Characterizing Complex Fracture Geometry Through Data Integration in the Permian Basin
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Understanding how fractures propagate during multi-stage hydraulic fracturing enables better prediction for production and increases reserves. Fracture complexity from both stress shadow effects and natural fracture interactions increases the challenges current models face for determining accurate fracture geometry. Through data synthesis from microseismicity, stimulation treatment, and production, a calibrated model increases reliability in determining fracture geometry while proving capable of optimizing future completion designs. The Permian Basin’s unique lithology contains a high degree of vertical heterogeneity and natural fractures, accentuating the complexity that makes fracture modeling difficult. Microseismic data give gross fracture dimensions, possible areas of reactivated natural fractures, and the direction of maximum horizontal stress while also providing a baseline for calibrating reservoir simulators. Production and stimulation simulators indicate that initiating fractures inside the Wolfcamp B2 formation results in propped height growth being contained by the Wolfcamp B1 and Wolfcamp B3 layers. Inferior perforation cluster spacing increases stress shadow effects, causing further decreases in contributing reservoir volume and cumulative production. Instantaneous shut-in pressure analysis reflects that future well completion designs can be further refined without excessive diagnostic data or when it is unavailable, since the fracture height derived closely resembles the gross fracture height from microseismic data. The calibrated model for this zone indicates perforation cluster spacing should be 75 ft. for 3 perforation clusters, 50 ft. for 4 perforation clusters, and 40 ft. for 5 perforation clusters, to maximize conductivity during Plug-and-Perf completions. By increasing fluid and sand volumes, the cluster spacing can be reduced to 15 ft. with 6 perf clusters and attain the highest amount of contributing volume. As economic conditions vary, calibrated fracture models remain an integral part of characterizing fracture geometry. By understanding how fractures propagate in the Wolfcamp B2 formation and optimizing completion design accordingly, operators can potentially produce more oil and gas, increase margins, and save millions of dollars.
Patterson, Ross Andrew (2017). Characterizing Complex Fracture Geometry Through Data Integration in the Permian Basin. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from