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A Multidisciplinary Approach to Unlocking the Key Drivers in the Midland Basin


A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding Key Drivers in the Midland Basin Authors: David Law, Bryn Davies, Aaron Reimchen

At a production output of 3.5 MMbbl/d, 410 active rigs and operators constantly improving operational efficiencies, the Permian Basin is the largest shale oil reserve in North America. The Midland Basin is transitioning into development mode: operators proved widespread commerciality in four primary intervals and are testing another three. There is an average of 4,000’ of stacked reservoir and source rock, providing seemingly endless resources to extract. As the play developed, completion and production strategies were tested as operators optimized designs for lateral lengths, proppant and fluid intensities. This study unravels the complexities of the Midland Basin and utilizes the many data sets available in the basin and multivariable analysis to determine key geological and well design drivers, providing a holistic view of what makes the Midland Basin tick and the potential EUR uplift from optimization.

A basin-scale geological model was built using digital well logs to compute a thorough petrophysical analysis of the Upper Spraberry to the base of the Wolfcamp D. The most targeted formation, the Wolfcamp B, exhibits classic unconventional rock characteristics. The formation was deposited in a deep, rapidly subsiding basin in the mid-late Permian and now lies at a depth of ~9,500’ in Midland County, the core of the play. The shales are moderately high in TOC at 2-4%, have effective porosities of 3-6% and thickness reaching 600’ in multiple benches. Using an algorithmic approach to statistically decipher all publicly available data for producing wells in the Wolfcamp formations, we were able to extract which factors are the biggest contributors to success and how to best harness them in the ongoing development of the play. Well design factors analyzed include spacing, lateral length, proppant and fluid intensity; geologic factors include isopach, depth, effective porosity and original-oil-in-place (OOIP).

The success and rapid development of the Midland Basin is becoming better understood with the technological advancements that accompany a highly-active basin. By incorporating large and complex data sets on a multidisciplinary level, it is possible to gain a deeper understanding of the Midland Basin and future opportunities for operators. This study determines key geological drivers within the basin and derives an ideal well design by utilizing multivariable analysis.