Technical Paper: Unlocking the Shale Mystery: How Lateral Measurements and Well Placement Impact Completions and Resultant Production

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 138427
Presentation Date: 2010
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Across many shale plays in North America, operators ask why production performance disparities exist among horizontal wells. For example, even though drilling and completion practices of a neighboring operator may be mimicked, significantly different production results are frequently observed. Several hypotheses have been presented on the subject with little consensus. In most of these wells, formation evaluation in the lateral section is limited to gamma ray. Using a single curve to model the structure leads to multiple solutions with no way to determine which one is correct. Accordingly, large uncertainties may exist in: 1) determining the relative geologic position of the wellbore, 2) placing perforation clusters, and 3) selecting the appropriate staging design and stimulation treatment for the resulting well placement.

To produce wells that perform to their maximum potential, it is fundamentally necessary to understand both the placement of the lateral in the reservoir and the placement of the perforations in the lateral. To optimize these placements, some measurements must be taken in the lateral. Obviously, the value of understanding where to locate the lateral and the perforations must be greater than both the direct costs associated with taking these measurements and the risk weighted costs associated with deploying tools in the lateral. A way to acquire this information while mitigating many of the aforementioned concerns is logging while drilling (LWD). Some of the measurements that LWD can capture along shale laterals include borehole/azimuthal images, stress, and mineralogy. With these comprehensive LWD measurements, not only can the captured data be taken for future completion design and analysis, they can also be used while drilling the lateral to steer the wellbore towards a desired target more accurately than gamma ray only.

This paper focuses on how lateral LWD measurements impact well placement, perforation selection, hydraulic fracture stage spacing, completion design, resultant production, and subsequent economics of horizontal shale wells. Practical LWD examples from the Eagle Ford and Woodford Shale plays are presented, along with their impact on the aforementioned subjects.

In this paper principles of using LWD measurements and interpretation in a field development plan are described, including relating LWD data to additional functions such as completion design, microseismic hydraulic fracture monitoring, production monitoring, and production logging. Ideas on how to optimize the amount and type of LWD measurements are proposed. Lastly, the paper will examine the impact of LWD measurements on the overall economics of horizontal shale wells.

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