Following demonstration of the economic recovery of natural gas from the Barnett Shale in the Fort Worth Basin in Texas around the year 2000, the “Shale Gale” as it is sometimes called has turned attention to the exploitation of other shale and tight formations throughout North America and around the globe. Over the last decade in North America, the incredible success of these unconventional resources has transformed the domestic energy landscape. The resulting accelerated petroleum production has significantly impacted first natural gas and more recently oil markets. Multiple, large hydraulic fracture treatments along the length of horizontal wells has been the key to unlocking the unconventional reservoirs to stimulate flow and create hydraulically conductive pathways in these intrinsically impermeable rocks. The economic impact of the exploitation of unconventionals has been truly revolutionary. Even so, development has occurred in regions unaccustomed to oil and gas operations and there has been a significant rise in public concern regarding safety, particularly with hydraulic fracturing operations. Alternatively, there is also positive environmental news associated with the abundance of inexpensive shale gas, which encourages U. S. electricity generation to move from coal to natural gas, thereby lowering total U. S. carbon dioxide emissions. Most importantly, the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a technical need to track and thereby optimize the stimulations, which has elevated microseismic monitoring from a niche technology to a key process for successful unconventional shale development.
Figures & Tables
Microseismic Imaging of Hydraulic Fracturing: Improved Engineering of Unconventional Shale Reservoirs
Microseismic monitoring is the key technology to image hydraulic fractures. With the recent industry focus on unconventional resources and the associated need for effective hydraulic fracture treatments to stimulate flow, microseismic monitoring has become a commonplace technology in the geophysical community. Microseismic has long been a niche geophysical technology to image fracturing, but the expansion of the technology over the last decade is evident by the increasing number of workshops, papers in various publications, and the sheer number of papers and associated dedicated sessions at the SEG annual meeting. This work aims to provide a practical user guide for survey design, quality control, interpretation, and application of microseismic hydraulic fracture monitoring. The book is intended to provide a comprehensive educational resource for microseismic hydraulic fracture imaging, with a focus on practical tips for executing a successful microseismic project. Limitations of the data and potential pitfalls are emphasized throughout.