Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) inter-stage vertical seismic profiling (VSP) data were acquired during the stimulation of two horizontal shale wells in the Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin’s Hereford field. These data were analyzed to obtain induced fracture heights and fracture densities for use in fracture modeling and Stimulated Rock Volume (SRV) calculations. Inverted inter-stage VSP (also referred to as rapid time-lapse DAS VSP) data, transformed to an anisotropic seismic velocity model via rock physics relationships, were used to estimate stage-by-stage fracture height and density. Comparison of fracture height from multiple sources confirm the validity of fracture height calculations for the Niobrara fiber well, and the deeper Codell fiber well. When combined with other independent diagnostics such as microseismic, tilt (microdeformation), seismic rock properties, pressure, and distributed acoustic/temperature sensing (DAS/DTS) data, these estimates are validated for use in developing an optimized completion plan, as well as for use in calculating stage-by-stage stimulated rock volumes.


The Hereford field is located in the northern DJ Basin, Colorado, just south of the Wyoming state line. Similar to the giant Wattenburg field to the south, Hereford produces from the unconventional reservoirs of the Upper Cretaceous Niobrara Formation and the Codell Member of the Carlile Shale (Figure 1). Early in the life of the Hereford field, it was understood that the "complexity of the fracture system" would require significant analysis in order to understand and realize the reserve potential of the field (Anderson et. al., 2015). Early wells in the field, drilled between 2010 and 2012, were completed with relatively small completions and primarily accessed oil in the natural fracture systems. The very tight 0.5 to 3.0 mD permeability in the Niobrara B Chalk requires larger completion rates and volumes to access the matrix oil.

The Hereford Field contains pervasively naturally fractured zones as well as more matrix dominated areas. A production optimization project was initiated by HighPoint Resources in 2019 to understand the best practices for maximizing production from both the pervasively natural fractured parts of the field, as well as the more matrix dominated portions of the field, while performing completions in 23 wells on four pads within the field. This project was designed to shorten the cycle-time needed to optimize completions. Rather than execute well-by-well parameter variations that can take years to evaluate, this project was designed to test numerous completion scenarios with a variety of diagnostic tools in a short period of time. Evaluation of these completion parameter changes give the best chance of success. In addition to distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) and distributed temperature sensing (DTS) on fiber optic cables cemented behind casing, numerous other techniques were utilized to evaluate these wells including surface microseismic, tilt (microdeformation), pressure gauges, micro-imaging, and a pilot well with a quad combo and dipole sonic. Additionally, the 2009-vintage seismic data were reprocessed and merged with adjacent surveys in 2019 including a new pre-stack inversion. (Raw data courtesy of Seitel).

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