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Stimulating Unconventional Reservoirs: Maximizing Network Growth While Optimizing Fracture Conductivity
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- N.R. Warpinski (Pinnacle - A Halliburton Service) | M.J. Mayerhofer (Pinnacle - A Halliburton Service) | M.C. Vincent (CARBO Ceramics, Inc.) | C.L. Cipolla (Schlumberger) | E.P. Lolon (StrataGen Engineering)
- Document ID
- Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
- 39 - 51
- Publication Date
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2009. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.3.3 Hydraulic Fracturing and Gravel Packing, 6.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterization
- microseismic mapping, fracture matrix, unconventional reservoirs
- 20 in the last 30 days
- 3,200 since 2007
Unconventional reservoirs such as gas shales and tight gas sands require technology-based solutions for optimum development. The successful exploitation of these reservoirs has relied on some combination of horizontal drilling, multi-stage completions, innovative fracturing and fracture mapping to engineer economic completions. However, the requirements for economic production all hinge on the matrix permeability of these reservoirs, supplemented by the conductivity that can be generated in hydraulic fractures and network fracture systems. Simulations demonstrate that ultra-low shale permeabilities require an interconnected fracture network of moderate conductivity with a relatively small spacing between fractures to obtain reasonable recovery factors. Microseismic mapping demonstrates that such networks are achievable and the subsequent production from these reservoirs supports both the modelling and the mapping. Tight gas sands, having orders of magnitude greater permeability than the gas shales, may be successfully depleted without inducing complex fracture networks, but other issues of damage and zonal coverage complicate recovery in these reservoirs. As with the shales, mapping has proved itself to be valuable in assessing the fracturing results.
Unconventional reservoirs provide a significant fraction of gas production in North America and increasing amounts in some other regions of the world. Such reservoirs include tight gas sands, coalbed methane (CBM), and gas shales; in 2006 these reservoirs provided 43% of the US production of natural gas [Kuuskraa(1)]. Because of their limited permeability, which is foremost among many other complexities, some type of stimulation process (and/or dewatering in the case of CBM) is required to engender economic recovery from wells drilled into these formations. The focus of this paper is on gas shales, with particular emphasis on how these reservoirs perform relative to tight gas sands. The important role of natural fractures in both the stimulation and production processes, the importance of conductivity in the developed fracture or fracture system, and the critical influence of the matrix permeability are investigated using both mapping and modeling results.
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