Marcellus Wells: Ultimate Production Accurately Predicted From Initial Production

Topics: Petroleum reserves Reservoir management Tight gas/shale gas/coalbed methane
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In this work, the authors perform automatic decline analysis on Marcellus Shale gas wells and predict ultimate recovery for each well. A minimal model is used that captures the basic physics and geometry of the extraction process. A key discovery is that wells can have their estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) predicted early in life with surprising accuracy.


There are many challenges to production in the Marcellus, ranging from the regulatory and price environment to the highly variable responses of rock to hydro­fracture treatment. The complete paper’s primary goal is to generate scenarios for future gas production from the Marcellus by use of varying gas prices and other assumptions.

The first step in this process is determining technically recoverable reserves, which requires deciding how much each well will produce over its lifetime. To do this, the authors use recovery-­factor curves that describe total recovery in terms of two parameters: total gas in the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) and the characteristic time to boundary-dominated flow (BDF).

Most wells produce following these recovery curves, but not all. Upon examining production data, the authors found that several hundred wells have very slow decline for the first several years, slower than the production decline expected from linear flow. In discussions with multiple operators, the authors found that this is attributable to production choking.

There have been several analytical and numerical models developed to predict production from horizontal, hydrofractured shale gas wells. This paper uses the scaling model developed by Patzek et al. (2013) to build recovery-factor curves to describe production for Marcellus wells. Fitting production of 5,275 wells, 404 wells are found that experience boundary-dominated flow. Among these wells, 175 are horizontally drilled. The original gas inside the SRV for these wells is compared with initial production, and a very high correlation is found. This correlation is used to estimate gas production for the remaining wells. Among the entire set of wells, an average EUR of 3.6 Bscf is estimated, with the middle 60% having EURs between 6.6 and 1.8 Bscf. The model for flow to the wellbore is detailed in the complete paper.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 180234, “Marcellus Wells: Ultimate Production Accurately Predicted From Initial Production,” by Frank Male, Michael P. Marder, John Browning, and Svetlana Ikonnikova, The University of Texas at Austin, and Tad Patzek, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, prepared for the 2016 SPE Low-Permeability Symposium, Denver, 5–6 May. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Marcellus Wells: Ultimate Production Accurately Predicted From Initial Production

24 August 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 9