Unlocking the potential of unconventional gas reservoirs can change the balance and future of the oil industry. Unconventional gas reservoirs can be tight-gas, coalbed methane (CBM), or shale reservoirs. Economic production of any of these three types requires the creation of multiple fractures from a long horizontal well. Fracturing horizontal wells presents several challenges regarding the rock mechanics, change of stresses around the created fractures, and fluid flow.

New and reinterpreted laboratory experiments have shed new light on fracturing a horizontal well and the effect of how the well is completed on the fracturing process. The results could explain the presence of multiple fractures at the wellbore. These geomechanical issues could influence the fracturing process, especially in naturally fractured formations. This paper investigates the effect of various fracturing scenarios on the stress distribution around the fractures. Optimization of the number of fractures is also investigated from both fluid-flow and geomechanical points of view.

Special attention is given to shale formations for two reasons—because of the great potential of shale formations, and because of the special characteristics that makes shale unique and challenging. Shale formations have ultra-low permeability that can be in the nanodarcy range. Shale formations are naturally fractured, and, depending on the carbon content, can have a significant amount of adsorbed gas.

This paper also investigates the effect of gas adsorption on productivity. Field examples are presented.

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