Shale resource development technology is being improved and optimized over the last decade as the industry has seen a sharp rise in production and IP rates in North America and most recently from Europe and Australia while initial activities are on the rise in Latin America, Middle East and China. Despite such improvements, if one takes a closer look at the performance of the wells, one will find that not all wells are producing commercially and for that matter even wells that are producing commercially not all hydraulic fracture stages are contributing. This scenario is further compounded with the fact that unconventional resource development has a narrow profit margin for the E&P operators and in turn for the service industry. The industry needs to focus on the balance between efficient deployment of fit-for-purpose technology with strict economics in mind.

This conundrum potentially suggests that when dealing with shale resource one is faced with sweet spot identification in a basin / field and at the same time moving away from geometric (say every 250 ft.) selection of hydraulic fracture stages and placing stages where appropriate from a productivity point of view.

This paper documents certain well defined criterion used to identify the sweet spot location within a field / basin for the optimal well placement. We further document the vital formation / zone characteristic related information that can define the placement for hydraulic fracture stages and thus move away from the arbitrary geometric placement. Such an optimized plan can allow placement of productive wells and frac stages and thereby enhancing productivity and reducing well drilling and stimulation expenses. The key is effective cost reduction.

The paper illustrates the well placement optimization process through a combination of seismic attribute analysis combined with petrophysical and geochemical analysis via core and geophysical log measurements. The hydraulic fracture stage placement relies on the need to understand existing natural fracture system through geophysical log measurements and the interaction between the created hydraulic bi-wing tensile fracture and the surrounding shear fractures.

The paper concludes by presenting examples from three basins demonstrating the practical application of the methodology.

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