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Technical Paper: Channel Fracturing in Horizontal Wellbores: The New Edge of Stimulation Techniques in the Eagle Ford Formation

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 145403
Presentation Date: 2011
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Abstract

The hydraulic channel fracturing technique relies on the engineered creation of a network of open channels within the proppant pack, which provides for highly conductive paths for the flow of fluids from the reservoir to the wellbore. These channels are created through a process that combines fit-for purpose geo-mechanical modeling, surface equipment controls and fluid and fiber technologies. This paper reports the first implementation of the channel fracturing technique in horizontal wellbores.

A section of the Eagle Ford formation (TVD 10,900 – 11,500 ft) in the Hawkville field near Cotulla, Texas was selected for this study. This section comprises mainly limestone with 100 to 600 nD permeability and 7 to 10 % total porosity. The formation requires horizontal laterals with multi-stage hydraulic fracturing for economic production.

The channel fracturing technique was evaluated in twelve horizontal wells. Results from thirty eight offset wells treated with conventional techniques (slickwater or hybrid-type treatments) are also reported to compare performance. Non-normalized data from this sample of fifty wells showed hydrocarbon production increases ranging between 32% and 68% in favor of the channel fracturing technique.

The Hawkville field comprises a gas-rich section and a condensate-rich section. Reservoir simulations were performed on a sample of four wells located in the gas-rich section and two wells located in the condensate-rich section of the field to generate sets of normalized production data. These simulations accounted for variations in completion strategy, bottom hole flowing pressures and reservoir quality. Normalized production data for the sample of wells located in the gas-rich section of the field showed that the channel fracturing technique increased gas production by 51%. Normalized production data for the sample of wells located in the condensate-rich section of the field indicates increase in condensate production by 46%. Results from these history matches are consistent with the hypothesis that the channel fracturing technique enabled higher production by two concomitant mechanisms: increased area of contact with the reservoir and enhanced connectivity between the reservoir and the wellbore through highly conductive channels.

Positive features that were also observed during this campaign such as the elimination of near-wellbore screen-outs and significant reductions in proppant and water consumption are also summarized and discussed.

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