Horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing have been credited for much of the success achieved in ultralow permeability shale reservoirs, making it possible to produce natural gas, natural gas liquids, and crude oil at economic rates. Although thousands of wells have been drilled and completed using these techniques, there are relatively few design tools and processes available within the industry designed specifically for these applications. In the past, much of the optimization process has been the result of trial and error techniques that can be both costly and time consuming.

This paper examines a step-out development project where new processes and tools were used to accelerate the de-risking of the asset area by identifying the best quality reservoir targets and significantly improving production and economics by implementing a completion optimization process.

This reservoir centric process uses earth modeling, complex fracture modeling, and reservoir simulation tools developed specifically for shale type formations. It also focuses on designing the wellbores to best accommodate the staged stimulation treatments that can help maximize the stimulated volume and the connected fracture area within this volume. When optimized, this process can help maximize the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) while sustaining economically viable production rates.

A detailed example is presented illustrating how these tools were successfully applied within a new development to accelerate reservoir understanding, help improve well performance consistency through more effective well placement, and significantly increase well performance through applied engineering processes, completion designs, and effective stimulation treatments. The success of the project is discussed to illustrate both the initial and sequential performance improvements as new processes and designs were implemented. Total well cost comparisons are also included to verify the economic benefit achieved within this asset.

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