Hydraulic Fracture Diagnostics
- Norman R. Warpinski (Sandia Natl. Laboratories)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1996
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 907 - 910
- 1996. Not subject to copyright. This document was prepared by government employees or with government funding that places it in the public domain.
- 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 4.3.4 Scale, 2.2.2 Perforating, 1.8 Formation Damage, 3 Production and Well Operations, 5.6.5 Tracers, 5.4.2 Gas Injection Methods, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 2.5.1 Fracture design and containment
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Fracture diagnostics can provide important information on fracture geometry that can be used to improve stimulation effectiveness and reduce costs. Several cost-effective diagnostics already exist, and the technology for obtaining a full image of the fracture is progressing to the point of practical application.
Hydraulic fracturing is an interesting technology that has evolved to a mature, complex level; is critical to the economical production of hydrocarbons; and is a significant portion of the well-development cost. Nevertheless, it is still not understood fully or, at least, is interpreted poorly. Some may argue that the physical laws governing fracturing are known and fracture models are accurate, but the emergence of "new mechanisms" every few years (e.g., scale-dependent fracture toughness, complex fracturing, dilatancy, and convection) suggests that the basic physics incorporated into models has not been as comprehensive as required to model a fracture fully.
The reasons for the uncertainty surrounding the fracturing process are quite clear. The Earth is a complex, discontinuous medium, and historically there has been limited technology for observing or inferring fracturing results. Nothing can be done about the complexity of typical reservoirs in the Earth, and one can expect that difficulties with complexity will increase as more marginal reservoirs are exploited. On the other hand, diagnostic capabilities continue to improve and technology is reaching the point where fracture diagnostics can be applied by the average producer in problem situations, in new fields, or for validation of new fracturing techniques.
Furthermore, as operators continue to work in difficult, complex lithologies, it becomes clear that stimulation problems cannot be solved without some diagnostic data from which judicious decisions can be made. Diagnostics cost money, but trial-and-error approaches often cost more money and can result in lost wells. Decisions on well spacing, field layout, sand concentrations and volumes, number of zones that can be stimulated in one treatment, optimum perforation schedule, and many other operational parameters can be made correctly if the proper diagnostic information is available in a timely manner. This article briefly reviews the status of stimulation diagnostics and provides some information on newer technology that is becoming available. Some of these techniques could provide information that will improve production or reduce costs.
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