Abstract

We have evaluated workflows to quantify the mechanical impact of natural fractures (NFs) on the production performance of hydraulically stimulated stages in shale wells. Variations in fracture orientation and density can enhance or degrade the transport and effectiveness of fracturing fluids. Specifically, we studied the effect of a complex fault splay system on a horizontal Wolfcamp B reservoir well. A general workflow that combines geophysics, geology, and geomechanics (3G) was evaluated and applied to the well. The benefits of the 3G workflow are threefold. First, the quantitative impact of the NFs on the regional stress is provided through the differential horizontal stress variation, which impacts fracturing complexity. Then, the reservoir strain map, validated with microseismic data, gives insights into the stimulated drainage pathways. Finally, the ability of the J integral to predict poor hydraulic fracturing stages as a function of fracture density along the wellbore or as a function of the energy required to propagate a fracture. Building on the validated 3G workflow, a well placement workflow that takes into account the quantitative impact of NFs on well performance was developed on the sample Wolfcamp well. By comparing the J integral of the same completion stage in simulations with and without NFs, stages with similar J integral values in both simulations were identified as those not being affected by the NF network. This allows the workflow to provide the optimal position of a well in the presence of NFs associated with a complex fault system that may produce undesirable water. The result is a validated 3G workflow that provides a geomechanical explanation for an empirical relationship showing that high oil production is achieved within a “Goldilocks” range of natural fracturing.

You do not currently have access to this article.