Over the last several years, horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing have become the norm across the industry and proved crucial for economic production of natural gas from unconventional shale gas and ultra tight sandstone reservoirs, also referred to as nano-Darcy reservoirs.

Following the success of the Barnett shale, horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing has spread across North America with new emerging shale gas plays such as the Eagle Ford, Woodford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Utica, Horn River changing the industry’s landscaping. In the current economic environment of high drilling and completion costs, coupled with lower commodity prices, the economic success of shale gas developments has become reservoir specific.

Evaluation of well’s initial performance in a particular field and especially the ability to accurately predict the long term production behavior and EUR is critical to the efficient deployment of large capital investments. Field analogies making use of arbitrary "type curves" can have a significant negative impact on the project’s bottom line.

With the growing number of multi-stage horizontal wells producing from shale gas reservoirs, many "unconventional" production analysis techniques have been developed based on new concepts such as stimulated reservoir volume (SRV), fracture contact area (FCA), or sophisticated mathematical relationships (power law decline curves, linear flow type curves, to name a few). These sophisticated engineering processes are well documented in the literature and have been presented at numerous industry work shops and conferences. However, for the majority of these techniques there is one common reoccurring theme: performance evaluation of shale gas production cannot be analyzed using conventional methods (e.g. Darcy’s Law).

This paper will demonstrate how the conventional approach of reservoir characterization, well performance evaluation and forecasting, can be implemented for all unconventional gas reservoirs, using traditional well testing and production data analysis techniques. We will present one simple analytical model based on the solution of the pseudo steady state equation and will introduce the concept of a shale gas normalized production plot. In our view, the shale gas normalized production plot is one type curve generally applicable to any shale gas reservoir.

Finally, pre-frac in-situ testing techniques will be reviewed and special consideration will be given to the perforation inflow diagnostic (PID) testing. We will emphasize the importance of specific reservoir parameters (pore pressure and in-situ shale matrix permeability) and show their impact on drilling and completion strategy and design. Field case examples including well test results and production data from wells completed in several shale gas reservoirs are presented.

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