Technology Update: Optimizing Well Productivity: Horizontal Logs Unlock Critical Geologic Knowledge
- John King (Cordax Evaluation Technologies)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 18 - 21
- 2018. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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With drilling on the rise, US oil production is expected to continue to increase. However, many industry professionals are concerned that the “brute force” model, which has seen a massive influx of capital flow into completion and hydraulic fracturing operations, is not an economically sustainable business model. There is a growing belief that better understanding of the effectiveness of completion designs and hydraulic fracturing strategies will require far greater subsurface geological understanding. Moreover, continued well productivity improvements will only be realized through improved reservoir characterization, and by applying formation petro-physical and geomechanical information to optimize methods of drilling, completing, and stimulating wells.
There has been considerable media attention focused on how the industry is drilling wells longer and more quickly, as well as applying higher-intensity fractures. Until recently, however, there has been less emphasis on constructing productive wells with less capital.
Traditional vertical well tool conveyance methods effectively addressed industry logging requirements for almost a century, but in today’s “horizontal” world, conventional methodologies are either not applicable or expensive and risky. Essentially, the multibillion-dollar logging market has not quite been turned upside down, but has toppled onto its side.
Using available industry data, the low-hanging fruit in the growing “big data” boom, geosciences departments have labored to build accurate high-resolution geological models. Given the nonhomogeneous nature of the geology in unconventional reservoirs, applying vertical offset well logs and interpolating field reservoir models is generally accepted as a good start, but hardly the complete solution. To develop an accurate reservoir model, the heterogeneous nature of shale plays requires far greater data resolution than most operators appreciate. If operators are going to efficiently exploit every stage of their wellbore, they need accurate, measured formation insights along every foot of the horizontal wellbore. Geometric completions and fracturing strategies are not practical or effective in these unpredictable heterogenous environments. Along the wellbore, operators are encountering highly variable rock properties that affect fracturing efficiencies, and result in poor or unexpected well production results.
This trend is forcing producers to evaluate stage-by-stage production contributions. They are finding that large portions of their wells are not contributing. There is a growing realization that improved well results that are repeatable and predictable are only going to come about by enhancing production at every stage in the wellbore. This requires engineered completions programs and tailored fracturing strategies that account for the considerable rock heterogeneity along the lateral.
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