In today's data-driven economy, operators that integrate vast stores of fundamental reservoir and production data with the high-performance predictive analytics solutions can emerge as winners in the contest of maximizing estimated ultimate recovery (EUR). The scope of this study is to demonstrate a new workflow coupling earth sciences with data analytics to operationalize well completion optimization. The workflow aims to build a robust predictive model that allows users to perform sensitivity analysis on completion designs within a few hours.

Current workflows for well completion and production optimization in unconventional reservoirs require extensive earth modeling, fracture simulation, and production simulations. With considerable effort and wide scale of sensitivity, studies could enable optimized well completion design parameters such as optimal cluster spacing, optimal proppant loading, optimal well spacing, etc. Yet, today, less than 5% of the wells fractured in North America are designed using advanced simulation due to the required level of data, skillset, and long computing times. Breaking these limitations through parallel fracture and reservoir simulations in the cloud and combining such simulation with data analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms helped in the development of a powerful solution that creates models for fast, yet effective, completion design.

As a case study, the approach was executed on Eagle Ford wells. Over 2000 data points were collected with completion sensitivity performed on a multithreaded cluster environment on these wells. Advanced machine learning and data mining algorithms of data analytics such as random forest, gradient boost, linear regression, etc. were applied on the data points to create a proxy model for the fracturing and numerical production simulator. With the gradient boost technique, over 90% accuracy was achieved between the proxy model and the actual results. Hence, the proxy model could predict the wellbore productivity accurately for any given change in completion design. The operators now had a much simpler model, which served as a plug-and-play tool for the completion engineers to evaluate the impact of changes in completion parameters on the future well performance and making fast-tracked economic decisions almost in real time. The approach can be replicated for varying geological and geomechanical properties as operations move from pad to pad. Although the need for heavy computing resource, simulation skillset, and long run times was eliminated with this new approach, regular QA/QC of the model through manual simulations makes the process more robust and reliable.

The methodology provides an integrated approach to bridge the traditional reservoir understanding and simulation approach to the new big data approach to create proxies, which allows operators to make quicker decisions for completion optimization. The technique presented in this paper can be extended for other domains of wellsite operations such as well drilling, artificial lift, etc. and help operators evaluate the most economical scenario in close to real time.

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