AAPG Middle East Region, Shale Gas Evolution Symposium

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The Necessity of Complexity and its Inherent Limitations Regarding Well Placement

Abstract

Geologic features such as natural fractures certainly impact both production and fracture propagation. Clay types and interactions can create fracture barriers, impede fracture initiation at the wellbore, and result in poor fracture conductivity over time. Fracture growth models attempt to account for all of these variations while also considering the stress profile changes as a well is drilled and then fractured sequentially down the lateral or even with a zipper fracture configuration with a neighboring wellbore. Ultimately, these unknowably complex variables all contribute to the economic viability of shale wells and thus the natural reaction is to attempt to include each variable, at some level, into the fracture propagation model to achieve a more representative treatment. In an attempt to reduce data collection costs as shale economic profitability is largely dictated by cost control, a couple examples of attempts to simplify these incredibly complex problems will be presented: one in the Bakken and one in the Terryville Gas Field. These particular examples are being chosen because well placement has shown to be of vital importance in these plays and the relative success of each approach is presented.