This paper assesses the effectiveness of combining hydraulic fracture monitoring (performed using borehole pressure-wave readings) with facies analysis based on mechanical specific energy (MSE) measurements. Beneficial applications include: 1) evaluation and optimization of completion designs, 2) design and measurement of diversion effectiveness and 3) placement of the frac as designed – while avoiding offset well communication – to increase estimated ultimate recovery (EUR). The evaluation was performed on a four-well dataset in the Eagle Ford shale.

For each well, facies analysis directed pre-job planning, resulting in various frac stage designs that were based on variations in MSE. The stages were monitored during the job, and, based on results, frac stage designs were modified in real time to optimize the next geomechanically similar stage. Far-field diversion was used on targeted stages to limit half-length growth in select wells. On all the wells, the number of clusters per stage was varied and the impact was monitored.

The first well was used as a baseline to provide direct, quantifiable correlations between the facies MSE and the measured fracture half-lengths. On subsequent wells, different treatment designs were executed, based on the varying MSE measurements, to obtain the desired half-length. The design changes included variations in the number of clusters per stage, far-field diversion strategies, pump rates, and proppant concentrations and quantities. Throughout the operation, frac performance was monitored continuously and pumping designs were optimized by varying parameters such as perforation clusters spacing, pump rate, diverter, acid volume, pad volume, slurry/proppant design, and volume per linear foot. The completion design of every stage was modified in real time, based on the performance of the fracture system. In each well, the first stages in each rock type served as control stages for calibration purposes. The result was the development of a uniform fracture system, in terms of both its extension as well as its near- and far-field conductivity. In a series of 204 stages across all four wells, the integration of MSE facies with fracture performance enabled real-time optimization of the fracture system, which delivered significant improvements in production performance, reservoir development, and reduced rate of depletion.

The combination of MSE analysis with borehole pressure-wave-based hydraulic fracture monitoring is a paradigm shift that has the potential to revolutionize how horizontal plays are developed. Employing these combined technologies can be used to drive each frac stage to meet frac half-length, height, and conductivity goals. The fit-for-purpose, noninvasive and scalable qualities of both technologies deliver strong cost efficiencies and can significantly increase EUR from the project acreage. At both the well and field levels, this combination of cost efficiency and customizability is critical to optimizing recovery from the field and increasing the economic life of industrialized shale completions.

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