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The Barnett Shale Play of North Texas - Points to Ponder in 2007

LaFollette, Randal F.
BJ Services Company, Tomball, TX

     The Barnett Shale of the Fort Worth Basin is a play with a long history of experimentation, success, and failure. From drilling of the first well in the play in 1981, through April 5, 2007, over 6,500 vertical, deviated, or horizontal Barnett tests or producers have been drilled. Over that time period, vertical wells predominated for 20 years or more, and were then supplanted by horizontal well drilling technology.
     Study of public data pertaining to the North Texas Barnett play indicates that there is no simple, one-size-fits-all recipe for success in the Barnett. There are different reasons for Barnett successes and failures in different parts of the play. Technologies used successfully in one area may fail miserably in another. Barnett successes and failures result from the intersection of reservoir quality, well architecture, geohazards, completion, and stimulation processes. Reservoir quality and geohazards vary according to geographic position. Barnett production patterns analyzed using GIS methods show clear evidence of sweet, and not-so-sweet spots. Frac barriers, hydrocarbon liquids, and water all have their effects of Barnett production. Well architecture can be the difference between completing a better or poorer Barnett well. Different well completion and stimulation types have been attempted throughout the history of the Barnett play.
     Over time, two technologies have been critical to Barnett success; horizontal drilling and slick water fracturing. Two other technologies that may prove to be beneficial going forward are simultaneous fracturing of horizontal wells, or simo-fracs, and ultralight weight proppants.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90071 © 2007 AAPG Rocky Mountain Meeting, Snowbird, Utah