A More-Rigorous Development Framework for Unconventional Reservoirs

Topics: Petroleum economics/production forecasting Petrophysics/geophysics Reservoir characterization Reservoir simulation Tight gas/shale gas/coalbed methane
Fig. 1: Schematic of pad layout.

Major oil companies have been struggling as they attempt to make the unconventional business a profitable one. Indeed, the strategy of building an unconventional portfolio by means of mergers and acquisitions is not providing a satisfactory return on investment. This paper describes how seismic reservoir integration, advanced production analysis, and accurate nanoscale and 3D full-field simulations may address profitability issues and help oil companies to be more efficient in developing unconventional portfolios.

Introduction

While, from approximately 2008–2011, independents were building and developing their US unconventional port­folio, majors were trying to enter the same business by means of multibillion-­dollar mergers and acquisitions. The majors were not fast enough to be able to repay the premium for this endeavor as a consequence of the combination of a low-­margin-profit type of business and ­hydrocarbon-price evolution. Majors tend to be essentially process-­driven organizations; therefore, they are not structured for rapid-decision-making approaches. Furthermore, they quickly align to the general concept of thinking about unconventional plays as if they are statistical ones. Their initial main effort was essentially made for unit cost reduction, whereas technology innovation has become a principal focus currently.

Key plays have experienced an impressive production growth. If, on one hand, the system is improving its efficiency, on the other, the incremental production is also associated with a huge increase in the average number of fracturing stages per well.

Few attempts were made to optimize wells and fracturing-stage placement by applying a more-scientific approach. Indeed, many sources estimate that only 40 to 60% of fracturing stages contribute to well production when they are placed on the basis of an equal-spacing strategy.

This article, written by JPT Technology Editor Chris Carpenter, contains highlights of paper SPE 171913, “From a Standard to a More-Rigorous Development Framework for Unconventional Reservoirs,” by I. Colombo, E. Spelta, D. Giamminonni, S.D. Russo, F. Rotelli, and M. Rotondi, Eni, prepared for the 2014 Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, 10–13 November. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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A More-Rigorous Development Framework for Unconventional Reservoirs

15 June 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 7