Hydrocarbon resources such as tight sands have become one of the most sought after types of unconventional plays, given the extensive amounts of gas they contain. In order to access these reserves, the industry is focused on improving hydraulic fracturing techniques with the purpose of increasing gas recovery. However, proper reservoir management practices, in conjunction with improved completion processes, are also key factors for maximizing these gas reserves. Additionally, reservoir understanding becomes even more relevant when dealing with reservoirs deposited in complex fluvial environments.

This paper discusses a study that integrates the accurate stratigraphy and detailed reservoir characterization of a 160-acre 3D fluvial geologic outcrop model populated with analog producing field reservoir properties with detailed hydraulic fracturing modeling to better understand the effects that fluvial depositional environments have on hydraulic fracture growth. Subsequently, the detailed hydraulic fracturing growth parameters are implemented in a robust 3D reservoir simulation model, representing the heterogeneous geologic environment. Reservoir simulation is then used to determine the dynamic flow conditions associated with the fluvial geologic model with the ultimate goal of determining optimum reserve recovery practices such as well spacing and placement, hydraulic fracture design components, etc.

The methodology applied in this study, which starts with the 3D outcrop mapping and characterization, followed by the development of a geostatistical model, hydraulic fracturing modeling, and reservoir simulation is presented. Three different cases, consisting of various well locations and spacing, are described. Results show that the continuity of sand bodies in the near wellbore vicinity, whether part of the completion interval or not, is critical to the ultimate reserve recovery and is a function of the hydraulic fracture growth pattern. Additionally, amalgamation of the sandstone bodies, which also affects the hydraulic fracture growth patterns, has a strong effect on gas recoveries. Finally, for the cases reviewed, the benefits of infill drilling were mainly obvious in reserve acceleration versus reserve addition.

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