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Data Gathering to Smooth the Bumpy Path to Optimization

Noble Energy has had powerful motivation to invest in learning how to maximize the return on its wells in the Wattenberg field in Colorado—its biggest current investment and key to the company’s aggressive growth program.

Over the past 3 years, the independent oil company has drilled nearly 600 wells in extremely tight Niobrara formation rock. The company plans to go from 320 wells per year in 2014 to 680 wells in 2018, according to a recent Noble Energy investor presentation. This effort is needed as it works to double its daily production over the next 5 years.

For the team working to maximize production and profits in that field, one of the biggest questions has been, and continues to be, how many wells to drill per square mile.

This is a common question in the industry, but the company has done something uncommon to help answer it: Noble created an “Underground Laboratory.” It is in a section of land with nine horizontal wells, spaced at varying intervals. The “Laboratory” includes a pair of horizontal wells with multiple fiber-optic and pressure sensors amid a cluster of vertical monitoring wells and provides a multidisciplinary team of geoscientists and engineers a rare and unusually detailed look at oil production in the Niobrara on a meter-by-meter basis.

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Data Gathering to Smooth the Bumpy Path to Optimization

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 April 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 4

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