The Mowry Shale oil play, located in the southwestern portion of the Powder River Basin, Wyoming, is in its early stages of development. As of the end of 2019, only 42 horizontal wells have been placed on production in this play, with 18 of these drilled in a higher shale maturity, higher productivity "core area".
An important objective of the operators in this emerging shale oil play is to identify, as early and as efficiently as possible, optimum well completion practices. Under a traditional approach, operators often drill and complete hundreds of wells testing alternative completion practices to reach an optimum design. This results in the drilling and completion of many sub-optimum wells and less than optimum deployment of scarce capital investment.
To address this issue, the paper examines two questions -- To what extent could Simplified Data Analytics, undertaken early in the life of a shale oil play, substitute for this traditional approach for defining optimum well completion design? And, could Simplified Data Analytics provide a reliable method for projecting the performance of newly drilled and future wells?
The paper discusses the methodology for successful use of Simplified Data Analytics for assessing optimum well drilling and completion practices in the Mowry Shale, including; (1) taking out, to the extent practical, the effects of geology by partitioning the Mowry Shale play; (2) establishing a reliable measure of well performance; and (3) rigorously correcting the production and well completion data to assure a quality dataset. To illustrate Simplified Data Analytics, the paper uses a dataset of 18 horizontal Mowry Shale wells drilled in a geologically distinct portion of the Powder River Basin.
The paper starts by tabulating "time slices" of well performance and well drilling and completion (D&C) practices. These "time slices" show that Mowry Shale well performance has improved notably in the past several years, in line with advancing and more intensive well D&C practices.
Simplified Data Analytics is then used to develop an algorithm that incorporates three key well D&C practices--lateral length, number of frac stages, and proppant concentration--to : (1) define optimum practices for the Mowry Shale in one of the "core areas" of the Powder River Basin, and (2) project how newly drilled wells in this "core area" should perform given their D&C practices. The accuracy and value of the Simplified Data Analytics methodology will be tested against the performance of newly drilled Mowry Shale wells.
The application of Simplified Data Analytics to the Mowry Shale may also provide insights of value to producers in other shale oil plays. Appropriately applied, it provides a transparent and "easy-to-use" methodology for early identification of optimum well completion practices in alternative geologic settings.