Technical Paper: Shale Gas Production Decline Trend Comparison Over Time and Basins

Society: SPE
Paper Number: 135555
Presentation Date: 2010
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Within the last year, shale gas plays have dominated onshore U.S. natural gas drilling activity, providing a rare boom, amid a period of economic uncertainty. However, skepticism has recently been placed on shale gas production decline trends from consultants and investment firms, where estimated ultimate recoveries (EURs) and the overall economic feasibility of shale gas plays have been brought into question.

EURs of shale gas wells have been forecast in a number of ways within the industry. Some entities have been calculating EURs based on initial production rates (IPs). Others are applying the decline trends established in one basin to a different, newer, basin with less production history. In other cases, two different operators may use different trend types in wells that are in the same location.

This paper seeks to more accurately assess the decline trends and EURs of these shale plays, whether the decline trends are improving, and what returns are required to make a well economically feasible. This study compares the production trends of horizontal wells in the Barnett, Fayetteville, Woodford, Haynesville and Eagle Ford shale plays, analyzing each, over time, to determine if there have been improvements in production. Where applicable, we address the impact that technology has had onĀ  enhanced production. Furthermore, the decline trends of horizontal shale compared to horizontal tight gas sandstone plays are examined for differences and to shed light on potential EURs. A basic economic analysis to estimate breakeven gas price for an average (P50) horizontal well in each play was performed.

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