The goal of our work was to maximize gas production and recovery from a horizontal appraisal well in the Mancos shale in New Mexico. This required a fracture design that would maximize perforation cluster efficiency and a lateral placement strategy that would maximize gas recovery. A key challenge was to design a fracture treatment that would overcome the extreme stress shadowing effects. Another key challenge was to optimize the lateral placement balancing multiple factors.

Fracture treatment simulations were completed for various designs. Fracture simulations indicated cluster efficiency could be dramatically improved by optimizing the way we pump the pad. A step-up technique for increasing pumping rates during the pad stage helped to initiate more fractures. Intra-stage diversion was utilized. Fracture simulations were performed to optimize the lateral placement. This required balancing multiple factors to access the highest gas-in-place (GIP) interval yet facilitate more fracture initiations per stage.

Fracture descriptions from the fracture simulations were input to a reservoir simulator to determine the optimal design. This paper will focus on the hydraulic fracture modeling.

This appraisal well was the most productive Mancos gas well ever delivered in the San Juan Basin. The 9,546’ lateral produced at a choke constrained plateau rate of about 13 MMscfd for 7 months and produced over 6 BCF in the first 20 months. A radioactive tracer log indicated an overall perforation cluster efficiency of 83%, a significant achievement in a shale with high stress shadowing.

The fracturing fluid design, diverter design and pumping techniques can be applied in many other shales as a low-cost way to increase perforation cluster efficiency, which will in turn result in higher production rates and higher cumulative recovery. Building on the success observed in the Mancos wells, BP and BPX Energy have subsequently utilized these techniques in other shale plays with success.

The concepts and workflow used to decide the optimal lateral placement is a well-defined approach that can be applied to other unconventional wells to increase hydrocarbon recovery.

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