these induced fractures to connect and grow into the coal seams. This paper presents several examples of the application of indirect fracturing for the stimulation of coal seams in the Rockies. This paper evaluates production results, fracture pressure analysis, as well as micro seismic results and frac tracer analysis for quantifying the effectiveness of indirect fracturing for the stimulation of CBM reservoirs. From this data we present guidelines for when and where indirect fracturing is applicable and just as important, where indirect fracturing is not appropriate.

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