Hydraulic fracturing has been instrumental in commercializing ultra-tight unconventional resources. Although hydraulic fracturing has been used for nearly half a century in more than a million wells, understanding and mapping hydraulic fracture growth remains a challenge for shales and ultra-tight reservoirs. A number of approaches have been taken to better understand and characterize hydraulic fractures in the subsurface, but a technology which can accurately map hydraulic fractures with minimal operational interference and negligible cost remains elusive. Microseismic based mapping is arguably the most ubiquitously deployed method, but this approach is costly and provides limited insight into characterizing hydraulic fractures. Alternative technologies for mapping hydraulic fractures are currently being explored, but many of these technologies provide only qualitative information or require expensive data acquisition tools.
This paper discusses a novel hydraulic fracture and proppant mapping technology (IMAGE Frac), which is technically robust, easy to use, and low cost. The technology is founded upon basic poromechanic theory, utilizing measurements from surface pressure gauges during the stimulation process to determine the geometry, orientation, and spatial location of hydraulic fractures with higher precision than other traditional techniques, while providing insight into the proppant distribution. The data acquisition approach requires only minor deviations from traditional practices and can be implemented without impacting completions efficiency. This technology has been utilized successfully in over 30 wells in multiple plays including the Bakken and Eagle Ford and is targeted for deployment in several other plays in mid-2016. An overview of the technology is provided along with an in-depth discussion of the validation studies from both the field and simulations. Two case studies are provided, which show the potential of the technology to provide new insight and improve drilling and completions operations. The case studies illustrate specific examples of how this technology enables better selection of landing zones, proppant size, pumped volumes, well spacing, and overall completions strategy. A companion paper (Kampfer and Dawson, 2016) discusses the fundamentals of the technology and provides in-depth, simulation-based studies, which demonstrate the robustness of the technique.
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