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2010 COPYRIGHT MERCADO NEGRO, LAS PLAYITAS. MARACAIBO-EDO. ZULIA, VENEZUELA.

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ADVERTENCIA: "EL DERECHO DE AUTOR NO ES UNA FORMA DE PROPIEDAD SINO UN DERECHO CULTURAL. EXIGE TU DERECHO"

Modern Fracturing
Enhancing Natural Gas Production

Michael J. Economides
University of Houston

Tony Martin
BJ Services

ET Publishing
Houston,TX

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2010 COPYRIGHT MERCADO NEGRO, LAS PLAYITAS. MARACAIBO-EDO. ZULIA, VENEZUELA.


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ADVERTENCIA: "EL DERECHO DE AUTOR NO ES UNA FORMA DE PROPIEDAD SINO UN DERECHO CULTURAL. EXIGE TU DERECHO"

BJ Services Company 2007


BJ Services Company
P.O. Box 4442 [77210-4442]
4601 Westway Park Blvd.
Houston, TX 77041
Graphic design and production: Jay Clark
Production manager: Alexander M. Economides
Copy Editor: Stephanie Weiss
Cover Art: Armando Izquierdo
Published by: Energy Tribune Publishing Inc.

820 Gessner Rd.-Ste. 920

Houston, TX 77040


(713) 647-0903

(713) 647-0940 (fax)
for orders and customer service enquires contact: info@energytribune.com

All rights reserved. No part of the publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval
system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, except under the expressed
permission of BJ Services Company, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

ISBN 978 1 60461 688 0


Printed and bound by Gulf Publishing Co.

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Contents
Preface

XV

Foreword

XVII

Contributing Authors

XVIII

Acknowledgements

XIX

Chapter 1
Introduction to this Book


1-1 Introduction
1-2 Natural Gas in the World Economy
1-3 Russia: A Critical Evaluation of its Natural Gas Resources

3
3
5

1-3.1 The Resource Base

1-3.2 Russian Natural Gas Production

1-4 Alaska, its Natural Gas Resources and their Impact on US Imports

1-4.1 Alaskan Reserves and Production

1-4.2 The Uncertain Destiny of the North Slope of Alaska Natural Gas

10

1-4.3 Alaska in the Context of the United States and Canadian Natural Gas

11

1-5 Qatar Natural Gas


12
1-5.1 North Field Characteristics and Development
13
1-6 Fracturing for the Efficient use of Existing
Resources and for Increasing Recovery Factor
13

Chapter 2
Natural Gas Production


2-1 Introduction
2-2 Idiosyncrasies of Dry Gas, Wet Gas and Gas Condensates
2-3 Inflow from Natural Gas Reservoirs

19
19
20

2-3.1 Fundamentals of Non-Darcy Flow in Porous Media

20

2-3.2 Transient Flow

20

2-3.3 Steady State and Pseudosteady State Flow

21

2-3.4 Horizontal Well Flow

22

2-4 Effects of Turbulence

23

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2-4.1 The Effects of Turbulence on Radial Flow

23

2-4.2 Perforated and Cased Well in a High-Rate Gas Reservoir

24

2-5 Production from Hydraulically Fractured Gas Wells

25

2-5.1 Unique Needs of Fracture Geometry and Conductivity

26

2-5.2 Turbulence Remediation in High- and Low-Permeability Wells

26

2-5.3 Multi-fractured Horizontal Gas Wells

28

2-6 Well Deliverability, IPR and Well Flow Performance


2-7 Forecast of Well Performance

2-7.1 Gas Material Balance and Forecast of Gas Well Performance

2-8 Correlations for Natural Gas Properties

33
34
34

35

2-8.1 Pseudocritical Pressure, ppc and Pseudocritical Temperature, Tpc

35

2-8.2 Gas Viscosity

35

2-8.3 Gas Deviation Factor, Z

35

Chapter 3
Gas Well Testing and Evaluation











3-1 Introduction
3-2 Background Theory
3-3 Radial Flow Solutions
3-4 Superposition
3-5 Model Development
3-6 Hydraulically Fractured Wells
3-7 Specialized Plots
3-8 Type Curves and the Log-Log Derivative Plot
3-9 Flow Regime Identification
3-10 Derivatives A Few Cautionary Remarks
3-11 PTA Interpretation Methods
3-12 Difference Between High and Low Permeability Analysis Techniques

41
42
44
45
46
47
48
49
51
54
56
57

3-12.1 High-Permeability Wells

57

3-12.2 Low-Permeability Wells Pre-Treatment Evaluation

59

3-12.3 Example 3-1, PID Test

60

3-12.4 Low-Permeability Wells Post-Treatment Evaluation

61

3-12.5 Example 3-2, Low-Permeability Well, Infinite-Conductivity Fracture

62

3-12.6 Example 3-3, Low-Permeability Well, Finite-Conductivity Fracture

65

3-13 Non-Darcy Flow

66

3-13.1 Example 3-4, Non-Darcy, High-Permeability Well, Finite-Conductivity Fracture

68

3-13.2 Example 3-5, Non-Darcy, Low-Permeability Well, Finite-Conductivity Fracture

69

3-14 Production Analysis

70

II
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3-15 Heterogeneity

76

3-15.1 Dual Porosity

76

3-15.2 Anisotropy

76

3-16 Multiphase Flow

77

3-16.1 Gas Condensates

78

3-16.2 Fracture Fluid Cleanup

79

3-16.3 Example 3-6, Fracture Fluid Cleanup Case

79

3-17 Closure Analysis


3-18 Deconvolution

81
86

Chapter 4
Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

4-1 Introduction to Hydraulic Fracturing

93

4-1.1 Brief History of Fracturing and Qualitative Description of Process

93

4-1.2 High Permeability vs. Low Permeability

94

4-1.3 Near-Well Flow Enhancement vs. Reservoir Stimulation

94

4-1.4 Acceleration vs. Increase of Reserves

95

4-2 Description of the Process

95

4-2.1 One of the Most Energy- and Material-Intensive Industrial Activities

95

4-2.1.1 Understanding the Significance of Pressure

96

4-2.1.2 Different Types of Pressure

96

4-2.1.3 Net Pressure

97

4-2.1.4 Effects of Tortuosity and Perforation Friction

98

4-2.1.5 Fluid Leakoff and Slurry Efficiency

101

4-2.1.6 Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity

102

4-2.1.7 Nolte-Smith Analysis Predicting Fracture Geometry from Pressure Trends

103

4-2.1.8 Step Rate Tests

104

4-2.1.9 Minifracs

106

4-2.2 The Role of Advanced Technology in Design, Execution and Evaluation

109

4-2.2.1 Recent Advances and Breakthroughs

109

4-2.2.2 Pressure Matching

112

4-2.2.3 Getting Closer to Understanding Fracture Geometry

115

4-2.2.4 Real-Time Analysis

115

4-2.3 From Fracturing a Single Vertical Well to Complex Well-Fracture Architecture

4-3 Rock Mechanical Characteristics

116

116

4-3.1 Basic Definitions

116

4-3.1.1 Stress and Strain

116

4-3.1.2 The Poissons Ratio

116

III
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4-3.1.3 Youngs Modulus

117

4-3.1.4 Other Rock Mechanical Characteristics

118

4-3.1.5 Hookes Law

119

4-3.1.6 Failure Criteria and Yielding

119

4-3.2 In-Situ Stress and Fracture Orientation

121

4-3.2.1 Overburden Stress

121

4-3.2.2 Horizontal Stresses

121

4-3.2.3 The Effect of Pore Pressure

122

4-3.2.4 Fracture Orientation

122

4-3.2.5 Stress Around a Wellbore and Breakdown Pressure

123

4-3.3 Fracture Shape

125

4-3.3.1 Two-Dimensional (2-D) Fracture Geometry

125

4-3.3.2 Elliptical Fracture Geometry

125

4-3.3.3 Limitations to Fracture Height Growth

126

4-3.3.4 Complex Fracture Geometry

127

4-3.4 Fracture Propagation, Toughness and Tip Effects

127

4-3.4.1 Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics

127

4-3.4.2 Significance of Fracture Toughness

129

4-3.4.3 Complexity at the Fracture Tip

130

4-3.5 Measuring Rock Mechanical Characteristics

132

4-3.5.1 Introduction

132

4-3.5.2 Methods of Measurement

132

4-3.5.3 Core Selection/Sample Preparation Considerations

134

4-3.5.4 Deducing Elastic Properties without Core

135

4-4 Fluid Rheological Characteristics

137

4-4.1 Viscosity

137

4-4.1.1 Shear Rate, Shear Stress and Viscosity

137

4-4.1.2 Measurement of Viscosity

137

4-4.2 Fluid Behavior

138

4-4.2.1 Newtonian Fluids

138

4-4.2.2 Non-Newtonian Fluids

138

4-4.2.3 Apparent Viscosity

139

4-4.3 Flow Regimes

140

4-4.3.1 Plug, Laminar and Turbulent Flow

140

4-4.3.2 Reynolds Number

140

4-4.4 Fluid Friction

141

4-4.4.1 The Influence of Flow Regime

141

4-4.4.2 Predicting Pressure Loss due to Friction

141

4-5 Optimum Treatment Design

4-5.1 Dimensionless Productivity Index and Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity

IV
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141
143

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4-5.2 Optimum Dimensionless Conductivity

144

4-5.3 Optimum Length and Width

144

4-5.4 Treatment Sizing and Proppant Placement Efficiency

145

4-5.5 Taking Into Account Operational Constraints

145

4-5.6 Using Fracture Propagation Models

146

4-5.6.1 Height containment

146

4-5.6.2 2-D models

147

4-5.6.3 3-D models

149

4-6 Predicting Production Increase

150

4-6.1 Pseudo-radial Concepts: Equivalent Wellbore Radius, Fracture Skin

150

4-6.2 Finite Reservoir Concepts, Folds of Increase

150

4-6.3 Combining Productivity Index and Material Balance

151

4-6.3.1 Pseudo-steady state

151

4-6.3.2 Combined transient and stabilized flow

151

4-6.4 Reservoir Simulation and Nodal Analysis

152

4-7 Fracturing Under Specific Circumstances

153

4-7.1 Tight Gas

153

4-7.1.1 The Importance of Inflow Area

154

4-7.1.2 Effective vs Actual Propped Length

154

4-7.2 High-Rate Gas Wells

155

4-7.2.1 Non-Darcy Flow

155

4-7.2.2 Wellbore Connectivity

155

4-7.3 High-Permeability Wells

155

4-7.3.1 The Importance of Fracture Conductivity

156

4-7.3.2 The Tip Screenout

156

4-7.4 Unconsolidated Formations

156

4-7.4.1 Re-Stressing the Formation

156

4-7.4.2 The Frac-Pack Treatment

157

4-7.5 Skin-Bypass Treatments

157

4-7.6 Condensate Dropout

158

4-7.6.1 Description of Phenomena

158

4-7.6.2 Mitigating the Effect of Dropout

158

4-7.7 Shale Gas and Coal Bed Methane

158

4-7.7.1 Gas Shales

158

4-7.7.2 Coal Bed Methane

158

4-7.8 Acid Fracturing

159

4-7.8.1 Description of Process

159

4-7.8.2 Estimating Fracture Conductivity

159

4-7.8.3 Use of Diversion Techniques

160


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Chapter 5
Well Completions

5-1 Wellbore Construction

169

5-1.1 Effects of Uncertainty in Reservoir Description

169

5-1.2 Fitting Well Design to the Reservoir Potential

169

5-1.3 Well Design

170

5-1.4 Other Well Equipment

171

5-1.5 Well Integrity

171

5-2 Gas Well Cementing

172

5-2.1 General Objectives for Gas Well Cementing Operations

172

5-2.2 Gas Well Zonal Isolation

173

5-2.3 Review of Fundamental Cement Placement Practices

174

5-2.4 Predictive Wellbore Stress Modeling

174

5-2.5 Cement Slurry Criteria for Hydraulically Fractured Gas Wells

176

5-2.5.1 Slurry Criteria for Optimized Placement

176

5-2.5.2 Slurry Criteria for Anti-Gas Migration

177

5-2.5.3 Slurry Criteria for Long-Term Zonal Isolation

178

5-2.6 Fracturing Constraints Required to Maintain Long-Term Zonal Isolation

5-3 Identifying Gas Pays, Permeability and Channels

179

179

5-3.1 Pay and Water Zone Logging Methods

179

5-3.2 Effect of Formation Clays and Micro-porosity

180

5-3.3 Wellbore Deviation and Resultant Logging and Flow Problems

181

5-3.4 Completion Considerations for Naturally Fractured Reservoirs

181

5-3.5 Formation Characterization for Well Completions

182

5-4 Sizing the Completion

183

5-4.1 Initial Design Considerations

183

5-4.2 Flow Factors for Tubing Design

184

5-4.3 Tubing Selection

185

5-4.4 Multi-Phase Flow and Natural Lift

185

5-4.5 Multiphase Flow and Flow Correlation Options

186

5-4.6 Critical Lift Factors

187

5-4.7 Liquid Hold-up and Back Pressure

188

5-4.8 Lift Options for Gas Wells

188

5-5 Completion Design for Flow Assurance

188

5-5.1 Completion Design for the Prevention of Gas Hydrates

188

5-5.2 Formation Damage in Gas Wells, Completion Damage and Scales

190

5-5.3 Organic Deposits and Condensate Banking

190

5-5.4 Effects of H2S and CO2 on Corrosion

191

VI
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5-6 Sand Control for Gas Wells

192

5-6.1 Why is the Sand Flowing?

192

5-6.2 Is Sand Flow All Bad?

192

5-6.3 Establishing and Monitoringa Sand-Free Rate

193

5-6.4 Sand Control Methods for Gas Wells

194

5-6.5 Reliability of Sand Control Completions

194

5-6.6 Repairing and Restoring Productivity in Wells hat Flow Sand

194

Chapter 6
Fracture-to-Well Connectivity

6-1 Introduction
6-2 Completion Techniques and Their Impact on Well Connectivity

201
202

6-2.1 Cased-Well Isolation Techniques

202

6-2.2 Open-Hole Completions

205

6-2.3 Open-Hole and Uncemented Liner Fracture Treatment Diversion

205

6-3 Perforating in General


6-4 Perforating for Fracturing

206
206

6-4.1 Oriented Perforations

206

6-4.2 Deviated and Horizontal Well Perforating

208

209

6-4.2.1 Production Impairment from Inefficient Fracture-to-Wellbore Contact

6-4.3 Underbalanced vs. Extreme Overbalanced Perforating

6-5 Near-Wellbore Fracture Complexity

211

213

6-5.1 Near-Wellbore Complexity

214

6-5.2 Diagnosing and Quantifying Near-Wellbore Complexity (Tortuosity)

215

6-5.3 Minimizing the Effects of Tortuosity

217

6-6 Mid- and Far-Field Fracture Complexity

218

6-6.1 An Introduction to Complex Fracture Growth

219

6-6.2 Evidence of Complex Fracture Growth

220

6-6.3 Consequences of Complex Fracture Growth

220

Chapter 7
Fracturing Fluids and Formation Damage

7-1 Introduction
7-2 Fracturing Fluid Function

7-2.1 Fracture Initiation

227
228
228

VII
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7-2.2 Proppant Transport

229

7-3 Fracturing Fluid Rheology

230

7-3.1 Pressure Loss Gradient in the Fracture

232

7-3.2 Rheology in the Presence of Proppant Material and its Relation to Settling

234

7-3.3 Impact of Fluid Rheology on Fluid Loss

235

7-3.4 Calculation of Pressure Loss in the Wellbore Using Rheological Parameters

and the Virk Maximum Drag Reduction Asymptote

235

7-3.5 Advanced Rheology

235

7-3.6 Foam Rheology

236

7-3.7 Effect of Proppant on Rheology

237

7-3.8 Laboratory Rheology Measurements

239

7-4 Types of Fracturing Fluids

242

7-4.1 Water-Based Fluids

243

7-4.1.1 Low-Viscosity Fluids

243

7-4.1.2 Crosslinked Fluids

243

7-4.1.3 Borate Crosslinked Fluids

244

7-4.1.4 Metallic Ion Crosslinked Fluids

244

7-4.1.5 Delayed-Crosslink Systems

245

7-4.1.6 Function of Breakers in Water-Based Fluids

246

7-4.1.7 Water-Based Fluids in Gas Wells

246

7-4.2 Oil-Based Fluids

247

7-4.3 Energized fluids

248

7-4.4 Foams and Emulsions

249

7-4.5 Unconventional Fluids

250

7-4.5.1 Viscoelastic Surfactant Fluids

250

7-4.5.2 Viscoelastic Surfactant Foams

251

7-4.5.3 Emulsion of Carbon Dioxide with Aqueous Methanol Base Fluid

251

7-4.5.4 Crosslinked Foams

251

7-4.5.5 Non-Aqueous Methanol Fluids

252

7-4.5.6 Liquid CO2-Based Fluids

253

7-4.5.7 Liquid CO2-Based Foam Fluid

254

7-4.6 Acid Fracturing Fluid

254

7-5 Fracturing Fluid Additives

254

7-5.1 Additives for Water-Based Fluids

254

7-5.1.1 Friction Reducers

254

7-5.1.2 Gelling Agents

255

7-5.1.3 Biocide

257

7-5.1.4 Buffers

259

7-5.1.5 Crosslinkers

259

7-5.1.6 Breakers

260

VIII
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7-5.1.7 Clay Stabilizers

262

7-5.1.8 Surfactants

262

7-6 Fluid Damage to Fractures and Sources of Productivity Impairment

262

7-6.1 Example Calculation of Productivity Impairment from Fracture Damage

264

7-6.2 Formation Damage from Saturation Changes

265

7-6.2.1 Fluid Retention

265

7-6.2.2 Rock/Fluid Interactions

267

7-6.2.3 Fluid/Fluid Interactions

267

7-6.2.4 Wettability Alterations

267

7-6.3 Formation Damage from Production

268

7-7 Fracturing Fluid Selection

268

7-7.1 Mineralogical Evaluation

269

7-7.1.1 X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) Analysis

269

7-7.1.2 Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

270

7-7.1.3 Immersion Testing

271

7-7.1.4 Capillary Suction Time Testing

271

7-7.1.5 Core Flow Analysis

271

7-8 Selection of Fracturing Fluids for Applications in Gas Wells

273

Chapter 8
Proppants and Fracture Conductivity

8-1 Introduction

283

8-1.1 Overview

283

8-1.2 The Evolution of Proppants

283

8-1.3 Fracture Conductivity

285

8.2 Conductivity Impact on Fractured Well Production Potential

286

8-2.1 How a Propped Fracture Benefits Well Flow Rate

287

8-2.2 Steady-State Solutions

288

8-2.3 Transient Solutions

288

8-3 Proppants

289

8-3.1 Sands

289

8-3.1.1 Ottawa Sands

290

8-3.1.2 Brady Sands

290

8-3.2 Ceramic Proppants

291

8-3.2.1 Sintered Bauxite

291

8-3.2.2 Intermediate Strength Ceramic Proppant

291

8-3.2.3 Lightweight Ceramic Proppant

292

8-3.3 Resin-Coated Proppants

292

IX
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8-3.4 Ultra-Lightweight Proppants

294

8-4 Proppant Properties, Testing Protocols, and Performance Considerations 295

8-4.1 Proppant Testing Procedure Standards

295

8-4.2 Proppant Sampling

296

8-4.3 Grain Size and Grain Size Distribution

297

297

8-4.3.1 Proppant Size Testing

8-4.4 Proppant Shape

298

299

8-4.4.1 Proppant Shape Testing

8-4.5 Proppant Bulk Density and Apparent Specific Gravity

299

300

8-4.5.1 Proppant Bulk Density and Specific Gravity Testing

8-4.6 Proppant Quality

300

8-4.6.1 Acid Solubility Testing

300

8-4.6.2 Turbidity Testing

301

8-4.7 Proppant Strength

301

8-4.7.1 Proppant Crush and Fines Generation

302

8-4.7.2 Crush Testing

302

8-4.8 Proppant Concentration

303

8-5 Proppant Placement

305

8-5.1 Effects on Fluid Rheology

305

8-5.2 Convection

305

8-5.3 Proppant Transport

305

8-6 Fracture Conductivity

308

8-6.1 API Short-Term Testing Procedure

308

8-6.2 ISO Long-Term Testing Procedure

309

8-6.3 Non-Darcy Flow Testing

310

8-6.4 Multiphase Flow Tests

311

8-6.5 Gel Damage

312

8-6.6 Other Factors

313

8-7 Proppant Flowback

314

8-7.1 Proppant Flowback Control

314

8-7.2 Curable Resin-Coated Proppant

315

8-7.3 Proppant Flowback Control Additives

315

8-7.3.1 Tackifiers

315

8-7.3.2 Fibers

315

8-7.3.3 Deformable Particles

315

8-8 Proppant Selection

316

8-8.1 Productivity Potential

317

8-8.2 Flowback Control

317

8-8.3 Availability

317

8-8.4 The Cost-Value Proposition

318


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Chapter 9
Execution of Hydraulic Fracturing Treatments

9-1 Introduction
9-2 Function of Equipment

323
324

9-2.1 High-Pressure Pumping Equipment

324

9-2.2 Blending Equipment

325

9-2.3 High-Pressure Treating Lines and Manifolds

326

9-2.4 Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide Pumping

326

9-2.5 Treatment Control Vans and Cabins

327

9-3 Equipment Quality Control

328

9-3.1 How Much Horsepower and What is the Pressure Rating?

328

9-3.2 How Many High-Pressure Lines and Suction Discharge Hoses to Use?

329

9-3.3 Standby Pumping and Blending Equipment

329

9-3.4 Absolute Essentials for Every Job

329

9-4 Quality Control for Fracturing Fluids

330

9-4.1 Quality Control of Water-Based Fracturing Fluids Before Arriving on Location

330

9-4.2 Fracture Fluid Blending Methods

334

9-4.3 Quality Control of Water-Based Fracture Fluids on Location

334

9-4.4 Quality Control of Other Fluid Systems

335

9-5 Quality Control of Propping Agents

9-5.1 Quality Control Guideline for Propping Agents

9-6 Quality Control and Execution of Acid Fracturing

336
338

338

9-6.1 Quality Control for Acid Fracturing

9-7.1 Diverting Agents

342

9-7.2 Ball Sealers

342

9-7.3 Limited Entry

343

9-7.4 Multi-Stage Fracturing with Mechanical Isolation

344

9-7.5 New Multi-Stage Fracturing Technology

346

9-7.6 Horizontal Well Multi-Stage Fracturing

347

9-7 Multi-Stage Fracturing and Isolation Methods

9-8 Pre-Fracture Diagnostics and Fracture Evaluation Tests


9-9 Real-Time Pressure Interpretation

339

342

347
350

9-9.1 Nolte-Smith Plot (see also Section 4-2.1.7)

350

9-9.2 Surface Treating Pressure as a Tool

351

9-9.3 The Effects of Perforations on Surface Treating Pressure

353

9-9.4 The Effects of Pipe Friction on Surface Treating Pressure

354

9-10 Fracturing Fluid Recovery (Flowback)

355
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Chapter 10
Fracturing Horizontal Wells

10-1 Introduction
10-2 Production from Transversely Fractured Gas Horizontal Wells

10-2.1 A Calculation for Transversely Fractured Gas Horizontal Wells

10-3 Open-Hole Horizontal Well Completions

363
365
366

369

10-3.1 Perforating

370

10-3.2 Zonal Isolation

370

10-4 Open-Hole Fracturing

371

10-4.1 Acid Fracturing Execution

372

10-4.2 Proppant Fracturing Execution

372

10-4.3 Cleanup

373

10-5 Cased-Hole Completions

373

10-5.1 Cementing Horizontal Wells

373

10-5.2 Perforating Cemented Completions

374

10-5.3 Zonal Isolation in Cased Completions

375

10-6 Fracturing of Cased-Hole Completions

376

10-6.1 Acid Fracture Execution

376

10-6.2 Proppant Fracturing Execution

377

10-7 Rationale and Conditions of Fracturing



Horizontal Wells in Gas Formation
377

Chapter 11
Unconventional Gas


11-1 Introduction
11-2 Description of Unconventional Reservoirs
11-3 Production Mechanisms

383
383
385

11-3.1 CBM (Coalbed Methane)

385

11-3.2 Shale Gas Reservoirs

385

11-3.3 Shale Gas Reserves

386

11-4 CBM Reservoirs

387

11-4.1 Coalbed Description

387

11-4.2 CBM Fractured Systems

388

11-4.3 Adsorption/Desorption

390

11-4.4 Stimulation Techniques

391

11-4.5 Alternate Completions and Enhanced Production Techniques

393

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11-4.6 Fracture Modeling of CBM Wells

396

11-4.7 Fracturing Treatment Evaluation of CBM Wells

397

11-4.8 Estimation of Reserves and Production Data Analysis

398

11-5 Shale Gas

400

11-5.1 Shale Description

400

11-5.2 Thermogenic and Biogenic Systems

401

11-5.3 Ft. Worth Basin Barnett Shale

402

404

11-5.3.1 Barnett Shale Slickwater Treatment Design Considerations

11-5.4 Barnett and Woodford Gas Shale, Delaware Basin

406

11-5.5 Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas

409

409

11-5.5.1 Treatment Design Considerations Fayettville Shale

11-5.6 Woodford/Caney Shale, Arkoma Basin

410

11-5.7 Floyd Shale/Conasauga Shale, Black Warrior Basin (Alabama)

412

11-5.8 Mancos and Lewis Shales

412

11-6 Shale Treatment Design and Evaluation

413

11-6.1 Stimulation and Treatment Design for Shale Reservoirs

413

11-6.2 Fracture Modeling

416

11-6.3 Summary

416

Chapter 12
Fracturing for Reservoir Development

12-1 Introduction
12-2 Impact of Fracturing on Reservoir- or Drainage-Wide Production

427
428

12-2.1 Example Application of Infield Drilling and Fracturing of Gas Wells

429

12-2.2 Transient Flow of Fractured Gas Wells

430

12-3 Forecasting Natural Gas Well Performance and Recovery

431

12-3.1 A Case Study for Reservoir Recovery Using Unfractured and Fractured Wells

431

12-3.2 Field Development Strategy

432

12-4 Impact of Fracture Azimuth on Well Planning

434

12-4.1 Determination of Fracture Azimuth

435

12-4.2 Considerations Regarding Directional Permeability in the Reservoir

435

12-4.3 Barnett Shale Case Study

437

12-5.1 Purpose of Data Mining

441

12-5.2 Data Sources

441

12-5.3 Data Preparation

442

12-5.4 Selected Data Mining Tools

442

12-5.5 Data Mining Case History

443

12-5 Data Mining Techniques

441

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Chapter 13
Technologies for Mature Assets
13-1 Introduction
13-1.1 Definition of a Mature Asset

455
455

13-1.2 Minimum Cost & Maximum Value

456

13-1.3 Motivation for Fracturing

457

13-1.4 New Technologies/Approaches

458

13-1.5 Reducing Treatment Costs

462

13-2 Candidate Selection

464

13-2.1 Regional Considerations

464

13-2.2 Neighborhood Considerations

465

13-2.3 Localized Considerations

466

13-2.4 Risk Ranking and Data Manipulation

467

13-2.5 Case Histories and Results

468

13-3 Fracture Design in Mature Fields


13-4 Depletion Considerations

469
470

13-4.1 Pore-Pressure Considerations

470

13-4.2 Fracturing Fluid Selection

472

13-4.3 Proppant Selection

473

13-4.4 Cleanout and Flowback

474

13-4.5 Mechanical Deployment

476

13-5 Re-Fracturing Operations

479

13-5.1 Re-Fracturing Case Histories

480

13-5.2 Candidate Selection for Re-Fracturing

481

13-5.3 Re-Fracture Re-Orientation

481

13-5.4 Improved Treatment Design

483

Nomenclature

491

Index

503

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Preface

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to Modern Fracturing: Enhancing Natural Gas Production. BJ Services
Company is proud to be involved in developing and publishing this work. We hope you find this book to be
instructive, informative and interesting.
This book is intended for use by all industry professionals, not just those who are already familiar with the engineering
concepts and field practices of hydraulic fracturing. The pages within comprise a state-of-the-art engineering manual
for planning, preparation, performance and evaluation of hydraulic fracture treatments in natural gas reservoirs. We
envision industry professionals throughout the world benefiting from the information in this book.
Hydraulic fracturing is already the completion method of choice for most natural gas wells in North America. As
global dependence upon natural gas increases, it seems likely the application and popularity of this completion
method will only increase further and spread farther. The techniques described within this book are applicable to all
gas reservoirs, not just to the low permeability formations typically developed in North America. We firmly believe
fracturing is the best possible completion technique for each and every gas reservoir throughout the world.
A wide range of knowledgeable authors from throughout the industry have come together to produce this book. On
behalf of BJ Services, I want to thank them for their sharing their experience and knowledge, as well as for their hard
work and dedication in completing such an ambitious project. We feel certain that in the years to come, each author
will continue to be proud of his or her involvement in this undertaking. We also trust that readers like you will
continue to improve best practices in developing natural gas resources worldwide with the insights derived from
this significant work.
Dave Dunlap
Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, BJ Services

XV
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Foreword

I was very pleased when my friend Michael Economides asked me to write the Preface to his new book. BJ Services
Company should be complimented for sponsoring this effort and for attracting some of the worlds top experts to
contribute. I know many of the contributors, and I am sure the result will be lasting and useful for years to come.

I am even more pleased that this specific book is put together for three reasons. The first is that natural gas will shortly
become the premier fuel of the world economy. Second, hydraulic fracturing, already the most important production
enhancement technique for oil wells, is absolutely indispensable for natural gas wells. Third, the existing know-how and
skill sets of the fracturing community are dreadfully inadequate, especially in management.

Fracturing in the petroleum industry is no longer an experimental or daring activity by some hot-shot, brash engineers,
often working against the established old thinking and even worse, conservative managers who still believe that economics
equal cost reduction, ignoring the benefit from improved well performance. When enhanced production and injection
performance is the motivation, nothing can compete with properly integrated fracturing.

Often, people are confused about the real impact from this well completion and stimulation technique. Most often, any
improvement in production compared to what a well did before fracturing is considered a success. In reality, we already
know how much a well should be producing after fracturing by using the concept of maximizing the JD, the dimensionless
productivity index. Anything less than that should be considered a performance gap and managed as such. We have to
push the limits and manage the completion and execution community to deliver what we know can be done.

All activities in a company must be integrated with hydraulic fracturing. We are by definition can-do people. So the idea
that ultra-high production targets are unrealistic and theoretical should be replaced by developing and implementing
the know-how and skill sets to deliver maximum performance.

Consider this: When my associates and I (including Michael) were working in Russia, in a five-year period we managed
to double a companys production, increasing by 20% per year to almost 2 million barrels per day while shutting-in 50%
of the original well stock. Most of this success occurred by pushing the limits of hydraulic fracturing and integrating the
other parts of the production system. And despite this success, we were constantly enhancing materials and increasing job
sizes to push the calculated performance limits. We established two management rules:
1. All new wells and workovers must be fractured unless top management approves otherwise.
2. All frac jobs must be designed and executed to perform at the peak of the NPV bell curve unless top management
approves otherwise.
The point is that many companies require approval to do it right but delegate enough financial authority, no approval
required, to do it wrong. We reversed this by giving enough authority (no approval required) to do it right and required
top management approval to do it wrong.
It is not so difficult to reproduce the same performance everywhere else. Just look at current worldwide well performance,
and one can easily see huge gaps, including the largest and best-known multinational oil companies. Fracturing can go a
long way to correct this obvious problem. Not only will the benefit to companies be immediate and large, but silly talk
about peak oil and twilight in the desert will go away.

Joe Mach - February 2007

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Contributing Authors
Editors
Michael J. Economides, University of Houston
Tony Martin, BJ Services

Authors
Bob Bachman, Taurus Reservoir Solutions
Steve Baumgartner, BJ Services
Harold Brannon, BJ Services
Andronikos Demarchos, Hess Corporation
Michael J. Economides, University of Houston
John Ely, Ely & Associates, Inc.
Satya Gupta, BJ Services
Robert Hawkes, BJ Services
Barry Hlidek, BJ Services
George King, BP
Randy Lafollette, BJ Services

David Mack, Marathon Oil


Mark Malone, BJ Services
Tony Martin, BJ Services
C. Mark Pearson, Golden Energy, LLC
David Ross, InTuition Energy Associates Ltd.
Martin Rylance, BP
Gary Schein, BJ Services
Peter Valk, Texas A&M University
Leen Weijers, Pinnacle Technologies
Xiuli Wang, BP
Don Wolcott, Aurora Oil and Gas

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Acknowledgements

First and foremost, the editors would like to express their sincere gratitude to JC Mondelli, who has been the
champion of this book within BJ Services from its initial conception, all the way through to printing and publication.
Without his perseverance and vision, this publication would never have come about. We would also like to thank
the senior management of BJ Services for providing funding and, especially, for allowing a great number of highly
dedicated people to put their time and energy into writing chapters, in spite of their busy schedules.
Our thanks to Joe Mach for gracing the book with his Preface and endorsement, and who also, in his unique
style, reminded all of us why doing this book mattered in the first place.
Writing this book was an added task both for our BJ Services colleagues and those from other companies and
institutions, and the result is a testament to their dedication and professionalism. Putting together a multi-authored,
multi-edged book is never an easy task and to no small measure, the authors deserve particular praise for persevering
and having to respond to suggestions and editorial interference by two admittedly highly demanding and opinionated
Editors. Compliments and credit are deserved by all of them, without whom this project would not have been
possible.
Special thanks go to Greg Salerno who shepherded many of the logistical tasks and kept a level-headed approach
on the day-to-day management of the project. Thanks also to Garth Gregory and Margaret Kirick for their invaluable
help with the organisation and administration of this undertaking.
The copy-editor Stephanie Weiss served a key role in the final version of the book. She is a highly experienced
and exceptional technical copy editor, a formidable vacuum cleaner for cleaning up deficiencies, omissions and
errors. Her work reminded all that adherence to detail and perfection are essential in elevating a professional book to
a different level. She was a rare find.
Alexander M. Economides and his staff in the Energy Tribune, headed by Jay Clark and the publication assistants
Alex Lewis and George Song, did a spectacular job in producing the book. They deserve special praise.
Michael J. Economides and Tony Martin - September 2007

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Michael J. Economides is a professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, and the
managing partner of a petroleum engineering and petroleum strategy consulting firm. His interests include
petroleum production and petroleum management with a particular emphasis on natural gas, natural gas
transportation, LNG, CNG and processing; advances in process design of very complex operations, and
economics and geopolitics. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Energy Tribune. Previously he was the
Samuel R. Noble Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University and served as chief scientist
of the Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI). Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M University,
Economides was director of the Institute of Drilling and Production at the Leoben Mining University
in Austria. Before that, he worked in a variety of senior technical and managerial positions with a major
petroleum services company. Publications include authoring or co-authoring 14 professional textbooks and
books, including The Color Of Oil, and more than 200 journal papers and articles. Economides does a wide
range of industrial consulting, including major retainers by national oil companies at the country level and
by Fortune 500 companies. He has had professional activities in over 70 countries.
Tony Martin is business development manager for international stimulation at BJ Services Company. Since
graduating from Imperial College, London, with an honors degree in mechanical engineering and a master's
degree in petroleum engineering, Martin has spent 17 years in the oil industry and has completed engineering
assignments around the world. Martin's primary interest has been hydraulic fracturing and stimulation, and
he has been involved in production enhancement projects in more than 25 countries. He teaches fracturing,
acidizing and sand control both in-house and externally. A constant theme in this teaching is the need
to de-mystify the world of hydraulic fracturing, in an attempt to make the process more accessible and
less intimidating. He is the author or co-author of numerous SPE papers and has served on the technical
committees for several SPE events. He is also the author of BJ Services Hydraulic Fracturing Manual.

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Chapter 1
Introduction to this Book
Michael J. Economides, University of Houston and
Tony Martin, BJ Services

1-1 Introduction
This is a book about enhancing natural gas production
using one of the most important and widespread well
completion technologies hydraulic fracturing.
The book addresses the way that natural gas is
produced from natural reservoirs (Chapter 2) and then
describes diagnostic techniques that can pinpoint whether
the well is producing as it should or whether intervention
should be undertaken (Chapter 3), which is the central
theme of this book.
Hydraulic fracturing is introduced as the solution
of choice, showing the idiosyncratic nature of natural
gas wells compared to oil wells (Chapter 4). The
subsequent two chapters address important peripheral
issues whose successful or failed resolution may affect
the well performance with equal or even more serious
consequences than the fracture treatment itself. These
issues include well completions (Chapter 5) and the
extremely important well-to-reservoir (and fracture)
connectivity (Chapter 6).
The next two chapters deal with materials for
fracturing: fluids and proppants (Chapters 7 and 8). Their
selection is essential to the successful execution of the
treatment. The execution itself becomes the next chapter,
and practical issues are addressed there (Chapter 9).
Then some modern applications are described.
One chapter deals with fracturing horizontal wells,
increasingly an important option among reservoir
exploitation strategies (Chapter 10). Not only new
well architecture but also newer reservoir targets are
opening up, and natural gas demand points towards
unconventional sources, namely coalbed methane
(CBM), shale gas and very low-permeability formations.
Technology makes their exploitation possible, and this
is the subject of the next chapter (Chapter 11).
Finally, two issues round out the book:
Fracturing is employed in the full development of
reservoirs (Chapter 12); and how mature fields, a

mainstay of the developed world such as the United


States and Europe, can be revitalized through
this process (Chapter 13).
Before the technical issues are addressed it is
essential to look at natural gas in the world economy,
why it is becoming increasingly important and what
are the reasons for all the excitement surrounding its
enhanced production.

1-2 Natural Gas in the World Economy


Although natural gas, with some 23% of all world energy
demand in 2005, is still slightly behind coal (25.6%) as
the worlds third-largest source of primary energy (oil
still dominates at 38%), it is poised to move up because
of significantly emerging new trade. Member countries
in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) and the USA, specifically,
consume about 51% and 22% respectively of global
natural gas, now comprising about 103 Tcf (2.9 Bm3) per
year (Energy Information Administration, EIA, 2007).

Figure 1-1 The top 12 holders of natural gas reserves:


Russia, Iran and Qatar dominate (EIA, 2006, BP
Statistical Review, 2006, ET, 2007)

There are several obvious benefits to the use of


natural gas. First, it is the cleanest-burning fossil fuel
and produces fewer emissions and pollutants than either
oil or, especially, coal. Second, the resource is becoming
increasingly diverse. Since the early 1970s, world reserves
of natural gas have been increasing steadily, at an annual


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Modern Fracturing
Table 1-1 Top 25 Countries Ranked According to Proved Natural Gas Reserves and identifying the proved
reserves-to-production ratio (R/P) for each country
Proved Natural Gas Reserves at January 1, 2006

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

Country

Trillion Cubic
Feet (Tcf)

Trillion Cubic
Meters (Tm3)

Share of Total

Russian Federation
Iran
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
United Arab Emirates
USA
Nigeria
Algeria
Venezuela
Iraq
Kazakhstan
Turkmenistan
Indonesia
Australia
Malaysia
Norway
China
Egypt
Uzbekistan
Canada
Kuwait
Libya
Netherlands
Azerbaijan
Ukraine
Total World
Sum of Top 25 Countries

1688
944
910
244
213
193
185
162
152
112
106
102
97
89
88
85
83
67
65
56
55
53
50
48
39
6347.79
5885

47.8
26.7
25.8
6.9
6.0
5.5
5.2
4.6
4.3
3.2
3.0
2.9
2.8
2.5
2.5
2.4
2.4
1.9
1.9
1.6
1.6
1.5
1.4
1.4
1.1
179.82
166.7

26.6%
14.9%
14.3%
3.8%
3.4%
3.0%
2.9%
2.5%
2.4%
1.8%
1.7%
1.6%
1.5%
1.4%
1.4%
1.3%
1.3%
1.1%
1.0%
0.9%
0.9%
0.8%
0.8%
0.8%
0.6%
100%
92.7%

Rest of World

463

13.1

7.3%

rate of some 5%. Similarly, the number of countries


with known reserves has also increased from around 40
in 1960 to about 85 in 2005. The distribution among
those countries, dominating the global proved reserves of
natural gas, is shown in Fig. 1-1 and Table 1-1.
One reason for anticipated increase in demand for
natural gas is the public concern over environmental
issues. Furthermore, forecasts of rapid increase in
natural gas demand over the next two decades, in the
biggest market of all, the United States, have been
exacerbated by forecasts of declining production.
Declining production forecasts have been extended to
Canada, a reliable provider to the US thus far (EIA,
Annual Energy Outlook, 2007).
Although natural gas demand is expected to
increase, such an increase in the near future will
be driven by additional demand from current uses,

Cumulative
Share of Total
26.6%
41.5%
55.8%
59.6%
63.0%
66.0%
68.9%
71.5%
73.9%
75.6%
77.3%
78.9%
80.5%
81.9%
83.2%
84.6%
85.9%
86.9%
88.0%
88.8%
89.7%
90.5%
91.3%
92.1%
92.7%

Reserves /
Production (R/P)
Years
80.0
>100
>100
99.3
>100
10.4
>100
52.2
>100
>100
>100
49.3
36.3
67.9
41.4
28.3
47.0
54.4
33.2
8.6
>100
>100
22.3
>100
58.7
65.1

primarily power generation. There is yet little overlap


between the use of natural gas and oil in all large
markets. However, certain developments on the
horizon, including the electrifying of transportation,
will push natural gas use to ever higher levels.
Although potential natural gas supplies abound
throughout the world, facilities and infrastructure
to receive and distribute the product to market are
expensive to build, and their development can easily be
hindered by geopolitics. These reasons have historically
inhibited natural gas from reaching its full potential in
the worlds energy markets. Natural gas is transported
either by pipeline (73% of internationally traded gas
in 2005, EIA 2007), mainly across land masses, and
by liquefied natural gas (LNG) transportation across
the oceans (the remaining 27%). The rapid expansion
of LNG infrastructure worldwide in the past decade is


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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

enabling natural gas to penetrate many more markets


through the development of many remote reserves once
considered to be stranded and uneconomic to develop.
Ongoing construction and plans to expand and build
new LNG receiving terminals in North America
(Canada, Mexico and the United States) are opening
up rapidly growing gas imports, destined to support
many new LNG supply chains worldwide. European
and Asian markets are also hungry for LNG.
But beyond the usual energy-demanding markets,
China and India have both emerged from the developing
world to become globally significant economies in their
own right, both requiring massive energy imports to
sustain future economic growth. But their approaches are
very different; China is focused on manufacturing, India
more on services. However, both have large populations
with aspirations to lead high-energy consuming lifestyles.
Together, they are promoting globalization that is putting
pressure on the worlds energy resources and existing
supply chain, traditionally directed to serving the OECD
world. The rapid growth in China and India over the
last few years has precipitated huge increases in demand
for all energy sources, because of their lack of sufficient
indigenous energy resources. This has left the rest of
the world scrambling for the same sources of energy,
including natural gas. The US is hampered by the myriad
permit approvals required and public opposition to siting
of LNG receiving terminals. Nevertheless, major US
companies and others are investing heavily in building
new LNG liquefaction infrastructure in Qatar, several
countries in West Africa and Russias Sakhalin Island.
Transportation is an essential aspect of the gas
business because gas reserves are often quite distant
from the main markets. Gas is far more cumbersome
than oil to transport, and the majority of gas is
transported by pipeline. There are well-developed
networks in Europe and North America and a relatively
adequate one in the former Soviet Union. However,
in its gaseous state, natural gas is quite bulky for the
same time, a high-pressure pipeline can transmit only
about one-fifth of the amount of energy that can be
transmitted in an oil pipeline of the same size, even
though gas travels much faster. When gas is cooled to
160 C it becomes liquid and much more compact,
occupying 1/600 of its standard gas volume. Where
long overseas distances are involved, transporting gas

in its liquid state becomes economic. But the supply


chain consists of expensive and specialized facilities
both upstream and downstream, and generally requires
dedicated marine vessels.
The LNG industry is set for a large and sustained
expansion as improved technology has reduced costs
and improved efficiency along the entire supply chain
during the past decade. This shift in the dynamics of
the natural gas market will further commoditize and
diversify the natural gas globally. New LNG carriers
are 1000 ft long and require a minimum water depth
of 40 ft when fully loaded. The global fleet of LNG
carriers reached 217 by the end of 2006 (Wood et al.,
2006) with more than 11 million tons of LNG capacity.
The order book for new LNG marine carriers to 2010
is some 120 firm and 32 proposed, meaning the future
fleet may exceed 370 vessels by the end of 2010. The fleet
was just 90 vessels in 1995 and 127 vessels in 2000. The
current fleet transports more than 140 million metric
tons of LNG every year (converted to 7 Tcf), about
23% of gas trade internationally and about 6.5% of
total gas consumed worldwide.
Below is a discussion of the state of natural
gas in three of the most important countries/
regions of the world which, for different reasons,
are defining the present and future of natural
gas in the world economy.

1-3 Russia: A Critical Evaluation of its


Natural Gas Resources
The dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its
replacement by the Commonwealth of Independent
States (CIS), prominent among which was the Russian
Federation, was a significant geopolitical event, affecting
the subsequent development of Russian resources
particularly natural gas. Contrary to widely held beliefs,
if current trends continue, Russia likely will have a severe
natural gas shortfall by 2010 (Moscow Institute of Energy
Research, 2007). This prediction is astonishing, given
that Russia has more gas reserves than any other country,
and one of the largest reserves-to-production ratios.
One of the reasons for the looming gas shortfall is
that over the past several years, Russia has not invested
sufficiently and lacks the technology to develop new gas
fields to replace its rapidly depleting ones.


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Figure 1-2 Russian gas resources, infrastructure, pipelines and future plans

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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

1-3.1 The Resource Base


Russia has the worlds largest proven natural gas
reserves, estimated at 1,680 Tcf (EIA, 2007), about
double those of Iran, the next largest. Russia is also the
largest gas producer and exporter. In 2004, Russias gas
production exceeded 22.4 Tcf and exports totaled 7.1
Tcf. In addition, the gas industry plays a significant
role in the Russian economy, contributing about
26% of total GDP in 2004 (ET, 2007). Fig. 1-2 is an
annotated map of Russia with all important natural
gas-related information (EIA, 2007, www.Gazprom.
com, and BP Statistical review, 2006).
Table 1-2 The Worlds Largest Natural Gas
Reservoirs (EIA, 1994-2004, Interfax,
2005,www.gazprom.com, ET, 2007)

Figure 1-1 compares Russian gas reserves with those


of the other major gas producing countries. Table 1-2
lists the 13 largest gas fields in the world. As is shown,
Russia owns two-thirds of them (ET, 2007, EIA, 2007,
www.Gazprom.com, and BP Statisitcal review, 2006).
Gazprom, tracing its origins to the Soviet Gas
Ministry, is the dominant gas company in Russia.
Fig. 1-3 shows Russias total gas production and
consumption and Gazproms contribution from 2000
to 2005, which accounts for about 80%. Gazprom
is not only Russias largest gas producer, it also owns
the entire gas pipeline infrastructure in Russia all
155,000 km of it, along with the compressor stations.
In addition, Gazprom controls the sole means of
getting gas to domestic and export markets.
24
22
20
Tcf/year

There are complicated reasons behind


the state of Russias natural gas industry. A
thorough understanding of the industry and its
history is required before we can discuss its future
(see Section 1-3.2).
Next, we examine Russias natural gas reserves,
production and transportation.

Total Production

18

Gazprom's Share

16
14

Panhandle-Hugoton

South Pars

Hassi RMel

Bovanenko

Medvezhye

100
50
0

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13

12
2000

Total Consumption
2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

Figure 1-3 Russian gas production and consumption and


Gazproms contribution (EIA, 2004-2006, Interfax, 2005,
www.gazprom.com, ET, 2007)
Kharasevey

150

Shtokman

200

Orenburg

250

Yamburg

300

Urengoy*

350

North Dome, 1,200 (Tcf)

400

Zapolyarnoye

450

Umm Shaif/Abu el-Bukush

*Urengoy had been the worlds


largest gas field for years until the
North Dome was discovered.

Field
North Dome
Urengoy
Yamburg
Orenburg
Shtokman
Umm Shaif/Abu el-Bukush
Zapolyarnoye
Kharasevey
Bovanenko
Medvezhye
Hassi RMel
South Pars
Panhandle-Hugoton

Reserves
1,200
275
200
200
200
175
150
150
125
100
100
100
80

Location
Qatar/Iran
Russia
Russia
Russia
Russia
Abu Dhabi
Russia
Russia
Russia
Russia
Algeria
Iran
U.S.A.

The reason that Russia has given Gazprom control


over its natural gas is the so-called social obligation.
Through Gazprom, the Russian government subsidizes
its inefficient domestic industries with low-priced
natural gas. Gazprom sells most of its gas to domestic
customers at a considerable discount. The wholesale
price of 1,000 m3 of gas for a Russian household is
around $15.90 (about $0.45/Mscf ). For industrial
users, gas costs around $24.20 ($0.69/Mscf ). By
comparison, in the European Union, household tariffs
range from Finlands $159 ($4.50/Mscf ) to Denmarks
$735 ($20.82/Mscf, ET, 2007). Clearly, Gazprom
is losing large amounts of money on domestic sales,
compared to international market prices, and must rely
on export revenues for the difference.


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Modern Fracturing

1-3.2 Russian Natural Gas Production


Gazprom holds about one-third of the worlds natural
gas reserves and produces about 80% of Russias
natural gas. The remaining percentage comes from
independent producers. The company operates 155,000
km of natural gas pipeline and 43 compressor stations.
As the worlds largest producer and exporter, Russia
is also a huge consumer of natural gas. The country
produces an annual 21 Tcf, consuming 14.5 Tcf and
exporting the rest (2002 numbers from EIA and ET,
2007). Despite the countrys huge reserves, natural
gas production has remained essentially flat over the
past several years, with a mild production increase
(1.3%) forecast for 2008. In contrast to the natural gas
stagnation, oil production has flourished.
The immediate future of natural gas production
in Russia does not allow for much optimism. The
overall production decline forecast for Gazprom is
quite steep, as shown in Fig. 1-4 (Moscow Institute of
Energy Research, 2006).
Considering that Russias domestic consumption
is increasing by 2.5% annually, the current demand
in Europe, Turkey and the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS) for up to 325 Bm3 (ET,
2007), and Chinas demand for 38 Bm3 (Moscow
Institute of Energy Research, 2006) its clear that
additional sources of natural gas must be found if
Russia wants to play a major role in the future natural
gas market. Its equally clear that the problem of Russias
looming gas shortage can only be solved by optimizing
existing fields and through the rapid development and
production of major fields such as Yamal, Shtokman

and Sakhalin. Obviously, implementing these solutions


will require a substantial investment that Gazprom has
not yet been able to make.
One scenario for the potential contribution
of independent producers shows a net increase of
100 Bm3 per year by 2010 (Moscow Institute of
Energy Research, 2006).
600
Gazp
ro

ms
fo

500

Combined Bcm/year

Gazproms major challenge is the aging of its major


producing gas fields. Production from these fields is
declining and studies project steep declines in Russias
overall natural gas output between 2008 and 2020.
According to projections from the Moscow-based Institute
of Energy Research (2006), Russia will face a gas shortfall
of about 100 Bm3 by 2010. Considering that Russia owns
the largest gas reserves in the world and one of the largest
reserves-to-production ratios (81.5 years compared to
Algerias 55.4 and Canadas 8.8, for example, from EIA,
2007, calculated by ET, 2007), the future of Russian
natural gas production efforts is important globally.

rec
ast
p

rod
uct
io

nd
ec
lin
e

400

300

200

100

0
2004

2010

Others
Orenburg
Astrakhan
Urengoyskoye(achimov)
Ety-Purovskoye
Yuzhno-Russkoye
Vyngayahinskoye
Pestsovoye
Yubileynoye

2015

2020

Zapadno-Tarkosalinskoye
Komsomol'skoye
Zapolyarnoye
Medvezhye
Aner'yakhinskoye
Kharvutinskoye
Yabburgskoye
En-Yakhinskoye
Urengoyskoye

Figure 1-4 Gazproms production decline forecast (Moscow


Institute of Energy Research, 2007)

1-4 Alaska, its Natural Gas Resources


and their Impact on US Imports
It has been known for many decades that Alaska has
prolific hydrocarbon resources, first with the discovery
of oil in the south central part (Cook Inlet) in the
1960s and then with the 1969 discovery of Prudhoe
Bay, the USs largest field. Oil has been successfully
commercialized in Alaska since the 1970s construction
of the Trans-Alaskan pipeline that stretches from the
North Slope to Southern Alaska. From there, oil is
shipped to the lower 48 states.


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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

1-4.1 Alaskan Reserves and Production


There are two major hydrocarbon producing areas
in Alaska today: the Cook Inlet region in southcentral Alaska and the Prudhoe Bay complex on the
North Slope. The proved gas reserves for the Cook
Inlet and the North Slope are 2 Tcf (6% of total)
and 27 Tcf (94% of the total), respectively (EIA,
2007). Currently all the gas produced on the North
Slope is re-injected for pressure maintenance except
for the gas needed to maintain field operations
and fuel the local villages.
Figure 1-5 shows the historical production and
the prediction of natural gas production to 2025.
As can be seen, the 2006 production from the two
areas is approximately 490 Bcf per year of gas and
is expected to decrease to 240 Bcf per year by 2025
(Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 2006).

Clearly, Cook Inlet gas production is on decline while


North Slope gas production remains stable with its
market limited to the local market without a natural
gas export pipeline to larger markets.
600
Cook Inlet

North Slope

500
400
Bcf/Year

300
200
100

2024

2018

2012

2006

2000

1994

1988

1982

1976

1970

1964

0
1958

Despite the success of Alaskan oil production,


and although it is widely known that natural gas
exists in large quantities in the state, two important
questions have always arisen: 1) in what kind and
size of reservoirs is the gas trapped and 2) how can
it be commercialized? Furthermore, after 30 years of
Alaskan oil production and almost 15 years after its
production peak, substantial natural gas exploitation
from the state is still not forthcoming.
We are convinced that Alaska has a very large
natural gas resource base, larger than commonly
accepted. Beyond the conventional gas reserves
on the North Slope (about 100 Tcf ) and Cook
Inlet (at least 30 Tcf ), perhaps as much as 1000
Tcf are in the form of coalbed methane and, at
least, 500 Tcf as natural gas hydrates (Anchorage
Chamber of Commerce, 2005).
Economic and technical obstacles abound. The
cost for exploiting conventional reserves, with or
without government subsidies, has been a hindering
factor, but other factors such as the emerging
large LNG trade are having an impact. The most
important question is whether Alaskan gas will be
commercialized any time in the foreseeable future,
and we shall discuss this issue in detail. This has major
implications on the future of the state, the USA and
the natural gas trade into the country.

Figure 1-5 Historic and forecast gas production (Alaska


Department of Natural Resources, 2006)

The forecast in Fig. 1-5 is only for the current proved


reserves of natural gas. If we consider the unconventional
resources in Alaska, the natural gas resource base grows
much larger. However the technology and economics
for developing the unconventional resource base are
major blockers. The two main unconventional gas
reservoirs that capture a lot of attention are coalbed
methane and natural gas hydrates.
It is estimated that coalbed methane is prevalent
in the northern and southern parts of the state, shown
on the map in Fig. 1-6 (Alaska Department of Natural
Resources, 2006).
Sonora

Guadalupe

15

Barrow

Hermosillo

Russia

Alaska
Fort Yukon

Empalme

Guaymas
Fairbanks

Nome

Ciudad Obregon
Canada
Navojoa
Anchorage
Bering Sea
Bituminous & Higher Rank

Huatabampo
Cordova
Los Mochis

Subbituminous
Lignite
Rual Sites with Sufficient
Data for Drill Testing
of Coalbed Methane
Potential

Ciudad Constitucion

Baja California Sur

La Paz

Pacific Ocean

Figure 1-6 Location of potential coalbed methane


reservoirs (Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 2006)


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Modern Fracturing

Alaskas estimated coal resources exceed 5.5


trillion tons and may contain up to 1,000 Tcf of gas
(Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 2006).
In 1994 the Alaska Div. of Oil and Gas drilled the
states first coalbed methane test well near the town of
Wasilla, located in the northern portion of Cook Inlet
Basin. The well was drilled to a total depth of 1245 ft;
coal was continuously encountered, with the thickest
seam measuring 6.5 ft and a net coal thickness of 41
ft. Thirteen seams were sampled for gas content. The
results were encouraging, but as elsewhere they are
likely to suffer from the standard CBM problems:
low permeability, water disposal and difficult and
expensive application of hydraulic fracturing and
horizontal well technologies.
Our current assessment of the total resource base
for natural gas in Alaska, derived from a number of
references, is shown in Fig. 1-7.
Cook Inlet
Conventional,
30, 2%

A gas pipeline from the North Slope through Canada


to the Lower 48 states.
An All-Alaska gas pipeline from the North Slope to
Valdez, where the gas would be converted into LNG
and taken to markets outside Alaska in LNG tankers.
A spur line to take natural gas from one or more
off-take points on the main gas pipeline (whichever
route it takes) and deliver that gas to customers and
users in Alaska.
All Alaska
LNG shipped from All Alaska
Y-Branches from All Alaska

North Slope
Conventional,
100, 6%

Sonora

Northern Route

Guadalupe

Southern Route

15

Barrow

Hermosillo

Alaska
Fort Yukon
Nome

Empalme

Fairbanks
Guaymas
Ciudad Obregon
Canada
Navojoa
Anchorage

Bering Sea

Huatabampo
Cordova
Los Mochis
Juneau

Ciudad Constitucion
North Slope
Hydrates,
529, 32%

Unalaska

Baja California Sur

Guasave
Sinaloa
Prince
Rupert
La Paz

Pacific Ocean
CBM, 1000,
60%

Figure 1-7 Natural gas resource base in Alaska (Williams


et al., 2005, Meyers, 2005, Hite, 2006, and Kornfeld, 2002)

It is clear the 2006 resource assessment shows


the majority of potential reserves are locked in
unconventional reservoirs. For these plays to be
developed, investment and technology hurdles will
need to be overcome.
1-4.2 The Uncertain Destiny of the North Slope of
Alaska Natural Gas
Methods to deliver natural gas to market from the North
Slope of Alaska have been studied and proposed for over
30 years. The various schemes can be grouped into three
major categories, with variations in each (Anchorage
Chamber of Commerce, 2005). See Fig. 1-8.

Figure 1-8 Potential Alaskan natural gas pipeline routes

There are two variations on the gas pipeline to the


Lower 48 states proposal: the Northern Route and the
Southern Route. The Northern Route, also referred to as the
ARC over-the-top route (ARC is for the Artic Resources
Company that first proposed such a gas pipeline in
the early 1980s), would start from Prudhoe Bay, move
offshore into the Beaufort Sea and run parallel to the
coastline eastward into Canada to the Mackenzie River
Delta, where up to 20 Tcf of natural gas reserves are just
waiting to be produced. From there, if Canadians have
already built a pipeline to transport the Mackenzie River
reserves to Alberta, the Alaskan Northern Route would
simply reach and merge with it.
On the other hand, if Canadians havent started
yet to exploit the Mackenzie Delta reserves and
a pipeline to Alberta is not available, the Northern
Route pipeline would be extended to Alberta, and

10
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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

1-4.3 Alaska in the Context of the United States and


Canadian Natural Gas
The current situation of the oil and gas industry in
Canada adds substantial reasons for considering the
over-the-top Northern Route (the green line on Fig.
1-8) the most suitable option for the whole NorthAmerican continent.
Canada has been a net exporter of natural gas
for many years, and all of that exported gas has been
imported into the United States. This gas comprises
about 90% of the natural gas imported into the
US and about 17% of the total US natural gas
consumption. Although this relationship has been

25
20
15
10
5

Coalbed Methane
Mackenzie Delta

Conventional Gas
Nova Scotia

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

0
2006

The Southern Route, also known as the Alaska


Natural Gas Transportation System or as the Foothills,
would also start from Prudhoe Bay, but it would go
south half-way the length of Alaska, just south of
Fairbanks, and then cross into the Yukon and north
eastern British Columbia.
The All-Alaska route, also known as the Yukon
Pacific LNG Proposal, would start from Prudhoe Bay, run
for 805 miles parallel to the Trans-Alaska oil pipeline to
Valdez and then turn to the east to Anderson Bay.
A final (but tremendously important) part of the
All-Alaska proposal would be the construction of a
liquefaction and shipment plant in the Anderson Bay, to
enable shipping as LNG the natural gas coming from the
North Slope to Asian markets (Japan mainly) and potential
terminals along the Canadian and US West Coast.

2005

Rerouting Prudhoe Bay natural gas in the Canadian


pipelines network that currently delivers Alberta gas
to markets in Canada and the Lower 48 states.
Building a dedicated pipeline that would transport
Prudhoe Bay natural gas straight to the Northern
Midwest pipeline network.

successful for many years, Canada can no longer


be relied upon to single-handedly secure the future
of US natural gas supply.
A declining conventional natural gas resource
has pushed Canada into investing in arctic, CBM and
tight gas plays. To date however, those unconventional
resources have contributed a very small percentage to
that countrys overall production of natural gas.
As is apparent in Fig. 1-9, the conventional
natural gas supply in Canada is predicted to
decline by roughly 35% from 2005 to 2020, while
the production of unconventional/stranded gas is
expected to increase dramatically by 2012 (CAPP,
2006a). This assumes in part the construction of the
Mackenzie pipeline to get arctic gas to the south as
well as an expectation that CBM will be economic
to produce within the next two decades.

Production, Bcf/D

in all probability it would still offer the prospect to


carry also the Mackenzie gas along with the North
Slope gas. After the Alaskan natural gas is delivered in
Alberta, there still would be the open issue of how to
carry it down to the rest of the United States.
The two systems currently discussed and proposed
to accomplish this goal are:

Figure 1-9, Canadian natural gas production forecast


(CAPP, 2006a)

The amount of gas Canada will have left over


to export to the US remains in question, and this
is what may push the building of the North Slope
pipeline. The first issue is that Canadian natural gas
consumption is expected to increase by 1.6% per year.
This equates to a demand of almost 12 Bcf per day by
2020 (Stringham, 2006.). However, this consumption
does not include the gas that will be needed to produce
the Canadian tar sands.
That Canada expects to be producing about 4
million barrels a day by 2020 (CAPP, 2006b, Fig. 110) means more of Canadas natural gas will be used
for this purpose. In fact, the 0.5 Mcf of gas needed to
process each barrel of this crude equates to at least 2
Bcf per day natural gas needed to meet the production
forecast for Canadas oil sands.

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Modern Fracturing
5000

1-5 Qatar Natural Gas

4500

1000
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100

Figure 1-11 Dominant natural gas producers in the


Middle East (after EIA, 2006)

12
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Ira
n

tar
Qa

ud
iA

rab

ia

UA
E

Sa

This, of course, causes some concern because the


total natural gas production from Canada in 2020 is
expected to be about 18 Bcf per day, and Canada will
be using 14 Bcf per day for its needs. This leaves 4 Bcf
per day suitable to be exported to the US. However,
the demand in the US over the next several years is far
greater than what Canada can provide.
The over-the-top Northern Route is surely not the
ultimate solution to the constantly growing hunger for
natural gas in North America. The over-the-top pipeline
may never be built because of competition from LNG
imports, which are expected to boom in the next several
years if additional terminals can be built.
Our assessment of the Alaskan gas resources, and
in particular the North Slope basin, indicates some
opportunities to develop a sustained market for natural
gas with the U.S. Lower 48 states and Eastern Asian
destinations (mainly Japan, South Korea and Taiwan)
via LNG shipments. This motivates all the projects
proposed by several groups of advocates for transporting
the natural gas produced in the North Slope into the
Lower 48 states market, as well as Eastern Asia.
Nevertheless, a wide set of reasons leads us to believe
that these projects cannot even be considered marginally
competitive to LNG, especially when compared to the
economically superior LNG shipped from the recently
developed fields and facilities in countries such as Qatar,
Russia, Australia and Indonesia. In fact, as is usual for
large construction projects, the technical feasibility of
North Slope natural gas exploitation must be weighed
against the inexorable balance of the economics. This
is the bottleneck where all the advocated Alaskan gas
pipeline schemes become difficult to justify.

Figure 1-10 Prediction of Canadian heavy oil sands


growth (CAPP, 2006b)

Ira
q

20
20

20
18

20
16

Oil Sands

Eg
yp

Conventional

20
14

20
12

20
0
20 9
10

20
07

20
05

20
03

20
01

wa
it

500

Ku

1000

an

1500

Om

2000

Yem
en

2500

Qatar is a small, independent nation on the western


coast of the Persian Gulf. The country has good
relationships with its Middle Eastern neighbors
like Iran, and it has been leading the region
in democratic reforms.
Before the discovery of its vast hydrocarbon
reserves, dominated by natural gas, Qatar was a poor
country. However, by 2006 Qatar had achieved one of
the worlds highest per capita gross domestic products
(Central Intelligence Agency, 2006).
Figure 1-11 shows that compared to its neighbors
in the Middle East, Qatar is a leader in natural gas
reserves. Iran and Qatar have comparable amounts of
gas reserves. This is because Qatars super giant North
Field and Irans super giant South Pars Field overlie on
the broad Qatar arch. The Qatar arch subdivides the
Khuff formations into two basins located northwest
(North Field) and south east (South Pars). The North
Field reservoir boundary is the political boundary
between Iranian and Qatari waters as shown in Fig.
1-12. (Note: The names of the fields in Fig. 1-12, at
times cause confusion. Qatars North Field is north of
Qatar but south of the Iranian demarcation boundary.
The Iranian field known as South Pars is actually
in southern Iranian waters but north of Qatars
North Field. The two fields constitute essentially
a single geological structure, one of the largest gas
accumulations in the world.)

ria

3000

Sy

3500

Proven Reserves, Tcf

Production, Mbbl/D

4000

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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

South Pars
North Field
Al Manamah

Doha

Persian Gulf

Figure 1-12 The North Field extends off the coast of


Qatar and is divided from Irans South Pars Field by a
political boundary

1-5.1 North Field Characteristics and Development


The North Field is the largest non-associated gas
field in the world with estimated reserves of 900
Tcf of gas. Al-Siddiqi and Dawe (1999) explain that
the North Field produces from four intervals in the
Khuff formation. These zones are Permian dolomite
carbonates located at depths of 10,000 to 13,000 ft
with thickness ranging from 1,300 to 2,000 ft. The
gas produced is rich in condensates.
Given the tremendous size of natural gas reserves,
major investments for the production and transportation
of natural gas have followed.
QatarGas was founded 13 years after the North
Field was discovered. Eight years later, in 1992, the first
customer, Chubu Electric of Japan, signed a sales and
purchase agreement (SPA) with QatarGas for 4 million
metric tons per year (Mta) of LNG. Two years later,
Chubu Electric and other buyers signed a second SPA
for 2 Mta of LNG. Two years later, in January 1997,
the first LNG ship delivered gas to Japan. Efficient
production, processing, refrigeration, storing, loading
and shipping processes for LNG established by
QatarGas have allowed it to deliver 100 loads of LNG
to Japan every year since 1997 (EIA, 2007).
In October of 2002, BP signed an SPA with
QatarGas for 0.75 Mta of LNG to deliver to Spain.
To exploit the tremendous demand for natural gas
in Europe, ExxonMobil signed an agreement with

QatarGas to deliver 15 Mta of LNG to the UK market.


A year later, in June 2005, Shell signed a SPA for 7.8
Mta of LNG for Europe and North America. The
contracts for LNG have been progressively getting
bigger and bigger since the first SPA with Japan.
RasGas was founded in 1993. In 1995, an SPA
with KOGAS, a Korean company, was agreed upon.
Two years later the SPA was increased to 4.9 Mta, and
in April of 1999 the first LNG cargo left for Korea.
The delivery time of LNG to KOGAS was four years,
like the 4-year delivery time between QatarGas and
Chubu Electric. Also, an SPA with Petronet of India
was signed to deliver 5 Mta of LNG. The delivery
time for this order was five years, and the first LNG
cargo left for India in 2004. RasGas also signed a 25year SPA for 3.5 Mta of LNG with Edison Gas of
the United States. The SPA agreement was altered to
increase the LNG volume to 4.6 Mta in 2003. RasGas
signed an agreement with ExxonMobil to deliver 15.6
Mta of LNG to the United States. In February of
2005, an SPA with Distrigas of Belgium was signed to
deliver 2.07 Mta of LNG (EIA, 2007).
It is interesting to note the disparity in development
between Qatar and Iran. Qatar and Iran have comparable
gas reserves. Despite its sizeable gas reserves, Iran remains
a net importer of natural gas. According to Wood et al.
(2006), Irans surging internal demand for natural gas and
stiff gas market competition from Russia and Azerbaijan
will present Iranian leadership with difficult hurdles to
overcome in order to externally market those reserves.
While Iran is relatively isolated politically, Qatar has
been busy forging relationships with the major natural
gas consumers such as Japan, the United Kingdom, and
the United States. The Qatari civil reforms, natural gas
resource development, and good political relationships
have culminated in its enormous success.

1-6 Fracturing for the Efficient use of


Existing Resources and for Increasing
Recovery Factor
Since its advent in the 1950s, hydraulic fracturing has
proven to be a very robust technology, lending itself
to many different types of reservoirs. Additionally,
although fracturing is a very complex process, it
remains for the most part extremely forgiving of the

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Modern Fracturing

industrys overall general lack of expertise. These two


factors have led to fracturing becoming the most widely
used completion process.
Fracturing has its roots firmly planted in the gas
production industry. Even with the widespread use of
fracturing for oil and injection wells, gas well fracturing
is still the largest sector of the industry, by a wide margin
(see Fig. 1-13). The majority of gas reserves in North
America are only produced as a result of hydraulic
fracturing. However, apart from a few specific locations
(such as China, Argentina, Australia and to a lesser
extent Russia), the global gas industry has failed to
embrace this technology to even a fraction of the extent
it is used in North America (see Fig. 1-14).

Unconventional Gas
28%

Tight Gas
42%

Oil
25%

Other
5%

Figure 1-13 Targets of Fracture Treatments Performed in


the USA in 2006 (BJ Services, 2006)

Canada
17%

USA
70%

Rest of the World


(excl. China) 13%

Figure 1-14 Estimated Proportion of Fracturing


Treatments Performed in the USA and Canada,
compared to the Rest of the World, excluding China
(BJ Services, 2007)

One reason for this is the relative size, immaturity


and prolific productivity of the gas reservoirs outside
North America (see earlier discussions in this Chapter).
Another reason is that the USA is the only country in the
world where the landowners often own the mineral rights
under their land. In every other country, the government
controls the mineral resources and decides how they are
exploited. Consequently, in the US there is often a very
fragmented approach to the depletion of a reservoir,
habitually concentrating on wellbore tactics, whilst
elsewhere gas companies are more inclined towards the
big picture, allowing more focus on field development
strategies. Canada sits somewhere in the middle, having
inherited the British system of Crown ownership of all
mineral rights, while at the same time being heavily
influenced by the activities of the US gas industry. In
any case, small operators, eager to maximize short-term
cash flow, have always been the driving force behind the
popularity of fracturing in the US.
Outside the US, Canada, China, Argentina and
possibly Russia, fracturing has failed to reach the critical
mass that has allowed the easy exploitation of its potential
in these countries. Operating companies often complain
that service companies do not have the infrastructure
and expertise necessary for the cost-effective execution of
fracturing operations in a specific geographic area. At the
same time, service companies complain that operators do
not provide enough work to economically justify building
up suitable equipment and personnel resources. This is a
Catch-22 situation that can only be overcome by a)
field development projects that are large enough to justify
the introduction of a complete fracturing operation,
and b) having an operating company (or companies)
with sufficient confidence in the fracturing process to
proceed with fracturing-dependent field development.
Outside the above-mentioned countries, there are very
few companies with sufficient institutional confidence
in the fracturing process to make this happen. Even
companies based in North America with considerable
experience in fracturing seem to be unable to translate
this confidence internationally.
However, confidence in the fracturing process is
required if many countries and companies are to fully
exploit their gas resources. It is hoped that the processes
and experiences described in this book will help
significantly with this process.

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Chapter 1 Introduction to this Book

Ultimately, producing hydrocarbons from a reservoir


comes down to efficient management of the pressure in
the reservoir. Pressure, which is stored energy (or more
accurately, energy per unit volume), lies at the heart of
everything we do. The basic principle of hydrocarbon
production is the fact that liquids and gases will move
from a region of high energy (or pressure) to a region of
low energy, if a flow path exists. When we drill a well,
we are creating a region of low pressure at the wellbore,
and the conductive path is provided by the formations
permeability. If we are lucky, there is sufficient energy left
in the liquids and gases to reach the surface, once they
have arrived at the wellbore. In many cases, however, extra
energy has to be supplied via pumps or gas lift systems,
in order to achieve flow to the surface. Ultimately, the
efficient production of a reservoir is all about getting the
maximum amount of oil and gas out, while using the
minimum energy to do so.
In gas reservoirs, it is difficult to provide extra energy
after the gas reaches the wellbore. Although the density of
the gas means that far less energy is required to reach the
surface, often there is insufficient energy to produce the
gas at sufficient rates.
In its most basic form, fracturing can be thought of
as a process that minimizes the energy required for the
gas to reach the wellbore. This has several benefits:

far further into the reservoir, providing much greater


depletion at the drainage perimeter. This effect can
be maximized if the fracture azimuth is known. Wells
can be drilled further apart in the direction of fracture
propagation and closer together in the perpendicular
direction, allowing maximum depletion of resources.
Such a strategy significantly reduces the localized
or pin-point depletion caused by the wellbores
and spreads the effects of the depletion much more
evenly across the reservoir.
Finally, it must be remembered that although
fracturing can be very effectively used to redevelop a
mature field (see Chapter 13), it reaches maximum
effectiveness when applied to a new reservoir:

1. It leaves more energy available for bringing the


gas to the surface.
2. It can reduce the minimum energy (i.e. pressure)
required in the reservoir to achieve economic flow
to the wellbore, thereby extending production
beyond reserve levels that might otherwise be
considered depleted. In gas reservoirs, pressure
is reserves, and so minimizing energy losses during
production can significantly increase the ultimate
recovery from the reservoir.
3. It minimizes secondary pressure-dependent effects
such as water production (and associated problems
such as scale deposition, fines migration and hydrate
formation), retrograde condensation within the
reservoir, and non-Darcy flow.

1. After the fracture azimuth has been obtained,


the placing of wells can be planned to allow for
increased drainage efficiency in the direction of
fracture propagation. This could easily result in the
need for fewer wells.
2. Wellbores can be planned to facilitate fracturing.
As discussed in Chapter 5, the wellbore can be
completed in such a fashion as to make fracturing
easy and reliable (whereas the completion often
does just the opposite). In addition, perforations
can also be planned to maximize the effectiveness
of fracturing operations (see Chapter 6). Of all
the things under our control, the perforations will
have the single biggest effect on the outcome of any
individual treatment. Finally, multiple intervals can
be more effectively and efficiently stimulated on new
wells than on existing wells (see Chapter 9).
3. Surface facilities also can be planned to facilitate
fracturing, especially with regard to fluid recovery
and handling of returned proppant.
4. Long-term relationships can be built between
operating companies and service providers. This
allows for building and retaining experience
and expertise in both operational and technical
personnel. This also improves project economics
due to efficiencies of scale and a greater ability to
plan for the long term.

Fracturing effectively allows the wellbore to achieve


a significant size in comparison with the reservoir.
This allows the wellbores localized depletion to spread

Hydraulic fracturing of gas wells is no longer a


luxury instead, it is now a necessity. For economic,
environmental and political reasons, operating

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Modern Fracturing

companies and national operating companies have


an obligation to maximize the recovery from their
resources, while doing this as efficiently as possible.
There is no question that hydraulic fracturing will
continue to be a major tool for achieving these goals.
Fracturing will only increase in importance as reserves
become more depleted and harder to exploit.
Hydraulic fracturing remains an inherently complex
process, and as a result is viewed with suspicion by many
resources owners and asset managers. However, the
reality is that fracturing is no more complex than any
number of widely accepted practices, such as drilling
deviated wellbores, performing pressure transient
analysis, studying petrophysics and stimulating the
reservoir. Yet these techniques are widely practised
and trusted throughout the world, whereas hydraulic
fracturing remains a largely unexploited technique
outside of North America.
Consequently, the authors of this book hope its
publication will have two profound effects. First, we
hope this book will help to improve the techniques
and practices employed by those who are already
familiar with hydraulic fracturing. Secondly, we hope
this book will increase the utilization of fracturing
technology in reservoirs and geographic areas that
have hitherto failed to appreciate the potential of this
reservoir development technique.

References
Alaska Oil & Gas Report, Alaska Department of
Natural Resources, Div. of Oil and Gas, Anchorage,
Alaska (May 2006).
Al-Siddiqi, A., and Dawe, R.A.: Qatars Oil and
Gasfields: A Review, Journal of Petroleum Geology
(October 1999) 22, 4, 417.
Anchorage Chamber of Commerce: Natural Gas and
Alaskas Future, 2005.
BJ Services Company: Internal Marketing Information
(2006).
BJ Services Company: Internal Marketing Information
(2007).
BP Statistical Review, 2006
Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP):
Canadian Natural Gas, A stable Source of Energy

Supply, 2006a.
CAPP: Canadian Crude Oil Supply and Forecast
2006-2020, 2006b.
Central Intelligence Agency: Fact Book, 2006.
Energy Information Administration: Annual Energy
Outlook, 2007.
Energy Information Administration, 2007 http://www.
eia.doe.gov/pub/international/iealf/table18.xls
Energy Tribune, Various articles, February, 2007.
Hite, D.M.: Cook Inlet Resource Potential Missing
Fields Gas (and oil) Distributive/Endowment A
Log-Normal Perspective, presented at the South
Central Alaska Energy Forum, September 2006.
Kornfeld, S.: Alaska North Slope Gas Task Force,
Presentation to the US Department of Energy,
April 2002.
Meyers, M.D.: Alaska Oil and Gas Activities,
presentation to The House Special Committee on
Oil and Gas, January 2005.
Moscow Institute of Energy Research: Russias Natural
Gas Future, 2006 (in Russian).
Stringham, G.: Canadian Natural Gas Outlook,
presentation by CAPP, October 2006.
Williams, T.E., Millheim, K., and Liddell, B.: Methane
Hydrate Production from Alaskan Permafrost,
Final Report, (March 2005).
Wood, D., Mokhatab, S., and Economides, M.J.:
Iran Stuck in Neutral, Energy Tribune
(December 2006).
Wood, D., Mokhatab, S., and Economides, M.J.:
Global Trade in Natural Gas and LNG Expands
and Diversifies, Hydrocarbon Processing, 2007.
www.interfax.com, 2006
www.Gazprom.com, 2007

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Michael J. Economides is a professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, and the
managing partner of a petroleum engineering and petroleum strategy consulting firm. His interests include
petroleum production and petroleum management with a particular emphasis on natural gas, natural gas
transportation, LNG, CNG and processing; advances in process design of very complex operations, and
economics and geopolitics. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Energy Tribune. Previously he was the
Samuel R. Noble Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University and served as chief scientist
of the Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI). Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M University,
Economides was director of the Institute of Drilling and Production at the Leoben Mining University
in Austria. Before that, he worked in a variety of senior technical and managerial positions with a major
petroleum services company. Publications include authoring or co-authoring 14 professional textbooks and
books, including The Color Of Oil, and more than 200 journal papers and articles. Economides does a wide
range of industrial consulting, including major retainers by national oil companies at the country level and
by Fortune 500 companies. He has had professional activities in over 70 countries.

Dr. Xiuli Wang is a petroleum engineer with BP in Houston, currently functioning as a completion engineer
with worldwide responsibilities. She serves as the project leader of a major companywide project in injection
well completions and sand control. She has more than seven years of service with BP, from work as a
reservoir engineer to full-field modeling work. She supported the completion team as a petroleum engineer,
developing flux models and guidelines for minimizing erosion of producer well screens. Finally, she was the
lead production engineer for a major field in the continental shelf. Before immigrating to the United States,
Wang earned a MS degree from Chinas premier technical university, Tsinghua University, followed by six
years of work with one of Chinas major petroleum companies, Sinopec. She joined BP after earning a PhD
in chemical engineering, with a number of professional publications in the fundamentals of multi-phase
and complex flow through porous media. She was recently featured in a major journal as an exemplary
representative of Chinese-born engineers employed by the US based petroleum industry. In 2007, she was
named the US 2007 Asian American Engineer of the Year.

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Chapter 2
Natural Gas Production
Michael J. Economides, University of Houston and
Xiuli Wang, BP

2-1 Introduction
The natural gas we use in everyday life - as a
source of space heating after combustion, for power
generation even as industrial feedstock - is primarily
methane. Such fluid has been stripped of higher-order
hydrocarbons. This is not how natural gas appears just
one or two steps before its ultimate use.
At the present time there are two main sources for
natural gas as a petroleum production fluid.
First, gas is found in association with oil. Almost
all oil reservoirs, even those that in-situ are above their
bubble point pressure, will shed some natural gas, which
is produced at the surface with oil and then separated
in appropriate surface facilities. The relative proportions
of gas and oil produced depend on the physical and
thermodynamic properties of the specific crude oil
system, the operating pressure downhole, and the
pressure and temperature of the surface separators.
The second type of gas is produced from reservoirs
that contain primarily gas. Usually such reservoirs are
considerably deeper and hotter than oil reservoirs. We
will deal with the production characteristics of these
reservoirs in this chapter.
There are other sources of natural gas, one of which
(coalbed methane desorbed from coal formations) is
already in commercial use. This process is described
in relative detail in Chapter 11 of this book. In the far
future, production from massive deposits of natural
gas hydrates is likely, but such eventuality is outside
the scope of this book.

2-2 Idiosyncrasies of Dry Gas, Wet Gas


and Gas Condensates
Petroleum fluids found in nature, are always multicomponent mixtures of hydrocarbons. Characterizing
these fluids is difficult both from a scientific/laboratory
point of view and in production operations. Thus,

petroleum engineers have traditionally examined oil


field hydrocarbons in the context of phase behavior,
separating the mixture into liquid and gas. Fig. 2-1
shows a two-phase envelope with a pseudocritical
point (C) separating the bubble-point curve (AC)
from the dew point curve (BC) at a constant
composition. Emanating from the pseudocritical
point are equal saturation quality curves (DC,
EC) inside the two-phase envelope. To the right of
the pseudocritical point is the maximum possible
temperature, called the cricondentherm.
Natural gas reservoirs whose pressure and
temperature lie to the right of the cricondentherm
are known as dry gas reservoirs. If fluids from
these reservoirs stay outside of the two-phase
envelope in traversing a pressure and temperature
path from the reservoir to the wellhead,
they will produce only dry gas.
If the path from reservoir to surface carries
the fluid into the two-phase envelope below the
cricondentherm wet gas is produced.

Figure 2-1 Phase diagram showing regions of retrograde


condensate

Between the critical point and the cricondentherm,


liquid emerges as the pressure declines below the dew
point value (at a constant temperature) from point 1 to
point 2, shown in Fig. 2-1. As pressure decreases from
point 2 to point 3, the amount of liquid in the reservoir
increases. Further pressure reduction causes liquid to revaporize. This is the region of retrograde condensation
(McCain, 1973). Many natural gas reservoirs behave in
this manner. During production from such reservoirs, the
pressure gradient formed between the reservoir pressure
and the flowing bottomhole pressure may result in liquid
condensation near the wellbore (Wang, 2000).

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Modern Fracturing

One way to prevent condensate formation is


to maintain the flowing well bottomhole pressure
above the dew point pressure. This is often not
satisfactory because the reservoir pressure drop may
not be sufficient to achieve economic production
rate. An alternative is to allow condensate to form
but occasionally to inject methane gas into the
producing well. The gas dissolves and sweeps the
condensate into the reservoir. The well is then put
back in production. This approach is repeated several
times in the life of the well. It is known as gas cycling
(Sanger and Hagoort, 1998).

2-3 Inflow from Natural Gas Reservoirs


2-3.1 Fundamentals of Non-Darcy Flow
in Porous Media
Fluid flow is affected by the competing inertial and
viscous effects, combined by the well-known Reynolds
number whose value delineates laminar from turbulent
flow. In porous media the limiting Reynolds number is
equal to 1 based on the average grain diameter (Wang
and Economides, 2004).
Because permeability and grain diameter are
well connected (Yao and Holditch, 1993), for small
permeability values (e.g., less than 0.1 md) the production
rate is generally small, flow is laminar near the crucial
sandface and it is controlled by Darcys Law:

dp g
=
vg ,
dx k g

(2-1)

where x represents the distance, p the pressure, vg


the gas velocity, g the gas viscosity, kg the effective
permeability to gas. A small amount of connate water
is almost always present besides the gas. The water
saturation is often small and it does not affect the gas
permeability significantly. Therefore, kg is often equal
to k, the single-phase permeability.
Non-Darcy flow occurs in the near-wellbore
region of high-capacity gas and condensate reservoirs
as the flow area is reduced substantially, the velocity
increases, inertial effect becomes important, and the
gas flow becomes non-Darcy. The relation between
pressure gradient and velocity can be described by the
Forchheimer (1914) equation:

dp g
=
vg + g g vg 2 ,
dx k g

(2-2)

where g is the gas density and g is the effective nonDarcy coefficient to gas. The condensate liquid may
flow if its saturation is above the critical condensate
saturation, Scc (Wang and Mohanty, 1999a). Additional
condensate dropout because of the further reduced
pressure will aggravate the situation. Therefore,
two phenomena emerge Non-Darcy effects and a
substantial reduction in the relative permeability to
gas. Because of the radial nature of flow, the near well
bore region is critical to the productivity of a well.
This is true in all wells, but it becomes particularly
serious in gas-condensate reservoirs.
Forchheimers equation describes high-velocity,
single-phase flow in isotropic media. Many naturallyoccurring porous media are, however, anisotropic
(Wang et al., 1999). A direct understanding of
multiphase non-Darcy flow behavior in porous media
that are anisotropic at the pore-scale is studied elsewhere
(Wang, 2000, Wang and Mohanty, 1999b).
2-3.2 Transient Flow
To characterize gas flow in a reservoir under transient
conditions, the combination of the generalized Darcys
law (rate equation) and the continuity equation
can be used. Thus:

= p ,

(2-3)

where is porosity, and in radial coordinates:

1 k p
=
r .
t r r r

(2-4)

Because gas density is a strong function of pressure (in


contrast to oil, which is considered incompressible),
the real gas law can be employed:
=

m
pM
=
,
V
ZRT

(2-5)

and therefore
p 1 k
p

=
rp .

t Z r r Z r

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

In an isotropic reservoir with constant permeability,


Eq. 2-6 can be simplified to:

p 1 p p

(2-7)
=
r .

k t Z

r r Z r

The solution of Eq. 2-13 would look exactly


like the solution for the diffusivity equation
cast in terms of pressure. Dimensionless time is
(in oilfield units):
0.000264kt
( ct )i rw

tD =
,

2

Performing the differentiation on the right-hand


side of Eq. 2-7 - assuming that the viscosity and gas
deviation factor are a small functions of pressure and rearranging gives:

p 2 2 p 2 1 p 2

(2-8)
=
+
.
2
kp t

r r

For an ideal gas, cg = 1/p and, as a result, Eq. 2-8 leads


to:

2 p 2 1 p 2 c p 2

(2-9)
+
=
.
r 2

r r

This approximation looks exactly like the classic


diffusivity equation for oil. The solution would look
exactly like the solution of the equation for oil, but
instead of p, the pressure squared, p2, should be used,
as a reasonable approximation.
Al-Hussainy and Ramey (1966) used a far more
appropriate and exact solution by employing the real
gas pseudo-pressure function, defined as:
p

p
Z

m( p ) = 2
dp,

po

(2-10)

where po is some arbitrary reference pressure (usually


zero). The differential pseudo-pressure, m(p),
defined as m( p) m( pwf ), is then the driving force
in the reservoir.

Using Eq. 2-10 and the chain rule:
m( p ) m( p ) p
=
.
t
p t

(2-11)

(2-14)

and dimensionless pressure is


kh[m( pi ) m( pwf )]


pD =

1424qT


(2-15)

Equations 2-13 to 2-15 suggest solutions to


natural gas problems (e.g., well testing) that are
exactly analogous to those for an oil well, except
now it is the real gas pseudopressure functions
that needs to be employed. This function is
essentially a physical property of natural gas,
dependent on viscosity and the gas deviation
function. Thus, it can be readily calculated for
any pressure and temperature by using standard
physical property correlations.
By analogy with oil, transient rate solution under
radial infinite acting conditions can be written as:
q=

kh[m( pi ) m( pwf )]
1638 T
1

k
3.23 + 0.87 s ,
log t + log
2

(2-16)
( ct )i rw

where q is gas flow rate in Mscf/d, pi is reservoir


pressure, pwf is the flowing bottomhole pressure, is
porosity, ct is the total compressibility of the system,
and s is the skin effect.
Equation 2-16 can be used to generate transient
IPR (Inflow Performance Relationship) curves
for a gas well.

2-3.3 Steady State and Pseudosteady State Flow

Similarly,
m( p ) 2 p p
=
.

r
Z r

(2-12)


Therefore, Eq. 2-9 becomes
2 m( p ) 1 m( p ) ct m( p )
+
=
.
r 2
r r
k
t

Starting with the well known Darcys law equation


for oil inflow,
kh( pe pw )

q=
,

r

(2-13)

141.2 B[ln( e ) + s ]
rw

(2-17)

and recognizing that the formation volume factor,

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Modern Fracturing

B, varies greatly with pressure, then an average


expression can be used as shown by Economides
et al. (1994):
Bg =

0.0283ZT
.
( p e + p wf )/ 2

(2-18)

With relatively simple algebra, and introducing the


gas rate in Mscf/d, Eq. 2-17 and 2-18 yield:
141.2(1000 / 5.615)q (0.0283) Z T
[( pe + pwf ) / 2]kh
re
[ln( ) + s ],
rw

pe pwf =

(2-19)

and, finally:
2
pe2 pwf
=

r
1424q ZT
[ln( e ) + s ],
kh
rw

(2-20)

which re-arranged provides the steady-state


approximation for natural gas flow, again showing a
pressure squared difference dependency.

A similar expression can be written for pseudosteady state:
2

2
kh( p pwf
)
q=
.
0.472re
1424ZT [ln(
) + s]
rw

(2-21)

All expressions given thus far in this chapter have


ignored one of the most important effects in natural
gas flow: turbulence.
One of the simplest and most common
ways to account for turbulence effects is
through the use of the turbulence coefficient,
D, which is employed by adding a component
to the pressure drop, as shown below for the
steady-state equation:
2
wf

1424ZTD 2
q ,
kh

(2-22)

which rearranged, provides the well-known:


2
kh( pe2 pwf
)
q=
.
re
1424ZT [ln( ) + s + Dq ]
rw

q=

kh[m( p ) m( pwf )]
1424T [ln(0.472re / rw ) + s + Dq ]

(2-24)

2-3.4 Horizontal Well Flow


Analogs to Eq. 2-23 (for steady state) and 2-24 (for
pseudo-steady state) can be written for a horizontal
well. Allowing for turbulence effects, the inflow
performance relationships for a horizontal well in a
gas reservoir are for the steady state:
q=

2
k H h( pe2 pwf
)
,

I ani h
I ani h

1424ZT Aa +
+ Dq (2-25)
ln

L
r
(
I
+
1
)
w
ani

where
a + a 2 ( L / 2) 2

Aa = ln
,

L/2

and for pseudo-steady state:


2
k H h( p 2 pwf
)
q=
,

I ani h
I ani h
3

1424ZT Aa +
+ Dq
ln

rw ( I ani + 1) 4

(2-26)
where Iani is a measurement of vertical-to-horizontal
permeability anisotropy given by:

kH
I ani =
(2-27)
.
kV

In Eqs. 2-25 and 2-26, a is the large half-axis of the


drainage ellipsoid formed by a horizontal well of
length L. The expression for this ellipsoid is

r
1424ZT
p p =
[ln( e ) + s ]q
kh
rw
2
e

Similarly, the same coefficient can be employed


to the more rigorous expression using the real-gas
pseudopressure. As an example, for pseudo-steady
state with q in Mscf/d:

(2-23)

L
a=
0.5 + 0.25 + eH
L / 2
2

L
for < 0.9reH ,
2

0.5 0.5

(2-28)

where reH is the equivalent radial flow drainage radius.

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

2-4 Effects of Turbulence


The effects of turbulence have been studied
by a number of investigators in the petroleum
literature, pioneer and prominent among which
have been Katz and co-workers (Katz et al., 1959;
Firoozabadi and Katz, 1979; Tek et al., 1962). In
their work they suggested that turbulence plays
a considerable role in well performance showing
that the production rate is affected by itself: The
larger the potential rate, the larger the relative
detrimental effect would be. One interesting means
to account for turbulence was proposed by Swift
and Kiel (1962), who presented Eq. 2-22, which
when rearranged gives Eq. 2-23.
Equation 2-23 is significant because it suggests
that turbulence effects can be accounted for by a ratedependent skin effect, where the turbulence (at times
referred to as the non-Darcy) coefficient, D, has the
units of reciprocal rate. One of the implications is
that in testing a high-rate gas well, a calculated skin
effect must be construed as apparent, rather than the
real damage skin. Among the procedures suggested
for testing test gas wells are multi-rate testing with
subsequent determination of apparent skins at
each rate, and straight-line construction graphing
of s+Dq vs q. The graph allows field determination
of s, the skin not affected by turbulence, from
the vertical axis intercept, and D from the slope
(Economides et al., 1994).
2-4.1 The Effects of Turbulence on Radial Flow
Katz et al. (1959) have presented an explicit
relationship for the radial flow of gas into a well, using
natural gas properties and by providing correlations
for the coefficient, :
2
pe2 pwf
=

r
1424ZT
[ln( e ) + s ]q
kh
rw

3.16(10)12 g ZT (
+

where
=

2.33(10)10
.
k 1.201

h2

1 1
)
rw re

q2 ,

(2-29)

(2-30)

For an isotropic formation, k equals the horizontal


permeability. For an anisotropic formation, k is defined
as the equivalent permeability,
keq = [1 log(

kV
k 1
)]( V ) 3 k H ,
kH kH

(2-31)

where kV is the vertical and kH the horizontal


permeability.
To demonstrate the effects of turbulence on
natural gas production, a number of calculations are
shown here, using the Katz et al. (1959) approach for a
range of permeabilities. Table 2-1 contains the well and
reservoir data; Table 2-2 presents the results.
Table 2-1. Well and Reservoir Characteristics
pe

3000 psi

Case 1

Case 2

re

660 ft

pwf

1500 psi

2500 psi

rw

0.359 ft

0.0162 cp

0.0186

50 ft

0.91

0.9

710R

0.7

Table 2-2 Turbulence Effect at Different Permeabilities


and Different Drawdowns
k,
md
1
5
25
100
k,
md
1
5
25
100

Case 1: p = 1500 psi


q (=0, s=0)
MMscf/d
3.0
15.1
75.3
301.2

q (>0, s=0)
MMscf/d
2.9
13.0
51.9
151.2

q (>0, s<0)
MMscf/d
8.1
24.6
71.7
179.1

s
-5.7
-5.1
-4.3
-3.7

Case 2: p = 500 psi


q (=0, s=0)
MMscf/d

q (>0, s=0)
MMscf/d

q (>0, s<0)
MMscf/d

1.1
5.4
27.0
108.1

1.1
5.1
23.0
75.5

3.7
12.2
37.9
100.1

-5.7
-5.1
-4.3
-3.7

The first two columns of Table 2-2 show


the expected production rates for two flowing
bottomhole pressures, for laminar and turbulent
conditions, and for permeabilities from 1 to 100 md.
At low permeability, as expected, the rate reduction is
negligible; however, at 100 md and pwf = 1500 psi the
reduction is almost 50%.

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Modern Fracturing

Turbulence effects, viewed as an apparent skin, result


in values of 0.3, 1.2, 3.4 and 7.5, for the 1-, 5-, 25- and
100-md cases, respectively (and pwf = 1500 psi).
Because the range of 5 to 25 md is perhaps the
most likely to be encountered in emerging natural gas
fields, the ratio of actual to ideal (without considering
turbulence) rates is perhaps the most telling. For the two
different drawdowns, these ratios are 0.86 and 0.94 (for
the 5-md case) and 0.68 and 0.85 (for the 25-md case).
These results, plotted on Fig. 2-2, show the effect of both
the permeability value and the drawdown. The ratio
between turbulence-affected production and production
calculated under the assumption of laminar flow declines
precipitously as reservoir permeability and drawdown
(and, hence, production rate) increase.
1.0

q actual / q ideal

0.9

%p = 500 psi

0.8
0.7
0.6
%p = 1500 psi

0.5
0.4

10
Permeability, md

100

Figure 2-2 Turbulence effects for a permeability range


and different drawdowns

An additional interesting issue is the question


of the negative skin effect. This will become even
more pronounced in a later section of this chapter
presenting the expected production rate from
hydraulic fracturing. For now, a hypothetical negative
skin effect is used to represent, for example, matrix
acidizing of carbonate rock. In Table 2-2, the listed
negative skin effects result from fracturing. What
will become apparent is that hydraulic fracturing in
natural gas wells has a much larger effect than merely
imposing a negative skin because of the extraordinary
reduction in turbulence effects.
When turbulence effects are insignificant, the
negative skin effect is very large. In the 1-md case with
1500-psi flowing bottomhole pressure, the production
ratio between the negative skin (-5.7) and the zero skin
is nearly 3. Conversely, when the turbulence effects are
great, as in the 100-md case, the production ratio between

the negative skin (-3.7) and the zero skin is far less (1.2),
but again, these production ratios do not paint the true
effect of fracturing, which will be addressed later.
2-4.2 Perforated and Cased Well
in a High-Rate Gas Reservoir
The previous section deals with the flow reduction in
an open-hole well and could also be considered as a
reasonable approximation for a slotted liner.
For a cemented and perforated well, in the absence of
turbulence, a configuration skin effect can be envisioned
and added to the denominator of the deliverability
relations. Karakas and Tariq (1988) have published a
method to calculate this skin effect which depends on
the length of the perforation tunnel, the perforation
diameter, the phasing (degrees among adjoining planes of
perforations) and, especially, the perforation density, i.e.,
how many perforations per unit net thickness, measured
in shots per foot (SPF). They also quantified the effect
of vertical-to-horizontal permeability anisotropy: The
lower the vertical permeability, the larger the value of
the skin effect would be. Finally, they showed that if the
perforation tunnel lengths end outside a damage zone,
rather than inside, the composite damage/perforation
skin effect is substantially reduced.
Using the Karakas and Tariq (1988) model, one
important conclusion is that in a permeability-isotropic
formation without near-well damage, 4 SPF of typical
tunnel length and diameter result in a perforation skin
effect equal to zero; i.e., this configuration may be
construed as open-hole equivalent.
Ichara (1987) used a similar approach, constructing
a numerical model for a perforated natural gas well
and accounting for turbulence effects. He showed that
perforations add a production impediment because of the
increase in turbulence. Fig. 2-3 presents some of Icharas
results, which show the effect of permeability anisotropy
and perforation tunnel length. One observation is that
long perforations are useful, making a well with reasonable
perforation density (4 SPF) near the performance of an
open-hole well (still affected by turbulence). From Fig.
2-3 it can be concluded that a gas well with 4 SPF and
a typical 8-in. tunnel length in a sandstone reservoir
(kv /kh = 0.1) will perform at about 85% of an open-hole
well. Fig. 2-3 is for 0 perforation phasing.

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production


1.2

2-5 Production from Hydraulically


Fractured Gas Wells

Productivity Ratio

1.1
Open Hole

1.0
0.9

kv / kh
1.0
0.1
0.01

0.8
0.7

4 SPF
p = 1500 psi
0 Phasing Angle

0.6
0

12

15

18

21

Perforation Length, in

Figure 2-3 Productivity ratio vs. perforation length for


kV /kH = 0.01, 0.1, and 1.0 (after Ichara, 1987)

Figure 2-4 (for an isotropic formation) suggests


that improving the perforation phasing to 90 and,
especially, increasing the perforation density to 8 or
12 SPF may render the cased and perforated well
an even better performer than an open hole. This
is because of the penetration of the flow channels
beyond the sand face. In short, high perforation
density of long-penetrating tunnels will reduce
turbulence effects. For example, from Fig. 2-4,
for 8 SPF of 18 in. perforation tunnels, the well
performance would be about 10% larger than that
of an open-hole well.
(Note: Icharas work assumes that all perforations
are open and undamaged. This is of course rarely true
and the results presented here should be considered
an upper limit. Turbulence effects would be enhanced
with damaged or partly open perforations.)

Hydraulic fracturing has been established as the


premier production enhancement procedure in the
petroleum industry. For the first 40 years since its
inception, hydraulic fracturing has been for primarily
low-permeability reservoirs; in the last two decades
it has expanded into medium- to high-permeability
formations through the tip screenout (TSO) process
(see section 4-7.3.2). For natural gas wells, a reservoir
above 0.5 md should be considered a mediumpermeability reservoir. Above 5 md it should be
considered a high-permeability formation. In all
high-permeability cases, the fracture should be a TSO
treatment (Economides et al., 2002a). Even in many
medium-permeability formations with relatively small
elastic moduli, TSO is the indicated method.
Valk and Economides and co-workers as in Romero
et al. (2002) introduced a physical optimization technique
to maximize the productivity index of a hydraulically
fractured well. They call it the Unified Fracture Design
(UFD, Economides et al., 2002a) approach. They
introduced the concept of the dimensionless Proppant
Number, Nprop, given by:
N prop = I x2C fD =
=

2k f V p
kVr

4k f x f w
2
e

kx
,

4k f x f whp
kxe2 hp

(2-32)

1.2
SPF
12
8
4

1.1
Open Hole
Productivity Ratio

1.0

12
8
4

90
0.9
Phasing Angle
0.8

0.7

0.6
0

12

15

18

Perforation Length, in

Figure 2-4 Effect of shot density and phasing angle on


productivity ratio for kV /kH = 1

21

where Ix is the penetration ratio, CfD is the


dimensionless fracture conductivity, Vr is the reservoir
drainage volume, Vp is the volume of the proppant in
the pay (the total volume injected times the ratio of the
net height to the fracture height), kf is the proppant
pack permeability, k is the reservoir permeability,
xe is the well drainage dimension, hf is the fracture
height and h is the reservoir thickness. The proppant
permeability for gas wells will have to be adjusted
because of turbulence effects. This adjustment will be
shown in a later section.
Valk and Economides also found that for a
given value of Nprop there is an optimal dimensionless
fracture conductivity at which the productivity index
is maximized.

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Modern Fracturing

2-5.1 Unique Needs of Fracture


Geometry and Conductivity

2-5.2 Turbulence Remediation


in High- and Low-Permeability Wells

At low Proppant Numbers, the optimal conductivity,


CfD = 1.6. The absolute maximum dimensionless
productivity index (see Section 4-5.1), JD , is 6/ = 1.909
(the productivity index for a perfect linear flow in a
square reservoir). When the propped volume increases
or the reservoir permeability decreases, the optimum
dimensionless fracture conductivity increases somewhat.
Valk and Economides (1996) also presented
correlations for the maximum achievable dimensionless
productivity index as a function of the Proppant
Number (see Eq. 2-33 at the bottom of the page).
Similarly, correlations were presented for
the optimal dimensionless fracture conductivity
for the entire range of Proppant Numbers (see
Eq. 2-34, at bottom).
After the optimal dimensionless fracture conductivity
is known, the optimal fracture length and width can be
readily determined from:

In the case of a potentially high-rate natural gas well, the


effective proppant pack permeability used to calculate
the Proppant Number and the dimensionless fracture
conductivity depends on the production rate because of
the non-Darcy flow effects.
Economides et al. (2002b) presented an iterative
procedure combining the UFD method with the Gidley
(1990) adjustment to proppant pack permeability and
the Cooke (1973) correlations for flow in fractures.
The procedure starts with correcting the effective
permeability using the in-situ Reynolds number by:

0.5

x fopt

k f V f
C
kV
and wopt = fD ,opt f
=

C fD ,opt kh
k f h

0.5

(2-35)

where Vf is the volume of one propped wing,


Vf = Vp/2.
The idea of using the maximized dimensionless
productivity index to 1) design a hydraulic fracture
treatment and 2) to evaluate the subsequent well
performance against a benchmark and indeed any
other well configuration allows a generalized approach
to production engineering. It becomes important to
rationalize sub-standard performance and a constant
effort to push the limits (Economides et al., 2001.)

J D max ( N prop ) =

C fD ,opt ( N prop )

k f ,n

k f ,e =
,

1 + N Re

where kf,n is the nominal fracture permeability.


First a Reynolds number is assumed. A good first
value is Reynolds number equal to zero. Then from
Eq. 2-32 and the adjusted proppant pack permeability
the Proppant Number is calculated from which the
maximum JD (Eq. 2-33) and optimum dimensionless
conductivity (Eq. 2-34) are calculated. The latter
allows the determination of the indicated fracture
dimensions using Eq. 2-35.
From the dimensionless productivity index and
drawdown, the actual production rate is calculated,
which in turn is used to obtain the Reynolds number.
The procedure ends when the assumed and calculated
Reynolds numbers are close enough.
The Reynolds number for non-Darcy flow
is given by
N Re =

k f ,n

1
0.990 0.5 ln N prop

if N prop 0.1

0.423 0.311N prop 0.089( N prop ) 2


6

exp
2

1
+
0
.
667
N
+
0
.
015
(
N
)
prop
prop

if N prop > 0.1

1.6

0.583 + 1.48 ln N prop

= 1.6 + exp

1
+
0
.1
1
42
ln
N
prop

N prop

(2-36)

(2-37)

(2-33)

if N prop < 0.1


if 0.1 N prop 10
if Nprop >10

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

where kf,n is the nominal permeability (under Darcy


flow conditions) in m2, is in 1/m, v is the fluid
velocity at reservoir conditions in m/s, is the
viscosity of the fluid at reservoir conditions in Pa.s
and is the density of the flowing fluid in kg/m3. The
value of is obtained from:
= (1108)

b
(k f ,n )a

(2-38)

where a and b are obtained from Cooke (1973). Some


values are given in Table 2-3.

a
1.24
1.34
1.54
1.60

k, md

b
17,423
27,539
110,470
69,405


The velocity, v, is determined as the volumetric flow
rate in the fracture near the well divided by the fracture
height times the fracture width (both determined from
the design in each iteration.) For a detailed approach
and example see Economides et al. (2002b).
Table 2-4 presents the results for the fracture
designs and expected production rates for the four
permeabilities used earlier for the non-fractured wells
presented in Table 2-2. These designs assumed sand as
a proppant with kf = 60,000 md.
There are some very important implications
in comparing the results in Tables 2-2 and 2-4.
At 5 md the non-fractured well would deliver 13
MMscf/d (with pwf = 1500 psi). If the fractureinduced skin of -5.1 is assumed the production
rate would be 24.6 MMscf/d, approximately a twofold increase (see Table 2-2) This production ratio
increase would be expected in an oil well flowing
under laminar conditions. However, the implicit
reduction in turbulence effects (because of the flow
profile modification in going from converging radial
flow to fracture flow) leads to a considerable further
increase in the production to (in this example)
43.5 MMscf/d, a more than three-fold increase
(see Table 2-4). For higher-permeability wells, the
resulting folds of increase are similar, albeit in
actual production rates the achievable results are
spectacular (see Fig. 2-5).

Case 1: pwf = 1500 psi


q, MMscf/d

kf,e , md

xf , ft

-5.7

13.1

9251

218

-5.1

43.5

7950

91

25

-4.3

160.3

6670

36

100

-3.7

524.0

5525

16

k, md

Table 2-3 Constants a and b


Prop Size
8 to 12
10 to 20
20 to 40
40 to 60

Table 2-4 Results from Hydraulically Fractured Well


( kf = 60,000 md)

Case 2: pwf = 2500 psi


q, MMscf/d

kf,e , md

xf , ft

-5.7

5.8

12493

250

-5.1

18.9

10770

108

25

-4.3

69.2

8980

44

100

-3.7

224.0

7494

20

Table 2-5 shows even more prolific fractured wells if


premium proppants are used (kf = 600,000 md),
pushing the limits of hydraulic fracturing (Demarchos et al., 2004).
Table 2-5 Results from Hydraulically Fractured Well
( kf = 600,000 md)
k, md

-6.1

Case 1: pwf = 1500 psi


q, MMscf/d

kf,e , md

xf , ft

19.9

38300

375

-5.9

59.2

32050

182

25

-5.4

202.0

27110

75

100

-4.8

637.0

22410

35

k, md

Case 2: pwf = 2500 psi


q, MMscf/d

kf,e , md

xf , ft

-6.1

8.8

51600

456

-5.9

26.3

44150

211

25

-5.4

88.4

37020

91

100

-4.8

270.0

31720

41

In summary, turbulence affects are the dominant


features in the production of high-permeability (>5
md) gas wells. Turbulence may account for a 25 to 50%
reduction in the expected open-hole production rate
from such wells, if laminar flow is assumed. Cased and
perforated wells may experience further turbulenceinduced rate declines, which can be alleviated somewhat
with long-penetrating perforation tunnels and large

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Modern Fracturing

perforation densities (e.g., 8 to 12 SPF). However,


nothing can compete with hydraulic fracturing. In
higher-permeability gas wells, the incremental benefits
greatly exceed those of comparable permeability oil wells,
exactly because of the dramatic impact on reducing the
turbulence effects beyond the mere imposition of a
negative skin. It is fair to say that any gas well above
5 md will be greatly handicapped if not hydraulically
fractured. Indeed, pushing the limits of hydraulic
fracturing by using large quantities of premium
proppants will lead to extraordinary production rate
increases (Wang and Economides, 2004).
1000.0

q, MMscf/d

Fractured Well
(Premium)
100.0

Negative
Skin

10.0

1.0

Depending on the well orientation with respect to


the state of stress, either a longitudinal or a transverse
fracture may be created in a horizontal well (Soliman
and Boonen, 1997; Mukherjee and Economides, 1991;
Soliman et al., 1999). The longitudinal configuration
is generated when the well is drilled along the expected
fracture trajectory. The performance of such well is
almost identical to a fractured vertical well when both
have equal fracture length and conductivity. Therefore,
existing solutions for vertical well fractures can be applied
to a longitudinally fractured horizontal well (Economides
et al., 2002a; Soliman et al., 1999; Villegas et al., 1996;
and Valk and Economides, 1996).

Fractured
Well

Radial
Flow

Radial flow
1

10

100

Permeability, md

Figure 2-5 Comparison of gas production rates from nonfractured wells, wells with negative skin and fractured wells

2-5.3 Multi-fractured Horizontal Gas Wells


Hydraulically fractured vertical well

As discussed in the previous section, in vertical gas wells


turbulence can be greatly reduced through hydraulic
fracturing because the flow pattern (shown in Fig. 26) through the hydraulic fracture towards the well is
different than for radial flow (Wang and Economides,
2004). The same is not necessarily true for transversely
fractured horizontal gas wells (see Section 10-2).
Because turbulence effects are enhanced in the latter
(due to the very small contact area between the well
and the fracture), the conclusion is more nuanced. The
limited communication between the transverse fracture
and the wellbore generates an additional pressure drop
and a choking effect for all transversely fractured
horizontal gas wells. This also increases turbulence,
which precludes application to essentially any well
whose permeability is 1 md or more and, perhaps, to
even much lower values of permeability, depending on
project economics (Wei, 2004).

Figure 2-6 Configurations of radial flow and fractured


vertical well

Almost all reported applications of fractured


horizontal wells are for transverse fractures (Crisby et al.,
1998; Emannuele et al., 1998; Eirafie and Wattenbarger,
1997; Minner et al., 2003; and Fisher et al., 2004). A
transverse hydraulic fracture is created when the well
is drilled normal to the expected fracture trajectory
(Valk and Economides, 1996; Soliman et al., 1999;
and Economides et al., 1994). The configuration of a
transversely fractured horizontal well is demonstrated
in Fig. 2-7. The cross section of the contact between a
transverse fracture and a horizontal well is 2 rww where
w is the width of the fracture (which can be obtained by
using a design procedure such as the Unified Fracture
Design approach) and rw is the radius of the horizontal
well. In this case, the flow from the reservoir into the

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

fracture is linear; the flow inside the fracture is converging


radial (Economides et al, 1994). This combination of
flows results in an additional pressure drop that can
be accounted for by a choke skin effect, denoted as sc
(Mukherjee and Economides, 1991). The horizontal
well is assumed to be in the vertical center of a reservoir
(see Fig. 2-7) and the flow is from the reservoir into the
fracture and then from the fracture into the wellbore
(Mukherjee and Economides, 1991). The produced fluid
enters the wellbore only through the fracture, regardless
of whether the remaining part of the well is perforated.
In this study, this assumption is also valid.

Side view, fluid flow from reservoir to the fracture

Calculation Method and Theory


for Transversely Fractured Gas Well
To study the performance of a transversely fractured
horizontal gas well, it is essential to account for
turbulence effects, which are likely to be large
because of high gas-flow velocity. Economides et
al. (2002b) have developed an iterative procedure
to account for turbulence effects in a hydraulic
fracture. The main steps and the correlations used
are described below.
1. Assume a Reynolds number, NRe , and
calculate the effective fracture permeability kf,e
using Eq. 2-36.
2. Using kf,e , calculate the Proppant Number, Nprop
, from Eq. 2-32.
3. With Nprop , calculate the maximum productivity
index, JDmax , and optimal dimensionless fracture
conductivity, CfDopt , from Eq. 2-33 and 2-34,
respectively.
4. With CfDopt , calculate the indicated optimum
fracture dimension xfopt and wopt from Eq. 2-35.
5. With the known kf,e and wopt, calculate the choke
skin factor by:

sc =

kh h
ln .
k f w 2rw 2

(2-39)

6. With the calculated JD,max and sc, calculate the


dimensionless productivity index of transversely
fractured horizontal oil well JDTH (neglecting
turbulence effects for now), JDTH :

J DTH =

1
1

+ s
J c
DV

(2-40)

Top view, fluid flow from the fracture to the wellbore


Figure 2-7 One transverse fracture intersecting a
horizontal well

In the following section, the theory and calculation


method for transversely fractured horizontal
gas well are described. Then some results and
discussions are presented.

where JDV is the dimensionless productivity


index of the fractured vertical well calculated
using the procedure described by Wang and
Economides (2004).
7. With JDTH and drawdown, the actual production
rate can be obtained using Eq. 2-41. With this
production rate, a new Reynolds number NRe
can be calculated with Eqs. 2-37 and 2-38, and
the flow velocity v obtained from the crosssectional area of flow.

2
kh( p 2 pwf
)
q=
J DTH .
(2-41)
1424ZT

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Modern Fracturing

8. Compare NRe calculated in Step 7 with the


assumed NRe in Step 1. If they are close enough,
the procedure can be ended. If they are not, repeat
from Step 1 until they are close enough.
The calculated results are optimum, which means
that at a given Proppant Number the dimensionless
productivity index is the maximum at the optimum
dimensionless fracture conductivity (Demarchos et
al., 2004). However, this optimization often must
be tempered by physical and logistical constraints
(Economides et al., 2002a)
To compare the performance of fractured vertical
and transversely fractured horizontal gas well, the
Equivalent Number of Vertical Wells, X, is defined as:
X=

J DTH
.
J DV

(2-42)

Assume the formation permeability is the same


throughout and n transverse fractures are generated
intersecting a horizontal well (Fig. 2-8). JDTHt is the total
dimensionless productivity index (sum) for n transverse
fractures. JDTH1 is the dimensionless productivity
index of one isolated zone for a transversely fractured
horizontal well. Therefore:
J DTHt = nJ DTH 1.

(2-43)

Figure 2-8 Multiple transverse fractures intersecting a


horizontal well

Results and Analysis


for Formation Permeability from 1 to 100 md
A case study is presented here for the multiple fracturing
of a horizontal well in a gas reservoir with h = 50 ft,
g = 0.7, reservoir pressure of 3000 psi and flowing
bottomhole pressure of 1500 psi.
Assume a single transverse fracture is generated in
the horizontal well and the mass of proppant is 150,000
lbm. Proppant-pack permeability, kf , is 600,000 md.

The details of the fracture design are omitted here.


What are presented are fractured well performance
results, summarized in Table 2-6.
It should be noted that the skin choke effect,
sc , (from Eq. 2-39) is inversely proportional to the
proppant-pack permeability. Thus, choosing high-quality
proppant would decrease sc and benefit the dimensionless
productivity index, JDTH (Eq. 2-40), and the Equivalent
Number of Vertical wells, X (Eq. 2-42).
Table 2-6 Results for kf = 600,000 md
kf = 600,000 md, 150,000 lbm mass,
single transverse fracture
k, md

JDV

JDTH

w, in.

sc

kf,e

1
5
10
25
50
100

0.739
0.457
0.389
0.324
0.288
0.255

0.121
0.056
0.036
0.018
0.013
0.009

0.35
0.69
0.86
1.04
1.48
2.07

4.64
13.3
22.3
48.7
69.1
100

1002
871
832
794
783
774

The results in Table 2-6 show the value of JDTH is


very small (compared to that of the vertical well, JDV)
and decreases dramatically with increasing formation
permeability. It is obvious that turbulence effects
influence the performance of a transversely fractured gas
well so much that even with the most premium proppant
(permeability 600,000 md), the results are unacceptable.
The comparison of production between a fractured
vertical well, a transversely fractured horizontal well and
laminar flow open-hole well (the ideal case in Wang and
Economides, 2004) is summarized in Fig. 2-9. The top
solid curve (qv /qideal) represents the ratio of the fractured
vertical well production to that from a laminar-flow,
open-hole vertical well. The solid bottom curve shows
the ratio of a transversely fractured horizontal well (one
fracture) with the same laminar-flow, open-hole vertical
well (qTH /qideal). Results clearly show that because the
fracture in the vertical well changes the flow pattern in
the near-wellbore area and alleviates the non-Darcy effect
the qv /qideal is considerably larger than 1. Conversely,
the qTH /qideal is much smaller than 1 even at reservoir
permeability equal to 1 because of the choke skin and
non-Darcy effects. The dashed line in Fig. 2-9 shows that
even with four transverse fractures, the productivity ratio
of a fractured horizontal well to an ideal open-hole is still
less than 1 for permeability larger than 10 md.

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

Would increasing the mass of proppant improve


the performance? The answer is no. The reason is
that the main factor that makes JDTH so low is the
converging skin effect, sc , which cannot be reduced
by increasing the mass of proppant (see Eq. 2-39).
For example, for the 1-md formation, doubling the
mass of proppant to 300,000 lbm (with all other
variables kept the same) increases the JDTH only to
0.122, almost the same as that for the 150,000-lbm
mass case, where JDTH is 0.121.
6
5

qv / q ideal

3
4q TH / q ideal

These results further suggest that for high- and


even moderate-permeability reservoirs, a transversely
fractured horizontal gas well is not attractive because of
the production impediment from turbulence effects and
converging skin effect. For low-permeability (k 0.5 md)
reservoirs, the results should be attractive if multiple
fractures intersecting a horizontal well are generated (and
if the project economics are attractive.)

Open Hole

qTH / q ideal

0
1

10
k, md

100

JDV and JDTH

q / q ideal

The JDTH is smaller than JDV when other parameters


are the same.
The JDTH decreases with increasing formation
permeability regardless of proppant-pack permeability,
as expected.
When reservoir permeability is less than 0.1 md,
proppant-pack permeability has slight impact on sc.
When reservoir permeability increases, sc increases
and X decreases.

Figure 2-9 Turbulence effect on fractured vertical and


transversely fractured horizontal wells

JDV (kf =60,000 md)

JDTH (kf =600,000 md)

JDTH (kf =60,000 md)


0.1

JDV (kf =600,000 md)

k , md

Figure 2-10 (a) JDV, JDTH, vs. k for different proppants


0.8

40

0.7

35

0.6

X (k f =600,000 md)

0.5

30
sc (kf =60,000 md)

25

0.4
0.3

20
X (kf =60,000 md)

15
sc (k f =600,000 md)

0.2

Results and Analysis


for Formation Permeability from 0.01 to 10 md
A second study presents results for a much lower
permeability range (0.01 to 10 md). Designs assume the
use of 150,000 lbm mass of proppant with proppantpack permeabilities of 60,000 md and 600,000 md.
Drainage radius is 660 ft.
A single transversely fractured horizontal gas well is
calculated. The results are plotted in Figs. 2-10 (a) and
2-10 (b). The obvious trends from these results are:

10

10

0.1
0

0.01

5
0.1

k, md

10

Figure 2-10 (b) sc, X vs. k for different proppants

Because JDV and sc are functions of the mass


of proppant and proppant-pack permeability, it is
worth performing a parametric study to show the
effect of important reservoir and treatment variables
on JDTH , JDV and X.

31
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Sc

The conclusion from this part of the study is that


hydraulic fracturing is essential for both stimulating
and reducing the strong turbulence effects in higherpermeability vertical gas wells, but the same is not
necessarily true for transversely fractured horizontal gas
wells. Transversely fractured horizontal gas wells are not
attractive in terms of productivities for moderate and
higher formation permeability (e.g. k > 1 md).

2.0
1.8
1.6
1.4
1.2
1.0
0.8
0.6
0.4
0.2
0
0.01

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Modern Fracturing

Impact of Fracture Treatment Size


To find the impact of the mass of proppant on JDTH, a range
of proppant mass from 75,000 to 300,000 lbm is used.
The proppant-pack permeability used in this study is sand,
with permeability 60,000 md, and the drainage radius is
660 ft. The results are summarized in Table 2-7.
Table 2-7 Impact of Mass of Proppant on X and JDTH
75,000 lbm
k, md

JDTH

sc

0.01
0.05
0.1
0.5
1
5
10

0.786
0.465
0.31

0.531
0.481
0.35
0.198
0.152
0.092
0.06

0.16
0.45
0.86
5.63
10.5
28.6
51.3

0.105
0.067
0.029
0.017

150,000 lbm
k, md

JDTH

sc

0.01
0.05
0.1
0.5
1
5
10

1.075
0.345
0.323
0.106
0.067
0.029
0.018

0.589
0.487
0.294
0.162
0.127
0.08
0.058

0.08
0.43
0.91
5.66
10.6
28.7
51.3

a horizontal well are generated. Thus, it is useful to study


how the number of isolated zones affects the Equivalent
Number of Vertical Wells.
Assume the total drainage radius is 1320 ft, the
proppant-pack permeability kf is 60,000 md and mass
of proppant is 150,000 lbm. The number of isolated
zones and, thus, the number of transverse fractures
intersecting a horizontal well vary from 1 to 4.
The results, plotted in Fig. 2-11, show that
when the number of transverse fractures is more
than four for low permeability (k < 0.5 md), X
becomes more than 1, which makes transversely
fractured horizontal gas wells attractive. The lower
the formation permeability is, the more attractive
the transverse fracture configuration is (subject to
overall economic considerations). If the formation
permeability is larger than 1 md, the transverse
configuration does not appear attractive. For
example, X is only 0.280 for k = 10 md formation
with four transverse fractures generated.
5.0
k =0.01 md

4.5

300,000 lbm

4.0

JDTH

sc

3.5

0.01
0.05
0.1
0.5
1
5
10

1.42
0.314
0.332
0.107
0.068
0.029
0.018

0.755
0.518
0.235
0.138
0.116
0.071
0.053

0.19
0.46
0.95
5.69
10.6
28.9
51.3

3.0
X

k, md

2.5

k =0.05 md

2.0

k =0.1 md

1.5
1.0

k =0.5 md
k =1 md
k =5 md
k =10 md

0.5
0.0

It is apparent that increasing the mass of proppant


has impact on the results for the low-permeability
(k 0.1 md) formation but virtually no impact in higher
permeabilities. The reason is that increasing the mass
of proppant, while it may increase the dimensionless
productivity index, also increases the skin factor sc (see
Table 2-7). The one effect nullifies the other. Thus,
there is no need to increase the mass of proppant. A
modest treatment is sufficient.
Impact of the Number of Isolated Zones
on Equivalent Number of Vertical Wells, X
As mentioned earlier, for low-permeability (k 0.5
md) reservoirs, fracture stimulation results will not be
attractive unless multiple transverse fractures intersecting

3
n

Figure 2-11 Impact of number of fractures, n, on X

In summary, turbulence effects have a great


impact on transversely fractured horizontal gas wells
due to the small cross-section of the contact between
the well and the fracture. Although a vertical fractured
gas well in the permeability range of 1 to 100 md
may perform very well, turbulence effect procduce
in unacceptable results in transversely fractured
horizontal gas wells in the same permeability range.
For low permeability (k < 0.5 md), the results are
attractive if a fracture stimulation treatment generates
multiple fractures intersecting a horizontal well.
However, if the permeability is larger than 0.5 md,

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

the configuration appears unattractive. For relatively


higher-permeability (0.1 md < k <10 md) formations,
increasing the mass of proppant has very small or
virtually no effect on results. A medium mass of
proppant is enough for this permeability range.

2-6 Well Deliverability, IPR


and Well Flow Performance
All expressions relating gas well production rate
with the reservoir and bottomhole pressures can lead
readily to an inflow performance relationship, IPR.
Graphically, an IPR is plotted traditionally with the
bottomhole pressure on the vertical axis and the
production rate on the horizontal axis.
The IPR of a single-phase oil well forms a straight
line. The IPR of a gas well is a parabola because of
the pressure-squared dependence, even without the
additional complication of the turbulence term, e.g.,
Eq. 2-23 (for vertical well, steady state) or 2-26 (for
horizontal well, pseudo-steady state.)
An IPR describes a very simple and very useful
picture of well performance. It says that for any given
flowing bottomhole pressure there is a corresponding
rate. Intersection of the IPR with the vertical axis is the
driving reservoir pressure, i.e., the initial pressure for
transient conditions, the outer boundary pressure for
steady state and the average reservoir pressure for pseudosteady state. The intersection with the horizontal axis at
pwf = 0 is the well absolute open-hole potential.
One of the main tasks of production engineering
is modifying IPR. Indeed, all well intervention actions
aim to enhance IPR. Damage removal, re-perforating,
matrix stimulation and hydraulic fracturing all modify
the IPR. For a given reservoir pressure, all of these
production enhancement techniques shift the IPR
to the right. Reservoir pressure decline also de-facto
changes the IPR, lowering the vertical axis intersection
and shifting the curve downward.
What the reservoir can deliver into the well at
the bottomhole must be tempered by what the well
hydraulics (e.g., tubing diameter, depth, restrictions,
valves etc.) can allow on the way to the surface.
Thus, for any given production rate there is a unique
combination of flowing bottomhole and wellhead
pressures that would produce that rate. In practice,

a basic requirement is the value of the wellhead


pressure, which determines the necessary value of the
bottomhole pressure for the desired rate.
Another important task of production engineering
is to design the well tubulars, primarily the tubing
diameter, to try to accommodate the combination of
pressures in the well and rate.
A plot of the well flow performance, for a given
wellhead pressure, is then done with rate on the horizontal
axis and the required flowing bottomhole pressure on the
vertical axis. Such a plot is convenient because superposing
the IPR with the well flow performance provides exactly
the unique solution for well deliverability.
Well deliverability is a central theme of petroleum
production engineering. Calculations and solutions
of various scenarios seek to predict and optimize well
performance. Changing the IPR can be easily related
by plotting the original and new IPR and predicting
well deliverability in combination with the well
flow performance. At times, one well intervention
(e.g., hydraulic fracturing of a gas well) may not
provide maximum benefit without changing the
well performance curves. The existing tubing may be
restricting the rate (tubing-limited). Changing the
tubing size can remedy the situation.
The relationship between upstream and
downstream gas pressures flowing in a vertical
or inclined tubing, is given in oilfield units, by
(Economides et al., 1994):
p22 = e s p12 + 2.685103

f ( ZTq ) 2 s
(e 1),
sin Dtbg 5

(2-44)

where is the well deviation from the horizontal and e


is the natural exponent derived from:
0.0375 sin L

g

s=

ZT

(2-45)

For horizontal flow the relationship is:


p12 p22 = 1.007 104

g f ZTq 2 L
Dtbg 5

(2-46)

To obtain the friction factor, ff , the Reynolds number


must be calculated, and the Moody friction factor chart
can be used:
g q
N Re = 20.09
.

(2-47)
Dtbg

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Modern Fracturing

In Eq. 2-44 through 2-47, p is in psia, q is in Mscf/


d, Dtbg is in in., L is in ft, is in cp, T is in R, and all
other variables are dimensionless.
The indicated calculation procedure is iterative.
If either pressure is known, usually the well head or
downstream pressure, then the other pressure can be
calculated by iteration. The reason is that natural gas
physical properties are functions of the pressure value
to be calculated. Given one pressure value (upstream
or downstream) the other pressure is assumed, the
properties are calculated and then the unknown pressure
is calculated using Eq. 2-44 to 2-47. The assumed
and calculated values are compared and the procedure
repeated until a desired convergence is achieved.
Example of Gas Well Deliverability
Figure 2-12 shows the results for two skin effects (s=0 and
-5). Table 2-8 contains the well and reservoir variables for
this example. For the first case the resulting flow rate q =
4415 Mscf/d at pwf = 945 psi. For the stimulated well, q
= 10,500 Mscf/d at pwf = 2010 psi. Changing the tubing
diameter to 3 in. results in (for s =0) q = 4560 Mscf/d at
pwf = 630 psi, not a great impact on well performance
but for s = -5, the results are more pronounced: q =
12,800 Mscf/d at pwf = 1225 psi, both of which are
desirable. For higher reservoir permeability, the impact
of tubing size will be even more significant. This example
demonstrates the importance of considering both the
well IPR and well flow performance in reaching the
desirable well deliverability.

k = 0.3 md

h = 78 ft

re = 1490 ft

p = 5100 psi

g = 0.65

Tres = 185F

Ttf = 140F

rw = 0.328 ft

H = 9800 ft

Dtbg = 2.259 in.

= 90

ptf = 300 psi

2-7 Forecast of Well Performance


The final step of natural gas production engineering and
one that infringes on reservoir engineering is the forecast
of well performance, adding the necessary element of time.
Any economic calculation requires this step. To make such
calculation it is necessary, of course, to know the drainage
area of the well, which can be physically delineated from
geologic information, augmented by well testing analyses,
or surmised by allocating drainage areas through well
spacing in a fully developed field. Material balance is
essential, and basic elements are presented below.
2-7.1 Gas Material Balance and Forecast of Gas
Well Performance
If Gi and G are the initial and current gas-in-place within
a drainage area, the cumulative production from a gas
reservoir, considering the expansion of the fluid, is

Bgi
G p = Gi G = Gi Gi
,

(2-48)
Bg

6000
IPR at s = 0
5000

IPR at s = -5
V LP

4000
pwf , psi

Table 2-8 Resevoir Data for Gas Well Deliverability


Example

3000

where Bgi and Bg are the corresponding formation


volume factors.
Equation 2-18 provides Bg in terms of pressure,
temperature and gas deviation factor. Substitution in
Eq. 2-48, assuming isothermal operation throughout,
and rearrangement results in:

p / Z
.
G p = Gi 1

pi / Z i

2000

1000

0
0

2000

4000

6000

8000

10,000

q, Mscf/d

Figure 2-12 Gas well deliverability example

12,000

(2-49)

This expression suggests that if Gp, the cumulative


production, is plotted against o/Z, it should form a
straight line. Usually, the variable is plotted on the
vertical axis and the cumulative production on the
horizontal axis. At Gp=0, then, o/Z=pi /Zi, and at p/Z=0

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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

then Gp=Gi. For any value of the reservoir pressure


(and associated Z), there exists a corresponding Gp.
Coupled with the gas well IPR expressions presented
earlier in this chapter, a forecast of well performance
versus time can be developed readily.

yH2S are the mole fraction of nitrogen, carbon dioxide


and hydrogen sulfide, respectively, in the gas mixture.
Therefore the pseudocritical temperature Tpc1 and
pressure ppc1 for the whole mixture are:

2-8 Correlations for Natural Gas


Properties

p pc1 = Ap pc + 493.0 yN 2 + 1071 yCO2 + 1306 yH 2 S . (2-53)

Natural gas properties are used throughout production


engineering, from reservoir inflow to well flow
performance. In the past, graphical correlations have
been used and can be found in almost all production
and reservoir engineering textbooks. This book uses
explicit correlations which can be readily programmed to
calculate physical and thermodynamic properties.

Tpc = 187 + 330 g 71.5 g2

(2-50)

p pc = 706 51.7 g 11.1 g2 .

2
g

(2-51)

p pc = 677 + 15.0 g 37.5 g2 .

Equations 2-50 and 2-51 were developed for


gases with no contaminants such as H2S, CO2 and
N2. If any of these contaminants are present, the
pseudocritical values must be corrected using the
Wichert and Aziz (1972) correction.
The gas gravity, g in Eq. 2-50 and 2-51, is replaced
by hc as given by:
g 0.967 yN 2 1.5195 yCO2 1.1765 yH 2 S
A

1.6

( yCO2 + yH 2 S )

0.5

+ 15 ( yH 2 S ) ( yH 2 S ) .

(2-54)

And thus, the corrected pseudocritical temperature and


pressure are

p pc1 * Tpc*
Tpc1 + yH 2 S (1 yH 2 S )

(2-55)

2-8.2 Gas Viscosity


Gas viscosity is calculated with the Lee et al. (1966)
correlation:
= K exp X Y ,

(2-56)

where

For miscellaneous fluids, g 0.00001:

hc =

0.90

= 120 ( yCO2 + yH 2 S )

p*pc =

The critical temperatures and pressures are derived


from correlations for pseudocritical temperatures, Tpc
and pressures, ppc, (Brown et al., 1948), with g= gas
gravity to air = 1.
For condensate fluids, g < 0.00001:

Tpc = 168 + 325 g 12.5

Finally, the actual corrected critical properties must


include the Wichert and Aziz correction factor given by:

Tpc* = Tpc1

2-8.1 Pseudocritical Pressure, ppc


and Pseudocritical Temperature, Tpc

Tpc1 = ATpc + 227.3 yN 2 + 547.6 yCO2 + 672.4 yH 2 S

(2-52)

where A=(1 yCO2 YN2 yH2S), and yN2, yCO2 and

K=

(9.4 + 0.02M )T 1.5

209 + 19 M + T
986
X = 3.5 +
+ 0.01M
T
Y = 2.4 0.2 M
pM
=
,
ZRT

(2-57)

and where M is molecular weight, is gas density, and


T is temperature in R.
2-8.3 Gas Deviation Factor, Z
The gas deviation factor, Z is calculated using either the
Hall and Yarborough (1974) or the Dranchuk-PurvisRobinson (1974) correlations:

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Modern Fracturing

Hall and Yarborough Correlation.

The method is valid within the following ranges of


pseudo-pressure and temperature:

0.06125 p pr t
exp 1.2(1 t ) 2 ,
Z=

(2-58)

where ppr is the pseudo-reduced pressure, t is the reciprocal


of the pseudo-reduced temperature, (i.e., Tpc /T), and Y is
the reduced density that can be obtained from:
F (Y ) = X 1 +

Y +Y 2 +Y 3 +Y 4
3

(1 Y )
2

( X 2)Y + ( X 3)Y

(2-59)
X4

=0

where
X 1 = 0.06125 p pr t exp 1.2(1 t ) 2
X 2 = (14.76t 9.76t 2 + 4.58t 3 )
X 3 = (90.7t 242.26t 2 + 42.4t 3 )
X 4 = (2.18 + 2.82t ).

The Dranchuk-Purvis-Robinson correlation


1 + T1r + T2r2 + T3r5 +

T4 r2(1+ A 2 ) exp( A 2 ) T5 = 0,
8 r
8 r

(2-60)

with

A
A
T1 = A1 + 2 + 33
Tpr Tpr

A
T2 = A4 + 5
Tpr

T3 = A5 A6 / Tpr
T4 = A7 / Tpr3
T5 = 0.27 p pr / Tpr .

The coefficients A1 through A8 have the following


values:
A 1 = 0.31506237

A 2 = -1.0467099

A 3 = -0.57832720

A 4 = 0.53
3530771

A 5 = -0.61232032

A 6 = -0.10488813

A 7 = 0.68157001

A 8 = 0.68446549

1.05 < Tpr < 3.0


0.2 < ppr < 3.0

References
Al-Hussainy, R., and Ramey, H.J.: Jr., Application of
Real Gas Theory to Well Testing and Deliverability
Forecasting, JPT (May 1966) 637-642.
Brown, G.G., Katz, D.L., Oberfell, C.G., and Alden,
R.C.: Natural Gasoline and the Volatile Hydrocarbons,
NGAA, Tulsa, OK (1948).
Cooke, C.E., Jr.: Conductivity of Proppants in
Multiple Layers, JPT (Sept. 1973) 1101-1107.
Crosby, D.G., Yang, Z., and Rahman, S.S.: Transversely
Fractured Horizontal Wells: A Technical Appraise
of Gas Production in Australia, paper SPE 50093,
1998.
Demarchos, A.S., Chomatas, A.S., Economides, M.J.,
Mach, J.M. and Wolcott, D.S.: Pushing the
Limits in Hydraulic Fracture Design, paper SPE
86483, 2004.
Dranchuk, P.M., Purvis, R.A. and Robinson, D.
B.: Computer Calculation if Natural Gas
Compressibility Factors Using the Standing and
Katz Correlation, Institute of Petroleum, IP 74008, 1974.
Economides M.J.: Hydraulic Fracturing-a short course
by Prof. Michael J. Economides, 2004.
Economides, M.J., Hill A.D., and Ehlig-Economides,
C.A.: Petroleum Production Systems, Prentice Hall,
NY (1994).
Economides, M.J., Valk, P.P. and Wang, X.: Recent
Advances in Production Engineering, JCPT
(October 2001) 35-44.
Economides, M.J., Oligney, R.E., and Valk, P.P.: Unified
Fracture Design, Orsa Press, Houston (2002a).
Economides, M.J., Oligney R.E., and Valk, P.P.:
Applying unified fracture design to natural gas
wells, World Oil (Oct. 2002b), 52-62.
Eirafie, E.A., and Wattenbarger, R.A.: Comprehensive
Evaluation of Horizontal Wells with Transverse

36
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Chapter 2 Natural Gas Production

Hydraulic Fractures in the Upper Bahariyia


Reservoir, paper SPE 37759, 1997.
Emanuele, M.A., Minner, W.A., Weijers, L.,
Broussard, E.J., Blevens, D.M., and Taylor. B.T.:
A Case History: Completion and Stimulation
of Horizontal Wells with Multiple Transverse
Hydraulic Fractures in the Lost Hills Diatomite,
paper SPE 46193, 1998.
Fisher, M.K., Heinze, J.R., Harris, J.R., Davidson, B.M.,
Wright, C.A., and Dunn, K.P.: Optimization
Horizontal Completion Techniques in the Barrnett
Shale Using Microseismic Fracture Mapping,
paper SPE 90051, 2004.
Forchheimer, P., Hydraulik, Teubner, Leipzig and Berlin
(1914) 116-118.
Firoozabadi, A., and Katz, D.L.: An Analysis of HighVelocity Gas Flow Through Porous Media, JPT
(Feb. 1979) 211-216.
Gidley, J.L.: A Method for Correcting Dimensionless
Fracture Conductivity for Non-Darcy Flow
Effects, paper SPE 20710, 1990.
Hall, K.R. and Yarborough, I.: A New Equation of
State for Z-Factor Calculations, Oil & Gas J.,
June 18, 1973, 82-92.
Ichara, M.J.: The Performance of Perforated Completions
in Gas Reservoirs, paper SPE 16384, 1987.
Karakas, M., and Tariq, S.: Semi-Analytical Production
Models for Perforated Completions, paper SPE
18247, 1988.
Katz, D.L., Cornell, D., Kobayashi, R., Poettmann,
F.H., Vary, J.A., Ellenbaas, J.R., and Weinang, C.F.:
Handbook of Natural Gas Engineering, McGrawHill, NY (1959).
Lee, A., Gonzalez, M.H., and Eakin, B.E.: The
Viscosity of Natural Gases, JPT (Aug. 1966) 9971000.
McCain, W.D., Jr.: The Properties of Petroleum Fluids,
Petroleum Publishing Co., Tulsa (1973).
Minner, W.A., Ganong, B.L., Demetrius S.L., and
Wright, C.A.: Rose Field: Surface Tilt Mapping
Shows Complex Fracture Growth in 2500 Laterals
Completed with Uncemented Liners, paper SPE
83503, 2003.
Mukherjee, H., and Economides, M.J.: A Parametric
Comparison of Horizontal and Vertical Well
Performance, paper SPE 18303, 1991.

Romero, D.J., Valk, P.P., and Economides M.J.:


Optimization of the Productivity Index and the
Fracture Geometry of a Stimulated Well With
Fracture Face and Choke Skins, paper SPE 73758,
2002.
Sanger, P.J., and Hagoort, J.: Recovery of gas
condensate by nitrogen injection compared with
methane injection, SPEJ. (1998) 3(1), 26.
Soliman, M.Y., and Boonen, P.: Review of Fracturing
Horizontal Wells Technology, paper SPE 36289,
1997.
Soliman, M.Y., Hunt, J.L., and Azari, M.: Fracturing
Horizontal Wells in Gas Reservoirs, SPEPF (Nov.
1999)14 (4).
Swift., G.W., and Kiel, O.G.: The Prediction of GasWell Performance Including the Effects of NonDarcy Flow, JPT (July 1962) 791-798.
Tek, M.R., Coats, K.H., and Katz, D.L.: The Effect
of Turbulence on Flow of Natural Gas Through
Porous Reservoirs, JPT (July 1962) 799-806.
Valk, P., and Economides, M.J.: Performance of a
Longitudinally Fractured Horizontal Well, SPEJ
(March 1996) 11-19.
Villegas, M.E., Wattenbarger, R.A., Valk, P., and
Economides, M.J.: Performance of Longitudinally
Fractured Horizontal Wells in High-Permeability
Anisotropic Formations, paper SPE 36453,
1996.
Wang, X.: Pore-Level Modeling of Gas-Condensate
Flow in Porous Media, PhD dissertation,
University of Houston (May 2000).
Wang, X., and Economides, M.J.: Aggressive Fracture
Slashes Turbulence in High-Permeability Gas
Well,
(July 2004).
Wang, X., and Mohanty, K.K.: Critical condensate
saturation in porous media, J. Coll. & Interf. Sci.
(1999a) 214, 416.
Wang, X., and Mohanty, K.K.: Multiphase non-Darcy
flow in gas-condensate reservoirs, paper SPE
56486, 1999b.
Wang, X., Thauvin, F., and Mohanty, K.K.: NonDarcy flow through anisotropic porous media,
Chem. Eng. Sci. (1999) 54, 1859.
Wei, Y.: Transverse Hydraulic Fractures From A
Horizontal Well, MS thesis, University of Houston
(November, 2004).

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Modern Fracturing

Wichert, E., and Aziz, K.: Calculation of Zs for Sour


Gases, Hydrocarbon Processing (1972) 51(5).
Yao, C.Y., and Holditch, S.A.: Estimating Permeability
Profiles Using Core and Log Data, paper SPE
26921, 1993.

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Bob Bachman is currently at Taurus Reservoir Solutions in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Areas of expertise
include all aspects of traditional reservoir engineering, reservoir simulation and analyzing the performance
of hydraulically fractured wells. He graduated from the University of Manitoba in 1976 and 1978 with
BSc and MSc degrees in civil engineering. He began his career as a reservoir engineer at Mobil Oil Canada,
looking at hydrocarbon miscible floods. He currently has over 27 years consulting experience. Companies
he has worked for include Intercomp, SSI, Simtech and Duke Engineering.

Robert Hawkes is team leader of reservoir services for BJ Services Company Canada, overseeing petrophysical
and reservoir engineering services. He graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in 1979
with a diploma in petroleum engineering. He began his career with Esso Resources in Calgary as a reservoir
technologist in the testing department and went on to become a senior well testing specialist with Fekete
Associates Inc. Hawkes is well-published in CIM and SPE and is a distinguished lecturer for the SPE 20072008 Distinguished Lecture Program. He is a member of SPE, the Petroleum Society of CIM, Society of
Petroleum Petrophysicists and Well Logging Analysis (SPWLA) and the Alberta Society of Engineering
Technologists (ASET).

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Chapter 3
Gas Well Testing
and Evaluation
Bob Bachman, Taurus Reservoir Solutions and
Robert V. Hawkes, BJ Services
With special contributions on closure analysis from
Bob Barree, Barree and Associates

3-1 Introduction
Pressure transient testing of wells is now a commonly
accepted sub-discipline of reservoir and production
engineering. The analysis of such a test is called
pressure transient analysis (PTA). Conducting such
tests is costly in both an absolute sense and in possible
temporary loss of production. The benefits must
therefore outweigh the costs if the test is to be done.
Nevertheless, pressure transient testing is performed
around the world because it is one of only a few
processes that help to quantify well behavior. Within
the context of hydraulic fracturing it is especially
useful in answering the following questions:
1. What are the reservoir properties so that
optimal hydraulic fracturing treatments can
be designed? In designing fracture treatments
(as presented throughout this book and, in
particular in Section 4-5), knowledge of reservoir
permeability is crucial. This property is one of the
most important findings of a pressure transient
test and it is most unambiguously determined
before a treatment. Other properties that can
be obtained from the test include the initial
pressure pi, and the damage around the well. This
damage is referred to as skin, s, and is normally
considered a short-distance phenomenon. A
positive skin indicates that damage has occurred
and will result in production impairment
and additional pressure loss around the well.
A negative skin corresponds to a production
enhancement compared with the normal state.
The goal of a hydraulic fracture treatment is
to create an equivalent negative skin situation,
which is the result of the fracture half-length
and conductivity (see Chapter 2).

2. How does the actual treatment, with respect to


the propped fracture properties, compare to
what was designed? Here the analyst is trying to
compute the fracture length and the conductivity
of the proppant pack. This would quantify if there
were any positive skin left after the treatment
and whether the stimulation was successful in
removing it. Results of the analysis may determine
if future design changes need to be made. This
in turn could lead to recommended changes in
fracture geometry (propped length and width), the
materials in use (proppant type and stimulation
fluid) and the size of the treatment.
Tests are most often done immediately after drilling,
casing and perforating, although open-hole DST tests are
sometimes performed. This allows stimulation decisions
to be made. Tight gas wells (those with permeability
below 0.1 md) may not flow without being stimulated.
In these cases other methods, such as closed chamber
testing, may be done to determine permeability. These
alternative tests will be discussed in Section 3-12.2.
Another important area for pressure transient
testing is determining the average well pressure and
how this changes with time from well to well in the
pool. This in turn helps determine the contacted gas
in place and, indirectly, well reserves, in addition to
connectivity among various wells in the pool.
A large number of commercially available software
packages are available to help the user in the design
and analysis of PTA tests. This removes the burden of
data manipulation and problem set-up from the user.
However by making problem set-up so easy and the
mathematics largely hidden by various plotting and
calculation techniques, the user may not understand
what is going on. The focus of this chapter will be in
giving background PTA theory and more importantly,
guidance about accepted practices in interpreting test
results. This chapter is intended as a supplement to
the already excellent books on the subject of PTA
(e.g., Dake, 1978; Horne, 1997; Lee et al., 2003; and
Houz et al. (2007)) and will have a particular focus
on natural gas testing.
Before proceeding, pressure transient test must
be defined. The classical definition is a process whereby
the production from the well is controlled, usually

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Modern Fracturing

at the wellhead, and the resulting pressure measured


either at the wellhead or, preferably, at bottomhole
conditions. The overwhelming majority of tests have
a sequence of production rates followed by a buildup. A build-up occurs when the well is shut-in and
produces at a zero rate. Interpreting test results is most
easily performed when rates are held constant, and a
well being shut-in is the easiest constant rate condition
to obtain operationally. In the literature, there is an
overwhelming focus on the proper interpretation of
the last build-up. The authors feel strongly that all flow
periods need to be reviewed and analyzed, in order to
reduce non-uniqueness issues that frequently occur.
The typical duration of a test is less than one month,
often less than 10 days and in some cases as little as 24
hours of flow, followed by a 24-hour build-up.
The time duration of a test gives a natural limit as
to how far into the reservoir properties can be inferred.
From the analysts point of view, all tests appear to be
of insufficient length, as one is always on the verge of
determining properties further into the reservoir at any
time. The realities of the oil and gas business dictate
that compromises be made; enough time is granted
to conduct a test so that operational and stimulation
decisions can be made, and no more.

3-2 Background Theory


There is a tremendous body of literature dedicated to
PTA, summarized in a review paper by Gringarten
(2006). Equations describing flow in porous media
involve combining the continuity equation (conservation
of mass) with Darcys law (relationship between flow
rate and pressure drop) as was shown in Chapter 2. This
results in a second-order partial differential equation.
For vertical wells in radial coordinates, where vertical
and angular properties do not vary, this results in a onedimensional linear differential equation:
1 k p

=
,
r r r
t

(2-4)

where r is the radial distance, t is time, is the fluid


density, k is the permeability, is the porosity and
the viscosity. This equation is appropriate for both
oil and gas because no constitutive assumptions
have been made about the density term. For liquids,

the assumption of constant density, viscosity and


compressibility is appropriate. If, in addition, constant
permeability is assumed then:
2 p 1 p ct p
+
=
,
r 2 r r
k t

(3-1)

where ct is the total compressibility and p is pressure.


This is a linear equation, as none of the coefficients
are a function of pressure. This is known as the radial
diffusivity equation. The left side of this equation
represents the flow term in the reservoir. The right side
represents the accumulation of material at a given point
over time. For gas reservoirs, it is possible to linearize
the left side of Eq. 2-4 by the process described in
Section 2-3.2, using the definition for real gas pseudopressure, m(p). From now on this will be referred to as
just pseudo-pressure. This gives:
2 m( p ) 1 m( p ) ct m( p )

+
=
.
2
r

(2-13)

The right side terms (viscosity) and especially


ct (total compressibility) are strong functions of
pressure. Initial attempts to get around this nonlinearity assumed the product of these terms was
constant at the initial pressure value, which is only
approximately true. Agarwal (1979) introduced an
additional term called pseudo-time, ta, which has
been slightly modified to be:
t

dt '
ct

ta = (ct )i
,

0

(3-2)

where the subscript i represents initial conditions. This


definition allows pseudo-time to retain units of time.
Subsequently, Lee and Holditch (1982) gave a strong
theoretical justification for the approach. Pseudo-time
accounts for the large change in gas compressibility
that occurs at low pressures (early time in a buildup). It has little effect on the late time data, and was
introduced for build-ups only. For drawdowns, Lee
and Holditch (1982) set the pressure equal to the
initial pressure in Eq. 3-2 for the entire flow period.
Implicit in this calculation is that pressure must be
known as a function of time.
Which pressure should be used? The pressure
typically measured is at the well, so it seems a logical
choice, and indeed this is what Lee and Holditch

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

(1982) imply. Production Analysis (or PA) techniques


use the average pressure so that material balance
can be rigorously applied. This requires the size of
the container (i.e. the drainage area) to be specified
before the analysis can begin, or else an iteration
to be performed upon it as a part of the solution
process. Well test programs typically have not
required this in their analytical engines. For software
using the bottomhole pressure in the pseudo-time
calculation, long-term forecasts will not honor
material balance (Houz, 2002).
When Eq. 3-2 is substituted into Eq. 2-13, and
higher-order terms are dropped, then one has:
2 m( p ) 1 m( p ) ( ct )i m( p )
+
=
,
r 2
r r
k
ta

(3-3)

which is linear. This final transformation recasts the


gas equation into the same form as the oil equation.
Mathematically there is now no difference between
the two formulations. For gas problems, care
must be taken as to how the compressibility term
is entered into commercial PTA software. Most
software codes require the user to specify only the
rock compressibility term, as the gas compressibility
is automatically calculated from the specified PVT
properties. Current software is formulated in terms
of pseudo-pressure and possibly pseudo-time. For
pseudo-time-based software, rock compressibility
will be added to the pressure-dependent gas
compressibility derived from the specified or
correlated PVT properties. For software using the
concept of constant ct, viscosity and compressibility
would be specified at initial conditions, and the
user may be expected to enter the combined
rock and gas compressibility.
By applying the additional transformation of
dimensionless time (Eq. 2-14) and dimensionless
pressure (Eq. 2-15) into Eq. 3-3, a standard form is
achieved to report solutions to well test equations for
radial problems with a constant producing rate:
tD =

0.000264kta
,
( ct )i rw2

(3-4)

and
p D =

kh[m( pi ) m( pwf )]
1424qT

(2-15)

where tD is the dimensionless time, pD is the


dimensionless pressure, r w is the wellbore radius, T
the reservoir temperature, q is the rate, m(pi) is the
pseudo-pressure at the initial pressure pi and m(pwf) is
the flowing pseudo-pressure at the sandface pressure
pwf. The difference between Eqs. 2-14 and 3-4 is
that the time function is different. For hydraulically
fractured wells, the definition of dimensionless time
changes by replacing the wellbore radius by the
fracture half-length, xf:

tD =

0.000264kta
.
( ct )i x 2f

(3-5)

Frequently one wishes to solve the problems where pwf


is constant and the rate declines with time. For this case
the pD definition in Eq. 2-15 is not appropriate and
solutions are expressed in terms of the dimensionless
rate, qD:
1
qD

kh[m( pi ) m( pwf )]
1424qT

(3-6)

Although the right side is apparently identical to Eq.


2-15, it must be remembered that in Eq. 2-15 q is
constant, while in Eq. 3-6 pwf is constant.
Two terms that play a significant role in PTA
interpretation are the diffusivity () and storativity
coefficients (). These are defined as:
k

=
,
(c t )i

(3-7a)

and

= (ct )i h,

(3-7b)

where h is the total net pay. The velocity of a


pressure disturbance from a given rate change is
proportional to the diffusivity coefficient. The
higher the permeability and the lower the system
compressibility, the faster the disturbance travels, and
the sooner boundaries will be encountered. Pressure
disturbances typically travel much faster in oil wells
than gas wells due to the significant differences in
compressibility. The storativity is less important,
especially in short-term tests, but it can be significant
when defining heterogeneities within a system or
when depletion occurs.

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Modern Fracturing

3-3 Radial Flow Solutions

m( pi ) m( pwf )

(3-8)

T is temperature and rw is wellbore radius. This can be


expressed in dimensionless terms as:

1
pD = (ln t D + 0.80907) + s,
(3-9)
2

The second asymptotic solution occurs at late time when


all the boundaries are felt. For the special case of a constant
rate with a no-flow outer boundary, this is referred to as
the pseudo-steady solution, and pseudo-pressure at all
points in space declines at a constant rate with time:

1422T
kh

0.000528kta

r 3

+ ln e + s ,
2
( c ) r

rw 4
t i e

(3-10)

where re is the outer drainage radius. Fig. 3-1 shows


a comparison of the transient and pseudo-steady
state cases. When wellbore storage dominates
at the earliest times:
m( pi ) m( pwf )

=

q

0.420082T
ta .
i C

(3-11)

where C is the wellbore storage coefficient, which is a


measure of how the compressibility of the well and its
contents affects the early time pressure response.
Transient
Pseudo-Steady State

pe

Van Everdingen and Hurst (1949) were the first to


solve Eq. 3-1. The initial cases considered a constant
well rate at the inner boundary. Various outer boundary
conditions, such as no flow and constant pressure,
were also solved. They extended the solutions to
include wellbore storage, and in subsequent work (van
Everdingen, 1953; and Hurst, 1953) solutions included
both wellbore storage and skin effects, but only gave
partial solutions. Raghavan et al. (1970) extended the
solution to all circumstances.
Wellbore storage is the phenomenon that occurs
when the rate is controlled at the surface rather than
the sand face. This results in a delay in the production
response at the sand face. Wellbore storage occurs
due to the compressibility of the wellbore fluids or a
changing fluid level in the well (Horne 1997). Even
for the relatively simple case of no wellbore storage
or skin, the mathematical solution as a function
of time remains formidable.
For all flow problems, and not just the
homogeneous radial flow solution, there are two
special asymptotic cases. The first occurs at early
time, but not so early that wellbore storage affects
the results. This is called the transient solution, where
there is no influence from any outer boundaries.
This has already been given in Chapter 2 as Eq.
2-16 in terms of t. In general:

Time

Figure 3-1 Comparison of transient and pseudo-steady


state cases

The complexity of the van Everdingen and


Hurst (1949) solution comes from the so-called
late transient term, where there is a transition from
pure transient flow to pseudo-steady state flow. For
radial flow, the late transient flow period is of short
duration. For more complicated geometries, some
but not all boundaries are felt for significant periods
of time, making the late transient period significant.
This late transient time presented great difficulties for
the first generation of theoreticians in PTA.
After a well has reached pseudo-steady state
conditions, it is not possible to decouple permeability
and skin effects. Instead, one can only determine
the overall productivity index (J) of the well, which
represents a combination of permeability and skin.
For cylindrical drainage this equation is:

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

kh

J=
=

1422T [ ln(re / rw ) (3 / 4) + s ] m( pavg ) m( pwf )

(3-12)
where m(pavg) is the pseudo-pressure at the average
reservoir pressure pavg. The average pressure changes with
time according to the material balance equation. For
hydraulically fractured wells, an overall negative skin
can represent the fracture after radial flow is achieved.
The treatment itself does not affect the permeability
of the well, only the skin. For wells draining differing
reservoir shapes, Eq. 3-12 can be appropriately
modified, by using the Dietz shape factor. The time to
get into bounded flow has been determined by Dietz
(1965) and is also dependent on the drainage area
shape. For convenience, an additional dimensionless
time function, tDA, is defined as:
0.000264kt
t
,
DA =
( ct )i A

(3-13)

where A represents the drainage area of the well. For a


well in the center of a square or circular drainage area,
the time to pseudo-steady state flow is tDA = 0.1. For wells
with the vast majority of drainage area shapes, Brown
and Hawkes (2005) developed a simple relationship for
comparing the benefit of a stimulation treatment based
on a ratio of the pre- and post-stimulated skin effect,
which is a simplification of Eq. 3-12. They called it the
rule of eight, and it is a slight modification of earlier work
by Golan and Whitson (1991):

[8 + so ]
qf =
[ qo ],

8 + s f

(3-14)

where so and sf represent the skin effects before and


after fracture treatment, respectively. Similarly qo and
qf represent the boundary-dominated flow rates before
and after fracture treatment.
Evaluating the effectiveness of fracture stimulation
treatments for wells with long-term production data
onlywithout knowledge of permeability or skin
is difficult. These wells are assumed to be in bounded

m( pi ) m( pwf ) =

1422Tq
1.151 log
kh

flow, which is similar to pseudo-steady state flow.


Bounded flow assumes all the reservoir boundaries
have been encountered and the well is flowing at
constant pwf, with a declining rate.
For a typical gas well the range of permeability is
between 0.001 to 10 md, or 4 orders of magnitude.
Permeability is typically highly variable across a
group of wells. For a given constant pressure drop
the calculated rate is proportional to permeability,
indicating a possible rate variation of 4 orders of
magnitude, as given by Eq. 3-12. Independent of
permeability, a well normally has a positive skin after
the initial completion. In practice this varies from +25
(highly damaged) to 0 (no damage). After a fracture
stimulation treatment the best skin factor that can
be expected is about 6. For an initially undamaged
well (s = 0), a stimulation treatment can result in a
four-fold change in rate by Eq. 3-14. Permeability
dominates the resultant production rate, making the
success or failure of a treatment hard to quantify if
permeability is unknown.
The only way to determine the effectiveness of
a fracture treatment is to separate the permeability
and skin effects. This can only be accomplished
from an analysis of the transient portion of the flow.
Skin can then be related to the fracture geometry
and proppant conductivity, from data prior to the
establishment of radial flow.

3-4 Superposition
During actual pressure tests, rate variation with time has
to be dealt with. Because the fundamental mathematical
equations are linear, superposition (sometimes called
rate convolution) can be applied to develop more
general solutions from the building block of the
constant rate solution, as shown by Odeh and Jones
(1965). By definition, a new transient is introduced at
each rate change. If the last flow rate was a shut-in,
one then has a pressure build-up test. Transient flow is
guaranteed for at least some period of time. Assuming
a single constant rate and build-up, Theis (1935) and

t pa + ta
1 4t

+ pD (t pa ) ln pa ,
t

2
a

(3-15)

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Modern Fracturing

Horner (1951) determined a special superposition time


function (Horner time) appropriate for the build-up
portion of the test (see Eq. 3-15), where is a constant
equal to 1.781. ta is delta pseudo-time or alternatively
the pseudo-time since shut-in, tpa is the pseudo-time at
shut-in and pD(tpa) is the dimensionless pressure at tpa
and is an unknown constant.
If radial flow is present, then a semi-log plot of
m(pwf) versus (tpa + ta)/ta (the Horner plot) should
be linear. The permeability can be calculated from the
slope of this plot, and the y-intercept gives the false
pseudo-pressure (or m(p)*). An auxiliary equation
eliminates the unknown term pD(tpa) and gives the
skin. (In Section 3-12.1, Fig. 3-16 will illustrate the
use of this plot.) m(p)* can be interpreted as m(pi)
if minimal production from the field has occurred.
Matthews et al. (1954) established ways to determine
m(pi) from m(p)* where significant production has
occurred. Curvature in the Horner plot indicates
other flow regimes or a breakdown in the assumptions
related to the development of the plotting function,
such as a boundary. In practice it has proven very
difficult to pick the correct straight line on the Horner
plot, and a number of plausible and significantly
different results could be generated. This point will
be addressed in Section 3-11.
One can extend the Horner time concept for an
arbitrary series of rates, assuming infinite acting radial
flow (Earlougher, 1977). The resulting time function
is commonly called superposition time. The arbitrary
rate solution is presented in two forms:

(3-16a)

and

where qn is the gas rate in the nth flow period. Equation


3-16a is the classical definition in the textbooks (Dake,
1978, Eq. 8.49), and the superposition time function,
tasuper1, would plot on a linear scale. Equation 3-16b is
t
just a mathematical trick because ta sup er 2 = 10
. The
second superposition time function plotted on log
scale is identical in form to the Horner plot. Even
where radial flow is not strictly true, or boundaries
are felt in some of the earlier flow periods, the radial
superposition definition is used.
Some well test software no longer allows the direct
plotting of the original Horner plot, preferring to use
the more general superposition time concept. Dake
(1978 and 1994) strongly objected to analyses based
on superposition time because it is based on infinite
acting radial flow occurring throughout the entire test,
and not just the last flow period. He argued that if this
assumption were incorrect, the test would be inherently
misinterpreted. Until fairly recently there was no
adequate answer to his objections. This point will be
deferred to Section 3-11.
When superposition is used to generate plots in
the manner described so far, one can only analyze the
equivalent of the time within one flow period. This puts a
limit on the volume of the reservoir for which properties
can be determined. While the rate information is
incorporated into the superposition time term, causing an
adjustment in the pressure response, limited information
about earlier rates seeing a possible boundary is available.
This is an additional reason the build-up is the preferred
flow period to match: Direct control over the length of
this flow period can be exercised, independent of normal
field operating conditions. These limitations are only now
being circumvented by a process called deconvolution,
which will be discussed in Section 3-18. Deconvolution
allows the transformation of the entire well test, with
all its rate variations, into an equivalent constant rate
drawdown, covering the full length of the test.
a sup er 1

3-5 Model Development

(3-16b)

As work progressed from the 1950s, the solutions to


ever more complicated cases with a variety of boundary
conditions were being published (see Gringarten,
2006, for an overview). The most significant cases in
modern software include:

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

1. Non-centered wells in a rectangle.


2. Multiple radial composite rings (composite in
diffusivity (Eq. 3-7a) and storativity (Eq. 37b) coefficients, the normal variation being in
permeability only).
3. Multi-layered wells, which are only in pressure
communication through the wellbore.
4. Dual-porosity or naturally fractured wells.
Typically, these wells have a high-diffusivity,
low-storativity media connected to the wellbore.
A second media, with low diffusivity and high
storativity, feeds fluid into the first media. The
time delay in the low-storativity media becoming
dominant is what makes this system unique.
5. Infinite-conductivity hydraulically fractured wells
within a rectangle/circle.
6. Finite-conductivity hydraulically fractured wells
within a rectangle/circle.
7. Horizontal wells.
The difference between infinite- and finiteconductivity fracture behavior will be discussed in
the next section. A wide variety of inner boundary
conditions (constant rate or constant pressure with
or without wellbore storage and skin) and outer
boundary conditions (no flow, constant pressure or
leaky fault) have all been solved.

3-6 Hydraulically Fractured Wells


The analysis of hydraulically fractured wells is of
particular significance, because it is possible to quantify
in-situ fracture properties. PTA is one of the best ways
to determine the effectiveness of the treatments placed
in the field. Prats et al. (1962) performed one of the
first analyses of hydraulically fractured wells. For an
infinite-conductivity fracture, no significant pressure
drop occurs in the fracture. Laterafter radial flow
has been achievedthere is a relationship between
the fracture half-length, xf, and the effective wellbore
radius, rw. Knowing the effective wellbore radius, the
skin effect can be directly calculated from:
1
2

rw = x f ,

(3-17a)

rw = rwes or s = ln(rw / rw ).

(3-17b)

These formulae are used as simple checks to more


detailed analyses. Gringarten et al. (1974) developed
full solutions for the cases of infinite fracture
conductivity and uniform flux into a hydraulic
fracture within a rectangular drainage area. CincoLey et al. (1978) and Cinco-Ley and Samaniego
(1981a) developed solutions for the case of a finiteconductivity fracture (see also Section 4-6). The
dimensionless fracture conductivity, CfD (see Section
4-2.1.6) of a fracture is given by:
k w

f

C fD =

(3-18)

kx f

where kf w is the fracture conductivity. It is made


up of the fracture permeability kf and the fracture
width w. Values of CfD > 30 are normally considered
to be infinite conductivity. This concept is further
discussed in Section 4-2.1.6. In Cinco-Ley and
Samaniego (1981a) four possible transient flow
regimes are identified for hydraulically fractured
wells. These are shown in Fig. 8-4.
The first of these is fracture linear flow. No
production pressure response from the formation
has occurred at this stage. This is of extremely
short duration and is in practice not visible due to
wellbore storage effects. The second flow regime is
either bilinear flow (for finite-conductivity fractures)
or formation linear flow (for infinite-conductivity
fractures). For either case, this is followed by
elliptical flow, which is sometimes referred to as
pseudo-radial flow, and finally radial flow (infinite
acting radial flow or IARF).
Bilinear flow, which should be expected in the
vast majority of hydraulic fractures, and formation
linear flow have simple pseudo-pressure relationships
with time given by:
for bilinear flow

(3-19a)

with

(k f w)0.5 k 0.25 =

443.3581qT
,
h 0.25 (ct )i0.25 mbf

(3-19b)

and for formation linear flow,


and

(3-19c)

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Modern Fracturing
Table 3-1 Duration of Flow Regimes in Hours
Flow Regime

Equation
a)

1.53

t D = 0.0205 (C fD 1.5)

End of Bilinear Flow

1.6 CfD 3.0, first use Eq. a) to find tD


then use tD to solve Eq. b)

0.000264kt
tD =
( ct )i x 2f

b)

End of Formation Linear Flow

tD =

0.000264kt
( ct )i x 2f

0.016

Start of Radial Flow

tD =

0.000264kt
( ct )i rw2

3.0
slightly lower value for CfD 3

End of Infinite Acting Behavior

t DA =

0.000264kt
( ct )i A

0.1
circular bounded reservoir

Start of Pseudo-Steady State

t DA =

0.000264kt
( ct )i A

0.1
circular bounded reservoir

40.9521
x f k 0.5 = 0.5
,

h (ct )i0.5 mlf

(3-19d)

where mbf is the bilinear flow slope and mlf is the linear
flow slope. Horne (1997) has provided comprehensive
formulae to determine when these and other flow
regimes start and end (Table 3-1).
Cinco-Ley and Samaniego (1981a) presented
a chart, Fig. 3-2, showing how, after radial flow has
occurred, rw /xf relates to fracture conductivity. The
skin effect can be calculated from Eq. 3-17b.
1.00

rwa/xf

Value of tD or tDA

rw
= f (C fD ) =
x f

0.5
.
1.01
C fD
1 +
1.7

(3-20)

Work by Cinco-Ley and Samaniego (1981b) introduced


the idea of a damaged hydraulically fractured well. Two
possible cases were quantified: the so-called choked
fracture (Fig. 7-39) and a fluid loss damage case (Fig.
7-40). In practice it is not possible to determine from
pressure data alone which of these is occurring.
An analog to the radial superposition plot (a.k.a. the
generalized Horner plot) can be made for both bilinear
and linear flow, accounting for rate changes over the
production history. These are sometimes referred to as
the tandem quad-t and tandem root-t plots, respectively.
Like the radial superposition plot, they are generated
assuming transient flow occurs through all flow periods.

0.10

3-7 Specialized Plots

0.01
0.01

0.1

1
CfD

10

100

Figure 3-2 Relationship between effective wellbore


radius and CfD (from Cinco-Ley and Samaniego, 1981a)

Subsequently, Barree et al. (2003) used a curve fit to


put Fig. 3-2 into a simple equation:

Returning to the general case, specialized plots can


be constructed versus an appropriate time function
for a flow regime. These plots allow the calculation
of reservoir properties if the correct straight lines are
chosen. For radial flow, a plot of m(pi) m(pwf) or m(pwf)
versus log ta the so-called MDH plot from Miller et
al. (1950) should give a straight line. From Eq. 38, the slope is inversely proportional to permeability.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

Analogous plots for bilinear (m(pwf) versus ta0.25) and


linear flow (m(pwf) versus ta0.5) will allow one to determine
combinations of reservoir properties involving either (kf
w)0.5 k0.25 or xf k0.5, as given in Eqs. 3.19b and 3-19d and
shown in Figs. 3-3 and 3-4, respectively.
CfD = 1.6

m(pwf)

CfD > 1.6

CfD < 1.6

Slope Proportional to
1/((kf w)0.5k0.25)
ta0.25

Figure 3-3 Specialized bilinear flow plot (m(pwf) versus


ta0.25) for the determination of (kfw)0.5 k0.25

3-8 Type Curves and the Log-Log


Derivative Plot
All of the analysis procedures presented so far allow
one to analyze distinctive flow regimes such as radial or
formation linear flow. They do not allow one to analyze
transitions to other flow regimes or the late transient
flow period. The inability to pick an unambiguous
straight line for a hypothesized flow regime from the
plots was an additional frustration. To address both
of these issues, Ramey (1970) introduced the idea of
type curves. Gringarten et al. (1979) further extended
the type curve concept with a judicious choice of
variables to be used in the matching process. The
well test equations were re-formulated in terms of a
pressure difference defined as:

(3-21)
m( p ) = m( pwf , ta = 0) m( pwf , t a ) ,
where the vertical bars represent the absolute value
and m(pwf , ta = 0) represents the pseudo-pressure
at the beginning of the appropriate flow period (or
build-up). Fig. 3-5 illustrates the concept for both a
drawdown and build-up.

m(pwf)

End of Linear Flow

pi

Slope Proportional to
1/(xf k0.5)
ta0.5

Figure 3-4 Specialized linear flow plot (m(pwf) versus ta0.5)


for the determination of xf k0.5

Without radial flow, where permeability can be


uniquely determined, no decoupling of these terms is
possible. For bilinear flow there is no information with
respect to fracture length; in this case, length can only be
determined indirectly by history matching.
For multi-rate tests, one simply ignores the effect
of all previous flow periods for these specialized
plots, plotting variables in terms of ta, ta0.25 or
ta0.5 as appropriate. In the real world, determining
the correct straight line (or determining whether a
straight line even exists) is difficult, just as in the case
of the generalized Horner plot. The MDH plot, in
particular, is notorious for showing false straight lines,
or in some situations where radial flow is actually
occurring, no straight line at all.

%p

%p

pwf
tp
q1

%t
q2 = 0

Figure 3-5 Drawdown and build-up plots showing


definition of p and, by analogy, m(p) for each case

The distinguishing feature of any type curve is that


both axes are plotted in log coordinates. All reservoir
properties can be directly obtained from an overlay
match. For build-ups, there are problems in developing
type curves because they depend on the length of time
of the drawdown. Empirically it was shown that if the
flow period is long, then the build-up matches the
drawdown type curve, until bounded flow is observed.

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Agarwal (1980), assuming transient radial flow, applied


superposition consistent with the definition of m(p)
in Eq. 3-21. A time function called equivalent pseudotime, tae, was derived to handle these arbitrary flow
rate variations. This allowed the creation of an adjusted
drawdown type curve for all flow periods. For radial
flow, the solution for any flow period is:


(3-22)
where qn represents the flow rate for flow period
n. Equation 3-22 is analogous to Eq. 3-8. Similar
analogous expressions for wellbore storage, bilinear and
radial flow were developed as:
m( p )
= a1tae n ,
qn1 qn

(3-23a)

(3-24)

For various flow regimes this results in:

m( p ) =

1637T (qn1 qn )
(radial flow),
2.303kh

(3-25a)

m( p ) = nm( p ),

(3-23c)

40.9521
(n = 0.5),
h ( ct )i0.5 x f k 0.5

(3-23d)

where n is 1.0 for wellbore storage, 0.25 for bilinear


flow and 0.5 for formation linear flow, respectively.
Different equivalent pseudo-time expressions, which
are flow regime-specific, could be developed for these
last three flow regimes. In practice most software uses
the radial equivalent pseudo-time definition for all
cases because it typically does not appear to make much
difference. Even when the condition of transience is
violated as often happens in PTA the equivalent
pseudo-time function is still used.
The merits of type curve matching at early
times and small m(p) are obvious. The log-log
plot magnifies the data in this region. In practice
the transition from wellbore storage to radial flow
could more or less be determined. The resolution

(3-25b)

where n = 1 for wellbore storage, n = 0.25 for bilinear


flow and n = 0.5 for linear flow.
For build-ups qn = 0. The standard plot is a combined
Gringarten/derivative type curve alternatively called the
log-log derivative type curve and is shown in Fig. 3-6.
102

CDe2S 1060
1060

pD and (tD/CD) pDa

443.3581qT
(n = 0.25),
h 0.25 ( ct )i0.25 (k f w)0.5 k 0.25

0.5

d (m( p ))
d (m( p ))
= tae
d (ln tae )
d tae

(3-23b)

and
a1 =

m( p ) =

or

0.420082T
a1 =
(n = 1),
i C
a1 =

capability at late times and large m(p) is poor,


making it almost impossible to match different
middle to late time flow regimes.
In 1983, the biggest breakthrough in PTA occurred
with the introduction of the logarithmic pressure derivative
technique of Bourdet et al. (1983). This coincided with
the industry adaptation of high-resolution electronic
gauges capable of a virtual avalanche of recorded data
values. Because numerical differentiation of data is
inherently a dispersive process, the pressure derivative
could not be successfully applied to older, less accurate,
pressure measurements. The logarithmic derivative (often
just called the derivative) for gas wells is defined as:

101

1020
1010
104
102
3 x 10-1

1020
1010
10
102

CDe2S 3 x 10

-1

10-1 -1
10

10

102

103

104

tD/CD

Figure 3-6 Radial flow with wellbore storage type curve


(after Bourdet et al., 1983)

At early times, while in wellbore storage, m(p)


has unit slope. There is then a transition into pure
radial flow, which is different for various skin values.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

1000
%tae
%ta
100
%m(p)a

(3-26a)

or

m( p) q =

m( p )
qn1

or

m( p )
q


(3-26b)

for build-ups, qn = 0, and qn-1 is the flow rate before the


build-up. For the previously identified flow regimes
the normalized derivative is independent of rate. For
complicated multi-rate tests with a number of buildups, overlaying the various normalized derivatives for
all the build-ups in a single plot is a necessary quality
control step (Fig. 3-8). Differences in permeability from
one build-up to the next may be a result of reported rate
errors. Changes in skin may be an indicator of non-Darcy
effects. For hydraulically fractured wells any changes in
properties may be a result of post-fracture cleanup.
1000

q1 > q 2 > q3
100
q1
q2
q3

10

1
0.0001

mIf =

0.001

0.01

0.1

10

%ta

Figure 3-8 For a multi-rate test, overlay of rate


normalized derivatives for different build-ups

10
mc = 1

0.01

m( p )

m( p ) q =
,

qn1 qn

Correct Stabilized Derivative Slope

mbf =

1
0.001

In practice one can use t, defined as the time from


the end of the previous flow period, instead of ta as an
x-axis plotting variable for the majority of cases.
Derivative plots are useful primarily for buildups because even very small changes in production
rate destroy the character of the derivative plot in
drawdown periods. Another useful definition is
the normalized derivative:

%m(p)a/q

Once radial flow is achieved m(p) is constant and


is inversely proportional to permeability. At times
beyond those shown in the figure, the character would
change depending upon whether the test was a buildup or a drawdown. For build-ups m(p) approaches
zero, while a drawdown approaches pseudo-steady
conditions and m(p) has unit slope, much like the
wellbore storage curve.
For the other three flow regimes referenced in Eq.
3-25b, the derivative curves are parallel to the m(p)
curve and displaced by n. In Section 3-12.1, Fig. 317 illustrates the concept for a finite conductivity
fracture. Fig. 3-17 also shows how skin affects a
finite-conductivity fracture. This skin can be either as
a result of a choked fracture or fluid damage. Note the
flattening of the slope of the derivative curve coming
out of wellbore storage, before bilinear flow.
The process of computing the derivative
is clear; derivatives are taken with respect to
equivalent pseudo-time, tae. What time function
is used when plotting log-log derivative type curves?
Anderson et al. (2002) showed that the correct
time function to plot on the x-axis is the delta
pseudo-time, ta. The equivalent pseudo-time, tae,
should not be used. This ensures that the shape
of the build-up type curve is as close as possible
to the drawdown type. Figure 3-7 shows how a
hydraulically fractured well with finite conductivity
( slope) may be misinterpreted as an infinite
conductivity fracture ( slope) when the wrong time
function is used on the x-axis plot.

3-9 Flow Regime Identification


0.1

10

100

1000

Time

Figure 3-7 Possible misinterpretation of finite


conductivity fracture ( slope) as infinite conductivity
fracture ( slope) when the wrong time function is used

The log-log derivative type curve is the flow


regime identification/diagnostic tool for PTA. It
is uniquely capable of identifying all flow regimes
from early time through the late transient period

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Modern Fracturing

into boundary-dominated flow. The plot can


also be used as a property calculator after the
appropriate lines for a flow regime are overlaid on
the plot. Alternatively or in addition, superposition
plots or specialized plots can be used as property
calculators
after
identifying
from
log-log
derivative type curves the appropriate time ranges
over which they apply.
A library of derivative responses for various types
of reservoir models and flow regimes is shown in Fig.
3-9 (The annotated letter below correspond to the
graphs in Fig. 3-9).

1. Early Transient Time
Wellbore storage:

1 slope

Spherical flow:

slope

Infinite-conductivity
fracture:

slope

Finite-conductivity
fracture:

slope

0 slope

2. Middle Transient Time


Radial flow:
3. Late Transient Time
Single bounding fault:

0 slope line (stabilizes at double the


E
value of a previous
0 slope line

Well producing from a


corner of a rectangle:

monotonically increasing derivative

Composite
permeability:

wavy derivative

Dual porosity:

dip and then climb


H
in derivative

Channel flow (long


narrow rectangle):

slope

4. Bounded Flow
Drawdown:

1 slope

Build-up:

derivative falls
downward off the
plot

These type curves are more or less appropriate


for build-ups if the procedure for calculating and
plotting them (outlined in Section 3-8) is followed.
In boundary-dominated flow the build-up type curves
significantly differ from the drawdown type curves,
but this behavior is readily identified. A summary of
the most significant derivative responses is given by
Economides et al. (1994) and Economides and Nolte
(2000), and represents a generalization of the material
presented in Section 3-8.
The late transient flow regime is a particularly
interesting topic. Except for the case of a single bounding
fault, this flow period was not analyzable before the
advent of the log-log derivative type curve. The late
transient period is characterized by irregularities in the
derivative. Because of the present emphasis on matching
the last build-up in a test, the current generation of
analysts has gone to great lengths to match these irregular
derivative responses. This is helped by powerful nonlinear regression algorithms, which are part of most
current software systems.
To match the late transient time, one of two models
is typically chosen: the non-centered well in a rectangle
or the multi-composite radial model. A maximum of
three boundaries can be felt at varying times in the
non-centered well model before bounded flow occurs.
Each boundary gives half the value of the apparent
permeability on the derivative plot, by the equivalent
of doubling the slope on the Horner plot (Earlougher,
1977). This model can only work if the derivative is
increasing with time at the end of the test.
The radial multi-composite model is less restrictive.
One can put radial rings of different diffusivity (normally
by changing permeability) and storativity. With this
model a match of any derivative signature is possible,
whether the derivative goes up or down. Are such models
to be believed, or is this just a mathematical exercise? It
is clear that in most circumstances the analyst is only
accomplishing the latter. Kelly (1996) describes the
absurdity of this approach to PTA matching, where the
geological framework is completely ignored.
Dake (1994) recounts a story where a number of
software vendors were asked to present solutions to well
test problems at a comparative solution forum. These
problems exhibited a variety of late transient effects.
Unfortunately the vendors were given only the pressure

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

Log-Log
Diagnostic

Homer Plot

10.0

1.00

Specialized Plot
Wellbore Storage

101

5.0

0.50

0.0
100

0.00
0.0

100

Infinite-acting
radial flow
From specialized plot

10-1 -1
10

100

101
%ta

102

103

101

102 103 104


(tpa %ta) %ta

105

106

0.50
%ta

1.00

8.0

102

Wellbore Storage

101

10
10

Partial penetration

4.0

Infinite-acting
radial flow

-1

10-2

100

101

102

103
%ta

104

0.0
100 101 102 103 104 105 106
(tpa %ta) %ta

105

4.0

0.50

101

100

2.0

0.25
xfk0.5

10-1
10-2 -4
10

10-3

10-2

10-1
%ta

100

101

D 10

101

102 103 104


(tpa %ta) %ta

0.00
0.0

105

3.0

101
10

0.0
100

0.01
%ta0.5

0.02

0.50

1.5

-1

0.25
(kfw)0.5 k0.25

10-2
10-3
10-5 10-4 10-3 10-2 10-1 100
%ta

101

0.0
100

101

102 103 104


(tpa %ta) %ta

105

106

0.00
0.0

0.25

0.50

%ta0.25

Wellbore storage
Infinite-acting
radial flow

101
5.0
100

Sealing fault

10-1
101

102

103

104

105

106

0.0
100

101

%ta

102
103
104
(tpa %ta) %ta

105

10.0

102

Bilinear flow to a
finite-conductivity
vertical fracture
From specialized plot

10.0

102

Linear flow to an
infinite-conductivity
vertical fracture
From specialized plot

101

Wellbore storage
5.0

100

No-flow boundary

10-1
10-2 -5
10 10-4 10-3 10-2 10-1 100 101
%ta

103
104
(tpa %ta) %ta

105

40

102

0.0
102

101

60

Wellbore storage
Linear channel flow

20

30
bk

100
10-1 -5
10

10

0.5

10-4

10-3

10-2
%ta

10-1

100

100

101

102

103

104

105

106

(tpa %ta) %ta

10-1 10-1 10-1 10-1 10-1 10-1 10-1


%ta0.5

10.0

Wellbore storage

101

10

Dual-porosity matrix
to fissure fow
(pseudosteady state)

5.0

10-1
10-2
10-1 100

From specialized plot

101

102
%ta

103

104

105

0.0
100

101

102

103

104

105

106

(tpa %ta) %ta

Pressure

Slopes

Data Points

Figure 3-9 Derivative responses for various types of reservoir models and flow regimes (from Economides et al., 1994)

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Modern Fracturing

3-10 Derivatives A Few Cautionary


Remarks
Log-log derivative plots have truly revolutionized PTA.
However, the analyst needs to be aware of a number of
issues when applying the technique.
Although the derivative plot significantly reduces
the uncertainty of flow regime identification, it can also
generate false information in two circumstances:
1. If a drawdown is terminated in the middle of a late
transient flow regime, the subsequent build-up type
curve will have a different shape than the drawdown
type curve. This is usually not significant but can
result in either a false diagnostic or an inappropriate
reservoir property value being calculated.
2. A more serious problem is the effect of rate variation
on the build-up type curve. Traditionally in PTA
the rate profile variation has been de-emphasized
because the rate information has historically been
of poor quality. As a result, since the time of the
introduction of the Horner plot, the well test
community has adjusted producing time by the
known cumulative production divided by the
last measured rate, giving one big flow period.
Additionally, the pressure data during the drawdown
at the best of times shows scatter, and the derivative
technique fails during these flow periods.
As a result, industry practice is to worry about only
one pressure in the drawdown period the last point
before shut-in and match exclusively on the last

build-up. What are the consequences of simplifying


rate variation in a PTA? Gringarten (2006) has studied
this problem. Figure 3-10 shows an example of the
derivative of the last build-up for various simplifications
of the actual rate history. This shape might mistakenly
be interpreted as boundary effects. The bad news is that
the distortion occurs primarily at late time in the buildup, a non-intuitive finding. Rate errors particularly
occur for post-fracture tests that are conducted shortly
after treatment because cleanup of fracturing fluid
may go unreported or be considerably simplified.
The effect of oversimplification on the pressure
derivative also holds for the Horner, superposition and
specialized plots. The current paradigm in well test
analysis is to match every variation in the derivative
of the last build-up to a high level of accuracy,
while completely ignoring the drawdown. This is
fundamentally flawed, and more attention must be
paid to the drawdown both in terms of describing
its rate variation and in matching the pressure. PTAs
major objective is to provide a production forecast,
which involves a drawdown. To achieve higher-quality
matches, a linear pressure plot versus time throughout
the whole test has to be used as a guideline to any
match. This can help resolve inevitable uniqueness
issues in matching field data.
1000

%m(p) and %m(p)a

data without the framework of a geological setting. Not


surprisingly, a wide variety of incompatible solutions
were presented. PTA cannot exist in isolation from a
geological model because uniqueness issues inherently
plague the analysis process. After a PTA is performed, it
has to be revisited in the terms of the actual production
performance of the well. Too often reports are simply
filed away and never looked at again. If the analyst is
truly interested in reservoir characterization the
discipline of integrating various disparate information
sources everything must be subject to continuous
review as more information becomes available. Only in
this way will the industry have a hope of generating
better production forecasts.

45% Error in
Produced Volume in
the Rate History.

100

Correct
Stabilzation Line

10
%m(p)
%m(p)a
Model
1
0.001

0.01

0.1

10

100

1000

%ta

Figure 3-10 Example of the derivative response of the last


build-up for various simplifications of the actual rate history

The dispersive nature of taking pressure derivatives


has already been mentioned. Each commercial software
package makes default decisions about how derivatives
will be calculated for observed pressure. The software
vendor is in a quandary as to the degree of smoothing

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

that is applied. With too little smoothing, the plots look


bad from an aesthetic point of view; with too much,
some artifacts of the smoothing algorithm may look like
real reservoir effects.
In most cases the user will have some control
over how the derivative is calculated (i.e. the amount
of smoothing that will take place). Therefore, it is
imperative that the analyst understand the ideas behind
these algorithms. The simplest and, perhaps best, way
of calculating derivatives was presented by Bourdet et
al. (1987). It is a 3-point calculation, and as the name
implies, three values are used. The central point is at
the time value in question. The other two points are
selected at a set distance (delta or ) in each direction
(one earlier and one later in time). Because the plots are
logarithmic, the distance is a set fraction of a log cycle.
This can be thought of as the window for the derivative
calculation. This has been called the Bourdet derivative
or "moving window" derivative and is available in most
software. By default most vendors give a of 0.1 (1/10
of a log cycle) as shown in Fig. 3-11

Figure 3-11 Consequences of using a derivative


smoothing window of 0.1

Figure 3-12 Consequences of using a derivative


smoothing window of 0.0001 when the data is at the
limits of the gauge resolution

When one is within of the end of the flow period,


the calculation uses only 2 points because it cannot look
upstream. It is too dangerous to use only the last point
in the flow period. Therefore there is a loss of accuracy
at the end. Trying to attribute reservoir affects to these
last few points in time is not recommended.
As a start, it is recommended that raw unfiltered
data be used and be made equal to the smallest value
permissible. This will force the use of successive points
for derivative calculations. This will create maximum
dispersion of the derivative (minimal smoothing).
Bands of unit slope emanating into a widening cloud
(trumpeting) will result in some cases, as seen in a
comparison of Figs. 3-12 and 3-11. This is an indication
that either limits on gauge resolution or the sampling
algorithm used for reporting data from the gauge are
being met: The pressure data is being gauged off.
Careful consideration is required before attributing
any fluctuations in the derivative plot after this time to
reservoir effects, regardless of the smoothing algorithm
one ultimately chooses for presentation purposes.
There is a danger that the smoothing algorithm may
introduce artifacts (Mattar, 1996).
After resolving the issue of which data to use, the
analyst will inevitably see variations in the derivative
curve. The question the analyst faces is what should be
matched and what can safely be ignored? Brown and
Hawkes (2005) addressed this issue: If a derivative
transition concludes in less than one-half a log cycle,
it is not a reservoir effect. Transition is defined as a
change from one flow regime to another.
On a related manner, Mattar and Zaoral (1992)
have studied the issue of distinguishing between
wellbore effects and reservoir effects. Due to the
nature of the diffusivity equation it is intuitively
obvious that after a rate change there will be an
associated pressure change, the effect of which will
diminish with time. Mathematically this is equivalent
to stating that the primary pressure derivative with
respect to time (or the PPD), defined as dp/dt, must
decrease with time for a build-up. If it increases with
time at any point, then this is not a reservoir effect
and is instead related to something going on in the
wellbore. One should not attempt to match nonreservoir effects, and as a precaution such data should
be removed from the observed data. Unfortunately

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non-reservoir effects cannot be seen in the log-log


derivative. As a result, a PPD diagnostic plot should
be plotted for all build-up flow periods at the prescreening stage of the interpretation.

3-11 PTA Interpretation Methods


One might think that with proper implementation of
the log-log derivative type curve, all other plots would be
rendered obsolete. This is not the case. The determination
of initial pressure for early tests still requires the
generalized Horner plot extrapolation to m(p)*. Issues
related to where to draw the straight line on a Horner
plot are resolved by determining the times associated
with radial flow from the log-log derivative plot. This
is shown by comparing both Figs. 3-13 and 3-14. The
log-log derivative plot has therefore resolved Horner plot
ambiguity that plagued early analysts.

%m(p) and %m(p)a

1000

100

Correct Semilog Slope


10

%m(p)
%m(p)a
1
0.0001

0.001

0.01

0.1

10

100

%ta

Figure 3-13 Onset of semi-logarithmic (Horner) straight


line identified on log-log derivative plot
700
650
Cor

rec
t

m(p)

600
550

Sem

ilog

Slo

pe

500
450
400

10

100

1000
10000
Horner Time

100000 1000000

Figure 3-14 Correct semi-logarithmic straight line on


Horner plot as identified by log-log plot

One common error in well test interpretation


is to indiscriminately draw a straight line through
the last few points of the Horner plot to determine
k and m(p)*. Theory only supports extrapolation in
the time range where radial flow is identified. In the
case of a hydraulically fractured well, where clearly
defined bilinear or formation linear flow occurs at the
end, extrapolation is not permitted. Each of these flow
regimes occurs before radial flow is achieved. However,
extrapolation is often done to see what k and m(p)*
would be if radial flow occurred at the instant the test
was finished. This is a bounding case where k would
be at a maximum and m(p)* would be at a minimum.
When late transient effects are occurring, as in Fig. 314, extrapolating the last few points of the Horner plot
is completely unjustified.
Another reason that log-log pressure derivative
plots cannot be used exclusively for matching is that
for large values of m(p) on the log-log derivative
plot, the m(p) values are highly compressed. The
m(p) values are also not so sensitive to an absolute
error difference in the calculated pressure. Therefore
plots where pressure is on a linear scale on the y-axis
must be included in the matching process. Specialized
plots including the generalized Horner plot are also
acceptable, although interpreting straight lines on
specialized plots can be fraught with danger.
It is recommended that four plots be included in
any match:
1. Linear plot of pressures versus time for all flow
periods
2. Log-log derivative plot
3. Superposition (or Horner) plot for radial flow
4. Specialized plot (depending upon the flow regime)
At this point the reader may feel skeptical of
everything that has been discussed. The authors have
presented some complex mathematics and a number
of plotting techniques, all of which appear to be
flawed. It seems to be impossible to verify whether
the underlying simplifying assumptions are correct or
not. If this were the mid 1970s, as Gringarten (2006)
implies, the reader would have a right to feel this way.
By their very nature, straight-line analyses based on the
recommended plots may lead to incorrect flow regime
identification with false reservoir properties.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

Things are not as bad as they seem. The following


steps are recommended and form the basis of all current
interpretation techniques:
1. Perform flow regime identification via the log-log
derivative plot and calculate reservoir properties
from any plot as if the appropriate underlying
assumptions are correct.
2. Use forward simulation to calculate a pressure
profile. In the forward simulation step all
unknowns have been defined. A rigorous pressure
versus time calculation is made based on the
selected flow model and rate superposition.
3. Overlay the calculated pressure profile on the
various plots. If the underlying assumptions
used in the straight-line analysis are correct, the
computed pressure will overlay the straight-line
analysis. This in turn will overlay the observed
pressure data. Even in the best of circumstances,
there will be some mismatch.
4. If one is close, then fine-tune the selected model
by either manually adjusting reservoir properties
or by using non-linear regression.
5. If the flow regime is completely off, the calculated
pressure profile may be significantly different than
anticipated. One then needs to select another
plausible flow model and repeat the process.
A natural consequence of this procedure is
that any incorrect assumptions will be picked up by
inconsistencies in the resulting forward simulation
pressure match. The process has a feedback loop, which
is self-checking, and alleviates Dakes (1994) previously
mentioned objections.

3-12 Difference Between High and Low


Permeability Analysis Techniques
Permeability controls two aspects of reservoir
response: The first aspect is the rate at which a well
can be produced. The higher the permeability, the
higher the production rate will be. The second aspect
is the velocity at which the pressure signal travels
through the reservoir. Velocity is proportional to
the diffusivity coefficient given in Eq. 3-7a, which
also shows velocity is proportional to permeability.
It is important to note that Eq. 3-7a does not

include a rate term. If a flow and build-up test were


performed on a high- and low-permeability well with
flow periods of the same duration, with otherwise
identical properties, the depth of investigation into
the reservoir would be much smaller for the lowpermeability case. Of course for the low-permeability
well the absolute drawdown at the well would be
higher if the rates were the same in the corresponding
tests. As a result, low-permeability reservoirs will take
much longer to achieve radial flow. For this reason,
hydraulically fractured low-permeability wells rarely
exhibit radial flow. The amount of time allocated for
testing will simply not allow it to happen. The lack of
a distinct period of radial flow leads to interpretation
difficulties, which in turn directly affects the analysts
ability to generate accurate production profiles, or
indeed optimize any future wells treatment.
3-12.1 High-Permeability Wells
High-permeability gas wells will flow even when
heavily damaged. As a result it is possible to do a proper
pre-treatment test, so that fracture optimization
according to the principles outlined in Section 4-5
can be performed. When high-permeability wells
have been tested before fracturing, one is typically
looking for an estimate of permeability, skin and
reservoir pressure. Techniques outlined in Section 39 work for most cases because radial flow normally
occurs quite quickly. For wells exhibiting classic
wellbore storage, positive skin and radial flow, the
match is done with a combination log-log derivative
type curve and the superposition plot.
Complications occur only when non-Darcy effects
become large (see Section 3-13) or late transient effects
complicate the derivative interpretation. For the latter
case, instead of trying to reconcile all of the characteristics
in the build-ups derivative, it is recommended to keep
the models fairly simple and develop a reasonable
range of reservoir properties. Reservoir drainage areas,
shapes and possibly heterogeneities should be estimated
based on offset well production performance data
when available, and not on late time characteristics in
the derivative plot of the subject well. In the authors
experience, long-term production profiles rarely match
early complex PTA-derived models.

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Modern Fracturing

particular match value of value for m(p) and ta


to compute xf k0.5). Using the permeability from
Step 1, calculate xf.
4. Compute the wellbore storage coefficient from
early time data.
5. Perform forward simulation with nonlinear
regression to improve the match.

In other cases a post-fracture well test is performed.


For high-permeability wells, radial flow will likely be
evident at the end of the build-up. The interpretation of
such a test is relatively straightforward for an infinite- or
finite-conductivity fracture. The log-log plot in Fig. 315 and the corresponding superposition plot in Fig. 3-16
illustrate the case for an infinite-conductivity fracture.
1000

%m(p) and %m(p)a

%m(p)
%m(p)a
Step 1

100

mrf= 0
n=
10

Step 4
mc = 1

mlf=
1
0.0001 0.001
0.01

Step 3: From
Position of Slope
Line Determine xf k0.5
0.1

%ta

10

100

1000

Figure 3-15 Log-log analysis procedure for highpermeability, infinite-conductivity fracture


1000

m(p)* gives m(pi)

900
Steps 1 and 2

m(p)

800
700

Slope Inversely
Proportional to kh

600

The case for a finite-conductivity fracture is


illustrated in Fig. 3-17 and is slightly different:
1. Determine permeability from the derivative or
superposition plot.
2. Calculate m(p)* from an extrapolation of the
superposition plot.
3. Compute the permeability/fracture conductivity
term (kf w)0.5k0.25 from the derivative plot by
overlaying a quarter-slope interpretation line on the
derivative curve. (Use Eqs. 3-23a, 3-23c and 3-25b
at a particular match value of value for m(p) and
ta to compute (kf w)0.5k0.25).Using the permeability
from Step 1 calculate kf w.
4. Make an initial estimate of xf based upon
side information.
5. Compute the wellbore storage coefficient from
early time data.
6. Perform forward simulation with nonlinear
regression, on amongst other variables, xf, to
improve the match.

500
1000

400

101

102

103

104

105

106

107

Horner Time

Figure 3-16 Superposition plot procedure for highpermeability, infinite-conductivity fracture

The interpretation process for an infinite


conductivity fracture is as follows:
1. Determine permeability from the derivative or
superposition plot.
2. Calculate m(p)* from an extrapolation of the
superposition plot.
3. Compute the permeability/fracture half-length
term xf k0.5 from the derivative plot by overlaying
a half-slope interpretation line on the derivative
curve. (Use Eqs. 3-23a, 3-23d and 3-25b at a

%m(p) and %m(p)a

300
100

100

10

The Early Time "Hump"


in the Derivative is an Indicator
of Fracture Face Skin.

Step 1

n=

mrf= 0

Step 5

Step 3: From
Position of
Slope Line
Determine
(kfw)0.5k0.25

mbf=

mc = 1

%m(p)
%m(p)a
1
0.0001

0.001

0.01

0.1

1
%ta

10

100

1000

Figure 3-17 Log-log analysis procedure for lowpermeability, finite-conductivity fracture

Six months or so after the well has been stimulated


and put on production, the well tests should be reviewed
in light of actual production data.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

3-12.2 Low-Permeability Wells Pre-Treatment


Evaluation
Low-permeability (tight) gas wells normally do not flow
before being hydraulically fractured. Additionally, posttreatment evaluation of low-permeability wells can be
difficult to analyze as will be discussed in Sections 3-12.5
and 3-12.6. To circumvent this problem one can run
pre-fracture tests that do not require flow to the surface.
Alternatively, mini-frac tests can be performed. They will
but will be addressed separately in Section 3-17.
The types of tests that do not require flow to
surface are Perforation Inflow Diagnostic (PID) tests,
impulse tests, back-surge tests and closed chamber
tests (CCT). These are all similar in methodology.
This section will concentrate on PID testing, a
subset of general CCT technology. The procedure for
measurements during perforating testing is:
1. Remove liquids and gases from the wellbore
in order to create underbalanced conditions
before perforating.
2. Perforate the well.
3. Record surface and/or subsurface pressures in
a closed-chamber environment continuously
throughout the wellbore fill-up period. This is
accomplished by having the surface valve closed
throughout the test.
The range of tool configurations is wide and can be as
elaborate as a tubing-conveyed perforating (TCP) system
using a drill stem test (DST) string through to a rigless
operation with an E-line perforating truck and surface
pressure recorders. Production rate into the wellbore is
not measured. The PID test can be repeated up-hole as
necessary with a plug being placed between successive
perforation events, possibly with a recorder below the
plug to monitor earlier perforation events. Alternatively,
because the wells are usually producing at such a low rate,
the wellhead valve can be re-opened before the second
perforating event and the well blown down. Then one
has commingled flow from the second perforating event
and the still-flowing first event to interpret. If at any time
the build-up in pressure is occurring too slowly for the
time allotted for the test, various plugs can be placed in
the tubing via wireline to reduce the tubing volume and
correspondingly reduce the wellbore storage.

Open-hole wireline tests, commonly referred to


as repeat formation tests (RFTs), are another way of
obtaining reservoir pressure and permeability. However
RFTs have proved problematic in low-permeability
gas reservoirs because of the possibility of pressure
supercharging. This occurs when excess pressure is
locked into the formation as a result of the drilling
process. Low reservoir permeability prevents the excess
pressure from bleeding off into the formation. Because
the container volume of the RFT tool is small, one
may not be able to get beyond the supercharged region
during the test. Obviously interpreting such a test for pi
may lead to wrong or ambiguous values. In cased-hole
CCT, the volume of the tubing/wellbore combination
is on the order of barrels, and the test data sees well
beyond any supercharged zone.
The modern interpretation process for closed
chamber testing was introduced to industry by
Alexander (1977). Rate, although not measured, is
calculated from the wellbore pressure using the wellbore
compressibility equation:
q
= Vwcw

dp
.
dt

(3-27)

where Vw is the wellbore storage and cw is the


compressibility of the wellbore fluid. The term Vw
may change with time as a result of an intervention,
such as placement of a plug that changes the wellbore
volume. The rate typically declines rapidly, with a
possible early time plateau if sonic velocity occurs
through the perforations.
For analysis purposes the reservoir is assumed
to always be in transient radial flow. Rahman et al.
(2005) have solved this problem for all times, when
the wellbore volume is constant. Early and late time
solutions are respectively:
m( pwf ) = m( pwf 0 ) +

kh(m( pi ) m( pwf 0 ))ta


603.63Vw (ct )i S

(early time),
m( pwf ) = m( pi ) +

(late time),

(3-28a)
301.82Vw (ct )i (m( pi ) m( p f w0 ))
khta

(3-28b)

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Modern Fracturing

where m(pwf0) is the initial pseudo-pressure of the


wellbore. The logarithmic derivative of both of these
functions can be calculated from Eq. 3-25b. The early
time solution, Eq. 3-28a is identical in form to the
standard wellbore storage equation and will plot as a
unit-slope line on a log-log derivative plot. The late time
solution from Eq. 3-28b will have a 1-slope on the
same log-log derivative plot. Permeability can be directly
determined from this plot after the 1-slope radial flow
regime has been identified. A hump on the derivative
plot is an indicator of skin damage, analogous to that on
a PTA derivative plot. Rahman et al. (2005) use the socalled impulse derivative of Kuchuk (1999) to develop a
slightly different form of the log-log derivative plot. The
impulse derivative is defined as:
m( p )im = ta2

d (m( p ))
.
dta

(3-29)

In their approach, wellbore storage is represented by a line


of slope of 2, and the radial flow regime has a slope of 0.
The late time solution from Eq. 3-28b is of the
same form as one given by Soliman (1986). The impulse
solution is the limiting case when the flow time is small
compared with the build-up time. A plot of m(pwf)
versus 1/ta will be a straight line when radial flow is
occurring. Extrapolation to 1/ta = 0 will give the initial
pressure. To handle the most general case of changing
wellbore conditions, such as would occur if a plug were
lowered in the hole during the test, one requires rate
convolution (superposition). Based upon the work
of Simmons (1986) and Meunier et al. (1985), the
working equation for gas then becomes:

n + q (ta ) s ,
q ref
ref

log (ta ) +
m( pwf ) = m( pi ) m

q

(3-30)

where qref represents the calculated rate at time zero via


Eq. 3-27, immediately after the closed chamber test
is a slope term and s is an apparent
is initiated, m

skin, which contains the true skin and permeability.


Equation 3-30 has the form of a straight-line y
x when permeability and skin have been
= b m
estimated properly. The right side of Eq. 3-31a is
the rate convolution build-up time function and is
plotted as the x-axis with the left side of the equation
is inversely proportional
as the y-axis The slope m
to formation flow capacity, kh. For a full PID
evaluation, four plots are generated, each of which
has diagnostic and calculation capabilities. These will
be reviewed in Example 3-1.
3-12.3 Example 3-1, PID Test
This shallow gas well was perforated underbalanced (dry),
and pressures were obtained using only surface recorders
for 16 hours. Surface pressures were converted to sandface
conditions using the wellbore and gas properties shown
in Table 3-2. Figure 3-18 is the interpreted pwf and
calculated gas rate response during the fill-up period. The
log-log derivative plot is shown in Fig. 3-19.
Table 3-2 Wellbore and Reservoir Properties for
Example 3-1
Gas Specific Gravity

0.56

Reservoir Temperature, F

72

Expected Reservoir Pressure, psi

690

Casing Volume, ft

387

Perforation Interval, ft TVD

2086 - 2101

Shots Per Foot

Radial flow begins at 1.65 hours. If a hump in the


derivative occurs, indicated by the region having a slope
steeper than 1, there is positive skin. This does not
happen in Fig. 3-19. The m(pwf) plot in Fig. 3-20 allows
the calculation of an initial pressure by extrapolating to a
1/ta of 0. The rate convolution plot used for calculating
permeability is given in Fig. 3-21.

n2 q

j +1 q j
((t an t aj ) log (t an t aj ) (t an t a ( j +1)) log (t an t a ( j +1)))
=

t j +1 t j
j =1

+ 0.434 (q 0 q n ) + (q n q n1) log (t an t a ( n1))

(3-31a)

and

k
+ 2.09 .
2

(ct )i rw


s = 1.151 s log

(3-31b)

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation


500

200

450

180

400

160
140

300

120

Pressure
CCT Rate

250

100

200

80

150

60

100

40

50

20

q, Mscf/d

pwf, psi

350

4
6
8
10
12
Time Since Perforating, hrs

0
16

14

Figure 3-18 For Example 3-1, observed pressure data


and calculated gas rate response during fill-up

%m(p) and %m(p)a

100

10

Approximate
Start of Radial
Flow @ 1.65 hrs

1
mrf = -1
0.1
%m(p)
%m(p)a

0.01
0.001

0.01

0.1

ta

10

100

Figure 3-19 Log-log derivative plot for Example 3-1


2.5
m(p)*gives p*=478 psi

m(p) x 107

2.0
Approximate Start of
Radial Flow @ 1.65 hrs

1.5

1.0

0.5

0.5

1.5

2.5
1/ta

3.5

4.5

Figure 3-20 For Example 3-1, an inverse time plot


2.5
s = - 0.2
s = +1.2
s = +2.2

m(p) x 107

2.0

3-12.4 Low-Permeability Wells


Post-Treatment Evaluation

Match Properties
kh = 1.8 md-ft
s = +1.2

1.5
1.0
0.5
0

0.05

0.1

0.15
0.2
0.25
Rate Convolution Time

0.3

0.35

Figure 3-21 For Example 3-1, a rate convolution time


plot

Experience with using these tests indicates that


the following guidelines should be applied:
1. CCTs are particularly suited to low-permeability
(k 10 md) wells because of the relatively
small wellbore volume. Performing the test in
wells with higher permeability will nevertheless
provide an excellent estimate of reservoir
pressure because the pressure builds up rapidly,
overcoming wellbore storage effects.
2. In ultra low-permeability wells (k 0.01 md),
downhole shut-in tools may be required to
achieve practical testing times.
3. Confidence levels on permeability estimates
can be low on some ultra low-permeability
reservoirs due to such factors as limited
entry perforating and perforation efficiency.
Confidence level for reservoir pressure, on the
other hand, remains high.
4. Typically CCTs are run underbalanced to allow
perforation clean-up and often result in negative
skin effects (see Section 6-4.3).
5. In overbalanced wells (pore pressure gradient
is greater than hydrostatic gradient of wellbore
fluid) surface pressures recorders typically
provide excellent results.
6. A pressure rate of change of 7 psi/day can be
used as End of Test for field engineers when
diagnostic log-log plots are not utilized to ensure
the end of storage dominated flow.
7. Because the skin term in Eq. 3-31b is a
function of both skin and permeability,
several iterations may be necessary to calculate
the formation properties. Typically an iterated
skin range of 2.5 will provide a satisfactory
straight line when using the rate convolution
plotting technique.

0.4

Interpretation difficulties for hydraulically fractured


wells primarily arise because radial flow does not
occur by the end of the test. This happens in the
majority of lower-permeability wells. Many lowpermeability gas wells are tested immediately after
being stimulated because it is a convenient time

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Modern Fracturing

and regulatory authorities often require that all gas


wells be tested. It is convenient because the pipeline
is probably still being built, and the well cannot
produce anyway. An interpreter must be aware that
such wells may not have sufficiently cleaned up, and
the assumption of single-phase flow may be violated.
Monitoring of the liquid production rate under such
circumstances is critical. This topic will be reviewed
in detail in Section 3-16.3.
Low-permeability wells are typically in
formation linear flow or bilinear flow at the end
of the test because it takes a very long time to
get into radial flow. Operators are normally not
willing to run tests for the length of time required
to achieve radial flow. Because there is no radial
flow, permeability and initial reservoir pressure are
hard to determine (if a pretreatment test was not
performed). Without initial pressure, it is difficult
to decide the ideal well spacing for the field. The
trend in the industry is to drill low-permeability
gas wells on lower and lower well spacing. At some
point, depleted areas are bound to be encountered,
and efficient drainage of reserves will not occur.
Without the initial pressure, it is not possible to
make rational well spacing decisions. Additionally,
without a reasonable value for permeability, initial
production forecasts will be significantly off,
diminishing any ability to diagnose the success or
failure of the actual treatment.
Garcia et al. (2006) assigned typical well
and hydraulic fracture properties from a North
American gas well. They considered the case of an
infinite-conductivity fracture. They then modeled
a typical well test on such a well and tried to
interpret the calculated results in the normal
manner, i.e., they tried to determine k, xf and
pi. At the end of the test the well test showed
formation linear flow with no indication of a
transition to radial flow. Their conclusion is
that one can get visually appealing matches of
the build-up in a variety of ways, leading to an
unacceptably broad range in values for k, xf and pi. If
radial superposition time is used (i.e. a Horner plot)
and the last few points are used to perform an
extrapolation, initial pressure is always underestimated. This will also give the largest possible

value for permeability. It is the equivalent of


assuming that the well immediately goes into
radial flow at the end of the test. They also
conclude that if initial pressure is known from an
independent source, a correct interpretation of
reservoir properties is possible. Hategan and Hawkes
(2006) showed that permeability variation from
one plausible interpretation to another caused the
biggest difference in rate forecasts and hence reserves
estimates. This is extremely discouraging because
the value of any well test is greatly diminished if
meaningful forecasts cannot be generated.
3-12.5 Example 3-2, Low-Permeability Well,
Infinite-Conductivity Fracture
The goal of this example is to re-examine the Garcia
et al. (2006) conclusions with a comparable problem:
a well with the reservoir properties as shown in Table
3-3 and flow rate history shown in Table 3-4.
Table 3-3 Well Initial Properties for Example 3-2
Initial Pressure, pi, psia
Pay Thickness, ft
Porosity, %
Water Saturation, %
Permeability (k), md
Propped Fracture Half-Length (xf), ft
CfD
rw, ft
xf k0.5, ft-md0.5
CD

3000
30
10
25
0.03
150
>30
0.3
25.98
5000

Table 3-4 Rate Schedule for Example 3-2


Duration,
hours

Gas Rate,
MMscf/d

120

0.5

0.5

24

Commentary
Cleanup post fracture
treatment
Run gauges into well
Resume flow for a period 3
the length of the interruption.
This is an application of S.C.
Swifts three times rule as
described by Brown and
Hawkes (2005)
Build-up

The well properties and rate schedule are typical of a


Western Canada low-permeability, post-stimulation gas
well test. Forward simulation is performed to calculate
BHP as a function of time (Fig. 3-22).

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation


3000

3000
Pressure
Gas Rate

2500

2800

2000

2700

1500

2600

1000

2500

500

2400

20

40

60

80

100

120

q, Mscf/d

p, psi

2900

0
160

140

t, hrs

Figure 3-22 For Example 3-2, synthetic pressure


response for low-permeability fractured well with infiniteconductivity fracture

A conventional PTA is then performed,


treating the model calculated BHPs as observed
data to be matched. The reservoir properties to be
determined are k, xf and pi.
The last flow periods final BHP was used as an
anchor point for the analysis. Radial superposition and
the log-log derivative plot for the build-up are shown in
Figs. 3-23 and 3-24, respectively.

Table 3-5 Fracture half-length, xf ,matrix for Infinite


Conductivity Fracture from Example 3-2 with
Acceptable Build-up Solutions Highlighted

630
m(p)* gives p* = 2832 psi

610

xf k0.5, ft-md0.5

590

m(p)

k, md

k = 0.175 md

570

24

25

26

27

27.74

28

29

550

0.001

758.9 790.6 822.2 853.8 877.2 885.4 917.1

530

0.005

339.4 353.6 367.7 381.8 392.3 396.0 410.1

510

0.010

240.0 250.0 260.0 270.0 277.4 280.0 290.0

0.020

169.7 176.8 183.8 190.9 196.2 198.0 205.1

0.030

138.6 144.3 150.1 155.9 160.2 161.7 167.4

0.040

120.0 125.0 130.0 135.0 138.7 140.0 145.0

0.050

107.3 111.8 116.3 120.7 124.1 125.2 129.7

0.060

98.0

102.1 106.1 110.2 113.2 114.3 118.4

0.070

90.7

94.5

98.3

102.1 104.8 105.8 109.6

0.080

84.9

88.4

91.9

95.5

98.1

99.0

102.5

0.090

80.0

83.3

86.7

90.0

92.5

93.3

96.7

0.100

75.9

79.1

82.2

85.4

87.7

88.5

91.7

0.110

72.4

75.4

78.4

81.4

83.6

84.4

87.4

0.120

69.3

72.2

75.1

77.9

80.1

80.8

83.7

0.130

66.6

69.3

72.1

74.9

76.9

77.7

80.4

0.140

64.1

66.8

69.5

72.2

74.1

74.8

77.5

0.150

62.0

64.5

67.1

69.7

71.6

72.3

74.9

0.160

60.0

62.5

65.0

67.5

69.4

70.0

72.5

0.170

58.2

60.6

63.1

65.5

67.3

67.9

70.3

0.175

57.4

59.8

62.2

64.5

66.3

66.9

69.3

490
470
100

101

102

103
104
Horner Time

105

106

Figure 3-23 For Example 3-2, the Horner build-up plot


100

%m(p) and %m(p)a

Preliminary values of initial pressure and


permeability are calculated from the superposition
plot, assuming radial flow occurs over the last few
points. This results in pi = 2832 psi and k = 0.175 md.
This permeability is the maximum value possible. The
fracture length is determined from slope analysis
on the log-log derivative plot, where the constraint
equation (xf k0.5= 27.74) applies. The initial estimated
fracture length is 66.3 ft, using k = 0.175 md. This is a
lower bound on the possible fracture length.
A typical analysis would proceed in the following
manner. A forward simulation based on the estimated
reservoir properties would be made. The analyst
would then refine the match by simultaneously
regressing with k and xf. Pressure points to be used
in the regression analysis would be from the final
build-up. This process would make the modeled final
build-up look visually perfect on the superposition
and log-log derivative plots. As will be shown, this
leads to an almost random set of reservoir properties
being presented as a match.

10

mrf = 0
mlf =
xfk0.5 = 27.74 ft-md0.5

k = 0.175 md
Direction of
Decreasing
Permeability

0.1

0.01
0.001

%m(p)
%m(p)a
0.01

0.1

1
%ta

10

100

Figure 3-24 For Example 3-2, the log-log build-up


derivative plot

1000

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Modern Fracturing

An alternative technique called the matrix method


is proposed. The technique requires a matrix, shown
in Table 3-5. Columns are acceptable ranges in values
for the parameter xf k0.5. Rows are possible permeability
values. The entries in the matrix are xf calculated from
the constraint equation xf k0.5 = value. The low-end
permeability has a natural lower bound. This is based
upon a maximum possible value for xf, based on modeling
the treatment with a fracture simulator. After the matrix
is filled in, forward simulation is then performed on these
permeability and fracture half-length values.
Values colored in grey represent solutions where
the build-up match on the superposition and log-log
derivative plots is acceptable. All other solutions are
rejected. What is the consequence on productivity from
this acceptable family of solutions? Using a combination
of Eqs. 3-12, 3-14, 3-17a, 3-17b and 3-20 for the case
where both the permeability and skin vary:

f (C fD1 ) x f 1
8 ln

rw
J 2 k2
,
J ratio =
=
f (C fD 2 ) x f 2
J1 k1
8 ln

rw

(3-32a)

and

0.5 x f 1
8 ln

r
J 2 k2
w

J ratio =
=
,
0.5 x f 2
J1 k1

8 ln

r
w

J and, in particular, k can be correlated to ultimate


gas recovery. The figure shows that permeability
dominates the productivity index. The corresponding
change in fracture half-length required to match the
build-up pressure does not change the productivity
nearly as much. Even knowing the initial pressure may
not be enough for a unique solution because at low
permeability values, the calculated average reservoir
pressure is insensitive to permeability. For intermediate
permeability, knowing the initial reservoir pressure
reduces uncertainty in permeability determination.
Without any knowledge of initial pressure, no amount
of nonlinear regression and related visual perfection
on the build-up match can sort out this uniqueness
problem. Any forecasts that have such a wide range of
uncertainty are effectively useless.
To make further progress, one must look at the
drawdown data. The drawdown character is significantly
different for each of these cases (Fig. 3-26). Increasing
permeability causes the calculated pressures to move
to the left and down, and causes pi to drop. The only
acceptable match is the input case. Mathematically it
appears that when radial flow is not achieved, the buildup can solve for at most two of the three unknowns. The
drawdown allows the solution of the third unknown.
3200

(3-32b)

3000
p, psi

2900

for both CfD1, CfD2 30,

2800

Direction of Increasing
Permeability

2700

J ratio
pi

3000
2950

0.01

0.02

0.03

0.04 0.05
k, md

0.06

0.07

2900
0.08

Figure 3-25 For Example 3-2, Jratio and pi that come


from each match of the matrix method for the infinite
conductivity case

2500
0

20

40

60

80

100

120

t, hrs

3100
3050

2600

2400

3150

Figure 3-26 For Example 3-2, pressure drawdown


response profiles
pi , psi

Jratio

where Jratio is the productivity index ratio and the


subscripts 1 and 2 refer to different interpretations.
1.0
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.0
0.00

Input Case
k=0.001
k=0.005
k=0.01
k=0.02
k=0.04
k=0.05
k=0.06
k=0.07

Variation in Calculated Initial


Pressure

3100

For real problems, it is important to put in as detailed


a rate profile in the drawdown portion of the test as is
reflected in the data set. The corresponding observed
BHP will be noisy, so the matching process should be
performed on a linear pressure versus linear time plot
in the drawdown portion. When the well test is run
after cleanup has been completed, reasonably unique

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

3-12.6 Example 3-3, Low-Permeability Well,


Finite-Conductivity Fracture
The procedure outlined in the previous section will be
re-examined for the case of a finite-conductivity fracture.
Solutions for a finite conductivity fracture have one
additional degree of freedom: fracture conductivity. Basic
reservoir properties for the well are given in Table 3-6.
The well was fracture stimulated with 132,000 lbs of
25/50-mesh pre-cured, resin-coated proppant. Total fluid
pumped was 1080 bbl of oil-based fracturing fluid, at 25
bpm. The maximum proppant concentration during the
job was 8.3 lbs/gal. After an initial clean-up period of
33 hours, fracture fluid recovery was close to 100%. The
well was then shut in for 16 hours. Pressure gauges were
then run in via wireline, and flow was resumed. A rate
decline was evident over the remaining 34 hours of the
drawdown. A 413-hour build-up followed.
Table 3-6 Well Properties for Example 3-3
26
8
30
0.3

4000

8000

3500

7000

3000

6000

2500

5000

2000

4000

1500

3000

1000

2000

500
0

Pressure
Gas Rate

50

1000

0
100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500
t, hrs

Figure 3-27 For Example 3-3, pressure and rate


history for low-permeability fractured well with finiteconductivity fracture

q, Mscf/d

p, psi

Pay Thickness, ft
Porosity, %
Water Saturation, %
rw, ft

The overall pressure and rate history is given in


Fig. 3-27. A log-log derivative diagnostic plot showing
bilinear flow, with either late time superposition effects
or boundaries at late time, is shown in Fig. 3-28.
1000

%m(p) and %m(p)a

matches are theoretically possible. For such a case, if


drawdown behavior cannot be matched regardless of
permeability and fracture half-length combination, this
may be an indicator that the proppant pack is behaving
differently under drawdown compared with build-up.
This could be an indicator of non-Darcy flow in the
fracture. If the well is not cleaned up before the test, the
match becomes more complicated.

Late Time Superposition


Effects or Boundary Effects.

100
mc = 1

mbf =
(kfw)k0.5 = 83.3 ft-md1.5

10

%m(p)
%m(p)a
1
0.001

0.01

0.1

10

100

1000

%ta

Figure 3-28 For Example 3-3, log-log derivative plot for


low-permeability fractured well with finite-conductivity
fracture

Some late time superposition effects or boundary


effects are evident. At no time is there any evidence
of radial flow. The constraint equation for bilinear
flow is (kf w)k0.5 = 86.9 ft-md1.5, as evident from Fig.
3-28. This constraint equation is the square of the
fundamental term (kf w)0.5k0.25 in Eq. 3-23c and has
more convenient units.
The well properties to be determined are k, xf, kf w
and pi. These values will be determined by an extension
of the matrix method to finite conductivity wells:
1. Assume radial flow occurs at the very end
of the test.
2. Use the radial superposition plot to determine k,
m(p)* and then pi. This results in k = 0.196 md
and pi = 3591 psi.
3. Build a matrix of plausible solutions based upon
the value (or plausible range of values) for (kf
w)k0.5 as shown in Table 3-7. The rows of the
matrix will be the possible permeability values,
k, and the columns the corresponding values for
fracture conductivity, kf w.
4. Use non-linear regression in conjunction with
forward simulation to adjust xf and the fracture
face skin for each element in the matrix, to get
the best possible match of the build-up. The last
flow periods final BHP was used as an anchor

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Modern Fracturing

point for the analysis. This analysis showed


that the late time effects shown in Figure 328 were superposition related and not as a
result of a boundary.
5. Highlighted in grey (Table 3-7) are acceptable
matching cases of the matrix for the build-up.
Table 3-7 Fracture Permeability width, kfw, matrix
for Finite Conductivity Fracture for Example 3-3 with
Acceptable Build-up Solutions Highlighted
(kf w)k0.5 ft-md1.5
k, md

75.5

78.7

82.0

85.3

88.6

91.9

95.1

0.040

377.3 393.7 410.1 426.5 442.9 459.3 475.7

0.060

308.1 321.5 334.8 348.2 361.6 375.0 388.4

0.080

266.8 278.4 290.0 301.6 313.2 324.8 336.4

0.100

238.6 249.0 259.4 269.7 280.1 290.5 300.9

0.120

217.8 227.3 236.8 246.2 255.7 265.2 274.7

0.140

201.7 210.4 219.2 228.0 236.7 245.5 254.3

0.160

188.6 196.9 205.1 213.3 221.5 229.7 237.9

0.170

183.0 191.0 198.9 206.9 214.8 222.8 230.8

Table 3-8 and Fig. 3-29 summarize the build-up


match results with the appropriately determined
reservoir properties. Plotting these solutions for the
drawdown would result in a very similar character
to the corresponding infinite-conductivity example
shown in Fig. 3-26. Knowledge of pi from an
independent source would help the matching process,
except at the lowest permeability range. At the lower
values of permeability the required fracture length
appears to be becoming unreasonably long, based
upon preconceived ideas about maximum attainable
fracture half-lengths. Figure 3-30 shows the best
drawdown match, with k = 0.16 md. As in the infiniteconductivity case, increasing permeability causes the
calculated drawdown pressures to move to the left and
down in Fig. 3-30 and causes pi to drop.
3100
2900
Match (k=0.16 md)
Obs Pressure

2700

k,
md
0.040
0.060
0.080
0.100
0.120
0.140
0.160
0.170

Jratio
0.4417
0.5360
0.6268
0.7140
0.8041
0.8735
0.9605
1.0000

kf w,
md-ft
426.5
348.2
301.6
269.7
246.2
228.0
213.3
206.9

xf ,
ft
567.9
439.3
367.1
321.3
294.3
259.1
247.7
241.1

CfD
18.78
13.21
10.27
8.40
6.97
6.29
5.38
5.05

p i,
psi
3704
3701
3702
3650
3624
3614
3594
3588

Jratio
pi

3760
3740
3720

0.8

3700
3680

0.7

3660
0.6

3640
3620

0.5

pi, psi

Jratio

2300
2100
1900
1700
1500
45

55

60

65
70
t, hrs

75

80

85

90

Figure 3-30 Drawdown match for Example 3-3

3-13 Non-Darcy Flow


Section 2-3.1 gives the necessary background
material on the Forchheimer (1914) equation, which
is the porous media analog of the fluid mechanics
transition from laminar to turbulent flow. The
modern formulation of this law applied to the field
of reservoir engineering was given in Section 25.2 for flow in a fracture. However it is equally
applicable for radial flow:

3600
0.4
0.02

50

3780

1.0
0.9

Fracture
Face Skin
0.009
0.010
0.013
0.018
0.022
0.024
0.030
0.034

p, psi

2500

Table 3-8 Build-Up Match Results for Example 3-3

0.04

0.06

0.08

0.10 0.12
k, md

0.14

0.16

3580
0.18

Figure 3-29 For example 3-3, Jratio and pi that come


from each match of the matrix method for the finiteconductivity case

ke = k =

k
,
1 + N Re

(3-33)

where
N Re =

k
,

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation


s = s + Dq.

(3-35)

in Eq. 3-33 is set to 1.0, and the term s (the ratedependent skin) then replaces s in all the skin-related
equations in Chapters 2 and 3. The term D, which
is usually derived from PTA, can be related back to
as given in Dake (1978).
Originally it was felt that non-Darcy effects were
only important in high-rate gas wells, which were rarely
stimulated. For such wells one typically performs a
multi-rate test, such as a modified isochronal test.
The goal of the test is to determine s during each
drawdown period and plot it as a function of rate. The
application of Eq. 3-35 will allow the effective skin to
be split into its two components. The pressure signature
for a multi-rate test on a high-permeability well will
tend to have a stair-step profile with little additional
pressure drop occurring during a given flow period. s is
very easy to determine for such a test.
Further progress in the interpretation of non-Darcy
effects has been made by modeling well tests with
reservoir simulators. Reservoir simulation, by its nature,
is not restricted to solving linear problems. Settari et al.
(1990 and 2000) formulated and solved models where
the term in Eq. 3-33 was directly included in the
flow equations. The historical problem associated with
simulating a well test has involved errors associated
with gridding and calculating the productivity index.
Puchyr (1991) and Settari et al. (1990) have developed

automated techniques so that accurate solutions are


possible for both radial and non-Darcy hydraulic
fracture flow. This allows rigorous solutions to nonDarcy problems and eliminates the need for the small
local region assumption. Using such models, Warren
(1993) showed that non-Darcy effects exhibit a unique
signature for radial flow during build-ups: Wells have
a high apparent positive skin, which rapidly dissipates,
leading to a sharp drop in the derivative, which is
controlled by after-flow effects resulting from the link
between wellbore storage and skin. Spivey et al. (2004)
extended this concept and developed radial flow type
curve solutions shown in Fig. 3-31. One consequence of
their work is that non-Darcy flow can now be analyzed
for single-rate flow and build-up tests.
104

pwD or tD(dpwD / dtD)

where ke is the effective permeability, is the nonDarcy correction factor to permeability, is the nonDarcy coefficient, v is the Darcy velocity and NRe is the
Reynolds number. It is apparent that a nonlinearity
has been introduced because the velocity is dependent
upon the variables that are being solved for. All the
nonlinearities are combined into the term.
Because non-Darcy effects are severe, it is not
readily apparent how to solve Eq. 2-6 where ke replace
k. For radial flow it can be shown that although the
non-Darcy effects are severe, the zone of influence
is small. Consequently, the nonlinearity in the
permeability term was dropped and the non-Darcy
pressure drop was included as an instantaneous effect
related to velocity and included in the skin term. An
effective skin is then defined as:

CDe2s= 101000

103

CDe2s= 10250
CDe2s= 1050

102

CDe2s= 1015

101

CDe2s= 10500
CDe2s= 10125
CDe2s= 1030
CDe2s= 106

100
10-1
100

101

102

103

104

105

106

107

tD/CD

Figure 3-31 Build-up curves for high-permeability well


with non-Darcy skin (from Spivey et al., 2004)

For hydraulically fractured wells, flow is


predominantly in the fracture, and non-Darcy effects
occur down the entire fracture length. Guppy et al.
(1982) provided the first technique for incorporating
classical PTA based methods to analyze well tests.
Similarly Economides et al. (2002a and 2002b) have
extended the theory of Unified Fracture Design in
a similar manner. On a related topic, Settari et al.
(2002) quantified the effect of proppant factor
on well productivity index. Correlations were
developed relating this to various reservoir and
fracture properties. Miskimins et al. (2005) also
quantified the effects of non-Darcy fracture flow on
long-term production performance.
It has also become apparent that non-Darcy flow
can occur over a much broader range of cases than
just high-rate gas wells. It has been observed in high-

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Modern Fracturing

rate oil wells and, more importantly in the context


of this book, in low-permeability hydraulically
fractured gas wells. Barree et al. (2005) studied such
a case. The usual problem when conducting a PTA
is that fracture lengths appear to be significantly
shorter than designed. Barree et al. (2005) examined
lower-permeability gas wells where PTA indicated
longer fracture lengths than could be justified by
production analysis. These wells had estimated
permeability between 0.1 and 1 md and fracture
lengths of 300+ ft. Production analysis indicated
lengths of less than 30 ft. The length discrepancies
could not be attributed to the finite-conductivity
nature of the PTA lengths alone. Using an iterative
production history-matching program, Barree et al.
(2003) incorporated a variety of laboratory-measured
damage mechanisms on proppant pack conductivity.
They concluded that non-Darcy effects dominate the
production response. When the well is shut in, the
non-Darcy effects quickly dissipate. PTA properties
based on the build-up, therefore, over-estimate the
actual production response of the well.
3-13.1 Example 3-4, Non-Darcy, High-Permeability
Well, Finite-Conductivity Fracture
In this example it will be assumed that reservoir
properties are known, as shown in Table 3-9.

Table 3-10 UFD Design for Example 3-4


Property

Value

Type

k, md

Input

Fracture Height (hf), ft

60

Input

Proppant Porosity (p), %

32

Input

kf , md

100,000

Input

Proppant Number (Nprop)

0.036

Calculated

CfD,opt

1.6

Calculated

Optimal xf , ft

197

Calculated

Optimal w,in.

0.19

Calculated

At this point, non-Darcy effects have been


ignored. The treatment is assumed to be pumped and
placed as per the design. Subsequently a flow and
build-up test is done on the well with the flow rate
history given in Table 3-11.
Table 3-11 PTA Flow Rate History for Example 3-4
Gas Rate, Flow Period 1, MMscf/d

Duration, Flow Period 1, days

Gas Rate, Flow Period 2, MMscf/d

Duration, Flow Period 2, days

If everything went according to plan, the derivative


plot of the build-up would look like Fig. 3-32: The well
comes out of wellbore storage, has a short period of
bilinear flow, and finally goes into radial flow.
108
%m(p)- Darcy Case, kf=100,000 md
%m(p) - Non-Darcy Case, kf=100,000 md
%m(p) - Non-Darcy Case, kf=250,000 md

Reservoir Temperature, F

120

Gas Specific Gravity

0.65

Pay Thickness, ft

30

Porosity, %

10

Water Saturation, %

20

pi, psi

3000

rw , ft
Drainage Area, miles

%m(p)

Table 3-9 Well Properties for Example 3-4

107
mbf =

0.25
2

Wellbore Storage Coefficient, rb/psi

0.25
106
0.01

For a pre-determined, fixed amount of proppant


to be pumped and a known reservoir permeability, k,
one can determine an optimum stimulation design by
applying the UFD design approach given in Section
4-5. This results in the fracture treatment design
parameters set out in Table 3-10.

0.10

1.00
%ta

10.00

100.00

Figure 3-32 For example 3-4, derivative plots comparing


Darcy and non-Darcy flow in a high-permeability
fractured well with finite-conductivity fracture

If non-Darcy flow is occurring, then the effective


permeability of the proppant can be significantly
reduced. Assuming that the factor is given by Eq. 2-

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

3-13.2 Example 3-5, Non-Darcy, Low-Permeability


Well, Finite-Conductivity Fracture
As in the previous example, all the reservoir properties
will be assumed to be known and identical to the
high-permeability properties in Table 3-9, but with
reservoir permeability of k = 0.1 md instead of 5 md.
Following through on the UFD design approach given
in Section 2-5.1, xf = 1313 ft and w = 0.051 in. for
the kf = 100,000-md proppant. This width is felt to be
unreasonably small; a more realistic minimum width is

0.1 in., corresponding to a revised fracture length of 673


ft. Fracture design parameters can now be calculated
and are given in Table 3-12.
Table 3-12 UFD Design for Example 3-5
Property

Value

Type

k, md

0.1

Input

Fracture Height (hf), ft

60

Input

Proppant Porosity (p), %

32

Input

kf , md

100,000

Input

Proppant Number (Nprop)

3.22

Calculated

CfD,opt

12.4

Calculated

Optimal xf , ft

673

Calculated

Optimal w,in.

0.1

Input

At this point non-Darcy effects have been ignored.


The treatment is then assumed to be pumped and
placed as per the design. Subsequently a flow and
build-up test is done on the well with the flow rate
history given in Table 3-13, which is at a slightly
lower rate than the previous example.
Table 3-13 PTA Flow Rate History for Example 3-5
Gas Rate, Flow Period 1, MMscf/d

Duration, Flow Period 1, days

Gas Rate, Flow Period 2, MMscf/d

Duration, Flow Period 2, days

The derivative plot of the build-up portion of the


test would look like Fig. 3-33. The well comes out of
wellbore storage into a transition period and then goes
into linear flow. No radial flow is evident.
109
Fracture
Response
False Radial Delayed
Flow
108
%m(p)

38, one finds that = 6.72 104 ft-1. Substituting this


into the reservoir simulation model of the well test, one
finds that 0.21 in the fracture just before shut-in.
In the simulation model, actually varies in both space
and time in the fracture, and the value given represents
an average at the selected time. corresponds to the
reduction factor for permeability of the proppant pack
at these flowing conditions. At higher rates, the value
for would be much lower. Now instead of a designed
CfD = 1.6, a value of CfD = 0.34 has been achieved. The
derivative plot for this case is also shown in Fig. 3-32.
The fracture is not evident at all in this build-up. The
plot looks very similar to a standard radial model with
a positive skin. Radial flow is achieved at an earlier
point in time than in the Darcy-flow fractured case.
A steep fall-off in the derivative plot is not evident,
as occurs in the pure radial non-Darcy case of Warren
(1993). This indicates that the high-velocity region is
not as concentrated near the well as in the radial case.
There is therefore no clear diagnostic of non-Darcy
flow from the build-up data alone.
To perform a proper UFD design with non-Darcy
flow, Economides et al. (2002b) have shown that the
designed xf must be decreased and the designed w
increased. In this example, the 100,000-md proppant
(assumed to be Ottawa sand) is replaced with
intermediate-strength proppant (ISP) with permeability
of 250,000 md. Increasing the permeability also reduces
the factor via Eq. 2-38. The new value is = 1.64 104
ft-1. All other properties remain the same. Re-running
the well test through the reservoir simulator results in a
pressure response very similar to the 100,000-md Darcy
flow case, as is seen in Fig. 3-32 with a corresponding
0.29 in the fracture just before shut-in.

mlf =
107
%m(p)- Darcy Case, kf = 100,000 md
%m(p) - Non-Darcy Case, kf = 100,000 md
106
0.01

0.1

10

100

1000

%ta

Figure 3-33 For example 3-5, a derivative plot comparing


Darcy and non-Darcy flow in a low-permeability fractured
well with high-conductivity fracture

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Modern Fracturing

If non-Darcy flow is occurring then = 6.72


104 ft-1 based upon Eq. 2-38. Substituting this into the
reservoir simulation model of the well test, one finds
that 0.16 in the fracture just before shut-in. Now,
instead of a designed CfD = 12.4, a value of CfD = 1.98
occurs. The derivative plot for this case is also shown in
Fig. 3-33. After coming out of wellbore storage, there
is a long period of apparent radial flow, followed by a
transition into linear flow. The interpretation of a real
test exhibiting this behavior would lead the analyst to
assume the fracture was not there and that radial flow
had been achieved. This would result in a significant
over-estimation of permeability. Late time behavior
would be interpreted as boundary or composite
reservoir effect. From the authors experience, this false
radial flow is evident in other types of tests as well, as
will be shown in Section 3-16.3. Clearly non-Darcy
effects can lead to complications in PTA interpretation
of hydraulically fractured wells.

3-14 Production Analysis


Production analysis (or PA) has a tradition dating
back even further than PTA and involves forecasting
future performance. The equations and mathematics
are identical to PTA; only the boundary conditions
at the well are different. Classical PA assumes a well
is producing at a constant pwf, with the rate declining
with time. This restriction has now been removed,
and modern PA allows very general well behavior
to be analyzed. One underlying assumption is that
rate changes are smooth and not too rapid, so that
full rate superposition can be replaced with simpler
techniques. One difference between PA and PTA is
in the nature and quality of the data. A PTA can be
viewed as a controlled experiment with the rate and
BHP data being precisely known. PA involves taking
field data as-is and doing the best analysis possible.
Field data, by its nature, is extremely noisy, and the
pressure data is typically much less precise.
The most commonly used forecasting technique
uses Arps (1945 and 1956) decline curves. These are
illustrated in Fig. 3-34.
By implication, these curves apply to wells
with constant pwf. Arps unified earlier decline curve
methodology into three related models: exponential

decline (previously called constant percentage decline),


hyperbolic decline and harmonic decline. The unification
parameter is called b, and it ranges from 0 (exponential
decline) to 1 (harmonic decline). Intermediate values
of b represent hyperbolic decline. These models form
the basis for reserves calculations to this day. They are
entirely empirical in nature. The three most useful
curves are semi-log rate versus linear time, linear rate
versus linear cumulative, and semi-log rate versus linear
cumulative. The first two of these curves plot as straight
lines for exponential decline, and the latter plots as a
straight line for harmonic decline.
From the late 1940s onward, rigorous solutions to
single-phase flow problems with different boundary
conditions were becoming available. For a slightly
compressible fluid with a constant permeability in
a radial bounded container producing at a constant
pwf, Raghavan (1993) has shown that the solution
is exponential decline at late time. Arguments have
been made that the hyperbolic and harmonic decline
models account for real world heterogeneities and
multiphase flow effects that are not accounted for
in simple analytical solutions (Laustsen, 1996; and
Ahmed and McKinney, 2005). Alternatively gas
compressibility effects associated with declining
pressure in gas wells cause decline behavior to become
more hyperbolic than exponential.
Using Arps decline models for production
forecasting implicitly assumes that bounded flow has
occurred. Transient radial solutions to the constant pwf
case have also been developed:
1
1
+ s = (ln t D + 0.80907).
qD
2

(3-36)

Fetkovich (1980) developed a type curve of rate


versus time that tied the transient radial solution
(Eq. 3-36) to the Arps boundary-dominated flow
solutions. This results in a type curve appropriate
for all times (Fig. 3-35).
A general type curve of rate versus time will be
referred to as a Fetkovich plot. Such a plot has a
number of distinguishing features. When a well is in
radial flow, the slope is much shallower than when
the well is in bounded flow. Highly damaged wells
(wells with high positive skins) have very shallow
slopes approaching zero. Wells with negative skins

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

show initially steeper slopes with a maximum value


of , which flattens out to approximately at
late transient time. With the transition to bounded
flow, the slope gets steeper. For harmonic flow, the
slope becomes unit slope. For exponential decline, the
slope eventually becomes infinite. Hyperbolic flow is
between these two extremes.
For an infinite-conductivity hydraulically
fractured well, the Fetkovich type curve was developed
by Locke and Sawyer (1975), and is shown in Fig 335. The production declines on a slope. This is an
indicator of formation linear flow analogous to the
slope of on the log-log derivative type curve being
an indicator of formation linear flow for a well test.
After a well begins radial flow, the slope becomes very
shallow, approximately . This figure also shows
that when bounded flow occurs, the type curve drops
off. By analogy, for a finite conductivity fracture one
would see an initial slope of .
Fetkovich et al. (1987) have shown that the Arps
decline curves cannot be applied to wells in transient
flow. The problem with traditional Arps curves is that
they contain no flow diagnostic information within
them; they result in only a forecast. Because the onset
of bounded flow is clear from the Fetkovich plot,
Coordinate

Semilog

Log-Log

3040

Log Rate, q

2000
I
1000

II

3040

1000

I
III

Log Rate, q

3040
Rate, q

a necessary condition for doing Arps decline is to


first generate a Fetkovich plot of production data to
determine when bounded flow starts. Arps plots can
then be constructed, ignoring data in the transient
portion. In the past this process may not have been so
important because only high-permeability reservoirs
were developed. Bounded flow occurs quite quickly
for high-permeability reservoirs because the time to
boundary of a pressure wave is proportional to the
permeability (or, more correctly, the diffusivity of Eq.
3-7a). With the development of lower-permeability
gas reservoirs throughout the world, transient flow
can occur for many years before bounded flow
occurs. As a result, the assumption of bounded flow
needs to be verified. An attempt to fit a traditional
decline curve through transient data can lead to
hyperbolic coefficients greater than 1.0 (b > 1.0). This
has been termed super-harmonic decline and is not
justified (Fetkovich et al., 1987).
The Fetkovich plot is to production analysis what the
log-log derivative plot is to well test analysis. It gives flow
regime identification capabilities and can be extended
to variable rate conditions by normalizing the rate
(replacing q with q/(m(pi) m(pwf)) on the y axis). This
is sometimes called a rate-normalized Fetkovich plot.

II

100

II

1000

III
100

III
0

120

Time, t

Coordinate

Semilog

1000

II

Log Rate, q

10

120

100
Time, t

Log-Log

3040

2000

Time, t

3040

Rate, q

120

3040
I

1000

Log Rate, q

II
III

100

1000

II
III

100

III
0

100,000
Cumulative

100,000
Cumulative

1000

10,000

100,000

Cumulative

Figure 3-34 Decline curve plots (from Arps, 1956) (I. Exponential Decline b = 0, II. Hyperbolic Decline 0 < b < 1,
III. Harmonic Decline b = 1)

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Modern Fracturing

For future discussions, no distinction will be made


between the two types of Fetkovich plots. Unlike
the log-log derivative plot it cannot be used directly
to calculate reservoir properties for gas wells. This is
a consequence of the change in gas compressibility
during late time, resulting in unacceptable errors.
Unfortunately, the Fetkovich plots shape is sensitive to
shut-ins and significant rate changes due to operational
issues. If these occur, it is recommend that one re-zero
the time axis at the beginning of the high-rate event. It
is imperative that before production forecasts are made for
any well, the target well and offset wells production data
be reviewed with a Fetkovich plot.
When using analytical solutions to the flow
equations at late time, as opposed to the Arps decline
curve model, one can theoretically determine all reservoir
properties from a type curve match. For gas wells, this
requires circumventing the assumption of constant
compressibility. Carter (1985) was the first to modify the
Fetkovich curves for such a case. Fraim and Wattenberger
(1987) extended this work. They showed that instead
of using time, one should use a new function called
normalized time. This is quite similar to the pseudo-time
definition given in Eq. 3-2, except the average pressure
is used in the integration. With this definition of time,
analytical solutions for the variable compressibility
case plot as exponential decline, on the Fetkovich plot.
The practical disadvantage of the technique is that the
average reservoir pressure has to be known or estimated

as a function of time to perform the normalized time


calculation. In practice this requires iteration on the
drainage volume. In transient flow, the average pressure
does not change, and iteration is not required.
Palacio and Blasingame (1993) further generalized
the Fraim and Wattenbarger (1987) technique by
considering the variable-rate, variable-pwf case. They
showed that with a new definition of time called
material balance time, tm, in days, and given by:

(ct )i
q
tm =

0 dt ,
t

(3-37)

ct

then one can show


(m( pi ) m( pwf )

= bpss + ms tm ,

(3-38a)

where

(3-38b)

and
1000
Gi cti

ms =
,

(3-38c)

and where bpss and ms are the y intercept and


slope, respectively, on the material balance time
plot, Bgi is the initial gas formation volume factor
in rcf/scf, Gi is the original gas in place in scf, and
CA is the Dietz shape factor. As in the Fraim and

100
- Slope Region
Infinite Conductivity Fracture
10

re/rwa=10
Transient

re/rwa=30
1

Boundary Dominated

re/rwa=1000

qDd

Direction of Increasing Skin


0 < slope <= -
0.1

0.01

0.001
0.0001

b = 0.0
0.001

0.01

0.1

b = 0.5
10

b = 1.0
100

tDd

Figure 3-35 Fetkovich (1980) type curve including the transient radial solution with Arps (1956) decline curves

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

Wattenbarger (1987) technique, the drainage volume


(or alternatively Gi) needs to be first estimated and
then iterated to get a solution.
Reformulating Eq. 3-38a in a form consistent with
the Fetkovich variables produces:
1

qDd = 1 + t ,
mDd

(3-39a)

qbpss

qDd =

(m( pi ) m( pwf )

(3-39b)

and
ms tm
bpss

tmDd =

(3-39c)

where tmDd is the normalized material balance pseudotime and qDd is the normalized rate. Equation 3-39a is
the harmonic decline formula and will plot as a unit
slope on the Fetkovich plot at late times.
To improve interpretations, Palacio and Blasingame
(1993) used a derivative technique first described by
McCray (1990). New functions are defined as:
qDdi =

1
tm

tm

(m( p ) m( p )) dtm and

i
wf

1 d 1

qDdid = t dt t
m
m m

tm

(3-40a)

(m( p ) m( p )) dtm , (3-40b)

i
wf

where qDdi is the integrated normalized gas rate and


qDdid is the derivative of integrated normalized gas
rate. Plotting the new rate and time functions plus
the derivative function on a type curve produces the
Blasingame type curves shown in Fig. 3-36.

qDdi and qDdid

10-4
101

10-3

10-2

10-1

100

101

102

103
101

100

100

10-1

10-1

10-2

10-2

10-3
10-4

10-3

10-2

10-1

100

101

102

tmDd

Figure 3-36 Blasingame type curves for production


analysis (from Palacio and Blasingame, 1993)

10-3
103

The advantage of the derivative function as defined


by Eq. 3-40b is that it is considerably smoother than
more traditional derivative formulae. It therefore has
diagnostic capability even when data are scattered.
The transition from transient flow to bounded flow is
evident at much earlier times than from the Fetkovich
plot alone. The biggest difficulty with this technique is
that identifying the initial flow regime is not possible
with this plot, as the x- axis is a function of Gi, which
initially is not known. One is immediately involved in
history matching well performance by changing reservoir
properties to fit the data. Flow regime identification is
best performed with a Fetkovich plot.
A number of alternative approaches have been
developed for PA. One class of techniques is based
on the concept of a well having constant productivity
index when in bounded flow. Adjustments are made
to the original gas in place and the average pressure
is recalculated from material balance until a constant
productivity index is achieved at late time. If one
is not truly in bounded flow, these techniques will
underestimate Gi. West and Cochrane (1995), Agarwal
et al. (1999), and Mattar and Anderson (2003) give
variations of this idea and a number of different
straight-line plotting techniques. It is recommended
that this class of techniques be used in conjunction with
the Palacio and Blasingame (1993) technique, which is
better at determining the onset of bounded flow.
A third class of PA techniques concentrates on the
transient flow period. In transient flow, the average
pressure does not change. As a result there is no need
for either iteration on drainage area or for special time
functions. Reitman (1995) looked at wells in radial
transient flow producing at a constant pwf. Equation 336 describes the flow of such wells. A specialized plot of
1/q versus log t should be a straight line if radial flow is
occurring. In a direct analog to PTA, picking the proper
straight line may be difficult. As a result, a Fetkovich
plot should be done first to identify the flow regime. The
Fetkovich plot will quantify the time interval for which
radial flow is occurring. The slope of the 1/q versus log
t plot can be used to determine permeability. At the
end of radial flow, there is significant upward curvature
in the plot. Arevalo-Villagrain (2001) extended this
work to deal with the variable-rate, variable-pwf case.
The specialized plot then becomes (m(pi) m(pwf))/q

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Gi =

A =

163T ter

cpr and
(ct Bg )i m

Bgi Gi
h

%m(p)/q

(3-41a)

10,000

m = -
10

tel = 6630
Days

1,000

m=

%m(p)/q

(3-41b)

(3-41c)

cpr is the slope of the specialized plot and ter is


where m
the time to the end of radial flow. Gi can be determined
without knowledge of porosity, thickness, h, or drainage
area, A. The reason for this is that the transition from
linear flow to bounded flow is quite sharp. Table 31 shows that this occurs at a value of tDA = 0.1. The
definition of tDA has been given in Eq. 3-13 and involves
permeability, porosity and drainage area, among other
variables. Arevalo-Villagrain (2001) found that the
transition out of radial transient flow starts a little earlier,
at tDA = 0.065. Using tDA = 0.065 in the flow equation,
one can then derive the expression for Gi shown in Eq.
3-41b and eliminate the other variables.
This is a powerful technique for comparing
production results to volumetric estimates. If the end of
radial flow has not been observed, then the last available
time is used and Gi represents the currently contacted
gas in place. This would be expected to increase with
time until bounded flow occurs. Forecasting with
this technique is not possible after bounded flow has
been achieved. A general theory of forecasting for all
conditions will be given later in this section.
With the increase in efforts to produce gas reserves
from lower-permeability basins in North America, it is
becoming evident that many wells do not achieve radial
flow and instead exhibit long-term linear flow. From the
authors experience, long-term linear flow for tight gas
reservoirs is very common. Stright and Gordon (1983)
were some of the first to identify this behavior. Linear
flow can be identified by a slope on the Fetkovich
plot. Figure 3-37 is a reciprocal Fetkovich plot (mirrored
along the y axis) of a single-zone, hydraulically fractured
well from Arevalo-Villagran et al. (2006).

105
10

100

1,000
t, days

10,000

100
100,000

Figure 3-37 Reciprocal Fetkovich plot of a hydraulically


fractured well (from Arevalo-Villagran et al., 2006)

This well shows slope production decline for


6630 days (18.2 years). Hydraulic fracture treatments are
designed to have fracture half-lengths of at most 1500 ft.
Using the formula in Table 3-1 for the end of formation
linear flow, one would calculate unreasonably large
fracture lengths for any permeability range. What is going
on here? From a PTA viewpoint one normally sees fracture
lengths appearing to be much shorter than designed; this
initial production analysis shows the exact converse.
10,000

q, Mscf/d

1640T
k=
,

cpr h
m

107

q,Mscf/d

versus log tdays. By choosing a time to the end of radial


flow from the specialized plot, and the slope of the line
while in radial transient flow, one can determine the
permeability, the Gi and the drainage area from:

Gas Rate
1000

100

5000

10,000

15,000

20,000

t, days

Figure 3-38 Semi-log rate versus time production


analysis plot (Arevalo-Villagran et al., 2006)

The cause of long-term linear flow in this case


is either the presence of channels or, alternatively,
anisotropic permeability. Anisotropic permeability is
discussed in more detail as a case history in Section 316.3. Both reservoir descriptions result in identical
slope decline on the Fetkovich plot and can be shown
to be mathematically equivalent. Determining which
mechanism is appropriate requires geological input.
The transition from formation linear flow as a result
of the hydraulic fracture to channel linear flow can, in
practice, be near impossible to detect because the slopes
are the same. One then must rely on well test theory

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

equations (Table 3-1) to decide when formation linear


flow should end. A well having long-term linear flow
has more rapid production decline than a well in the
center of a square drainage area.
Fig. 3-38 is one of the main plots for traditional
Arps decline curves analysis, a semi-log rate versus linear
time plot. An attempt to fit a traditional decline curve
through all this data leads to hyperbolic coefficients
greater than 1.0, or so-called super harmonic decline. As
stated previously, it is not justified because the Fetkovich
plot (Fig. 3-37) shows the well is still in transient flow
up to 6630 days. Despite this, industry still tries to use
semi-log rate versus linear time plots for forecasting,
even when transient flow occurs. Fig. 3-38 shows that
after a long time a semi-log rate versus linear time plot
will appear to exhibit straight-line decline behavior. In
Canada this combination of an initially steep and finally
a straight-line decline on a semi-log rate versus time
plot is referred to as hockey stick decline. People in
the industry often talk of time to stabilization to this
constant decline rate. From that perspective, Fig. 3-38
shows that the well reaches stabilized decline at about
5000 days. This is close to the time associated with the
beginning of bounded flow, when Arps decline curves
are justified. Forecasting production profiles at earlier
times on this plot is impossible.
Neal and Mian (1989) developed a forecasting
technique for wells producing under long-term formation
linear flow at a constant pwf. Reservoir properties can
be directly related to the decline curve parameters. In
their case the key reservoir properties were permeability
and fracture half-length. Their technique involved a
specialized plot of 1/q versus t0.5. This should be a straight
line if linear flow is occurring. If the well is in formation
linear flow as a result of the hydraulic fracture, the slope
of the plot is proportional to 1/(xf k0.5). This is the same
grouping of variables as in infinite conductivity flow in
PTA, as seen in Eq. 3-19d in Section 3-6.
Wattenbarger et al. (1998) and Arevalo-Villagran
et al. (2006) have extended this solution to the
variable-pwf case and have looked at various special
cases to preserve the one-dimensional character of the
solution. One case they consider is a well located in
a long, narrow channel with an infinite conductivity
hydraulic fracture extending to the boundary in the
short direction (Fig. 3-39).

xf
Formation
Linear Flow

ye

xe

Figure 3-39 Fractured well in a long channel, (from


Arevalo-Villagran and Wattenbarger, 2001b)

Long-term linear flow results for all flow times until


boundary effects occur. A specialized plot of (m(pi)
m(pwf))/q versus tdays0.5, called the Neal-Wattenbarger plot,
will be a straight line if linear flow is occurring. Upward
curvature occurs in this plot after boundary effects begin.
A Fetkovich plot should first be plotted to ensure that the
linear flow regime is properly identified.
Arevalo-Villagran et al. (2006) have identified
a dimensionless time function when linear flow
ends. Picking the actual time to the end of linear
flow and determining the slope of the straight
line on the Neal-Wattenbarger plot allows one to
calculate reservoir properties:
0.5

315.43T

xe k =
,

cpl h
( ct )i0.5 m

(3-42a)
0.5

(3-42b)
,

ktel
ye = 0.1591
( ct )i

200.74T tel0.5 and

cpl
(ct Bg )i m

(3-42c)

A = 4 xe ye ,

(3-42d)

Gi =

cpl is the slope of the specialized plot, tel is the


where m
time to the end of linear flow, xe is the channel halflength in the short direction and ye is the channel halflength in the long direction. As in the radial case, Gi can
be determined without knowledge of porosity, thickness

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Modern Fracturing

or drainage area. Other reservoir properties are coupled.


Note that the coupling between permeability and channel
half-width is of the same form as the permeability and
the fracture half-length in PTA. If permeability, porosity
and thickness are known from independent data, the
complete channel geometry can be calculated. When the
production data from the hydraulically fractured well
from Arevalo-Villagran et al. (2006) already plotted in
Figs. 3-37 and 3-38 is plotted on a Neal-Wattenbarger
plot one gets Fig. 3-40. Gi can be calculated directly from
this plot from Eq. 3-42c.
16

8
7

14

tel= 6630 days (18.2 years)

12
10

Cum Gas

8
6

3
2
1
0

~
mcpl = 25 x 103

%m(p)/q
0

20

40

60

80

100

120

Cum Gas, Bcf

%m(p)/q x 106

2
0
140

t0.5, days0.5

Figure 3-40 Neal-Wattenbarger plot for a fractured well


in a long channel with long-term linear flow (from ArevaloVillagran et al., 2006)

As in the radial flow case, if the end of linear flow


has not been observed, then Gi is calculated using the last
available time. This result is the currently contacted gas in
place. For either the radial or linear transient case, forecasts
can be made assuming that this currently contacted gas
in place represents the actual Gi. This is equivalent to
stating that bounded flow begins immediately at the
end of the observed data. This forecast should have a
100% probability of occurring (P100 case) and could be
performed with simple material balance type models as
used by West and Cochrane (1995) because J is now
constant. Of course, economic limits and the possible
onset of liquid loading in the wellbore, among other
things, may constrain this forecast. Continuing the
transient case forever will represent the zero probability
case (P0 case). These two bounding cases are easily
constructed for a well still exhibiting transient flow. This
technique can also be used to forecast the increasing value
of the contacted Gi versus time. Offset wells production
may be used as a guideline for determining how long

transient flow occurs for typical wells, leading to a most


likely forecast. Stotts et al. (2007) have extended the
technique by considering infinite-conductivity fractured
wells in arbitrary locations within a rectangle.

3-15 Heterogeneity
Anyone who has looked at core or log data recognizes
that real reservoirs show a remarkable variation of
reservoir properties on a very fine vertical scale. Why
is layered heterogeneity not reflected in well tests?
The short answer is that by its nature the underlying
diffusivity equation, Eq. 2-4, acts like a huge low-pass
filter. Most high-frequency information vertical
variations in horizontal permeability included just
gets averaged out. As an example, if one generates
an infinite-acting two-layer reservoir model with all
properties being identical except permeability, and
fixes the average permeability of the system to be 0.1
md, even a 1000-fold contrast in permeability among
the layers will not affect the log-log derivative plot.
Complications occur when layers experience boundary
effects at different times during the test.
3-15.1 Dual Porosity
So what other kinds of heterogeneity are seen in well
tests? The dual-porosity model where there is a lowstorativity, high-diffusivity media connected to a highstorativity, low-diffusivity matrix shows a distinct
signature on the derivative plot (Fig. 3-9). This is a
consequence of the time delay in the lower-permeability
matrix contributing to the production response of
the system. Gringarten (1984) has shown that a highpermeability contrast, two-layered model is equivalent
to a dual-porosity model. Dual-porosity reservoirs are
extremely complicated, and the reader is referenced to
Aguilera (1995) for a thorough review of the topic.
3-15.2 Anisotropy
A type of heterogeneity that has been largely neglected
in the well test literature is permeability anisotropy. This
discussion will consider only permeability anisotropy
in the horizontal direction (i.e., kx ky). The neglect
is understandable in one sense because an isotropic

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

medium can always be mapped mathematically into an


equivalent homogenous medium by a process known
as conformal mapping. The problem is solved in the
homogenous space and then projected back onto the
original co-ordinates. Time is not involved in this
process. Anisotropic well test models will thus have a
functionally equivalent solution in homogeneous space.
By an application of Occams razor, why bother? Occams
razor basically says: do not unnecessarily complicate a
problem if a simple solution works just as well with the
available data. The answer is that additional information
not normally part of the usual PTA process may force
the analyst to complicate the problem. The additional
information in question is the long-term production
data normally collected long after the well test.
Earlier it was stated that channel linear flow and
anisotropic linear flow are mathematically identical.
Collins (1961) and Raghavan (1993) developed
the mapping functions from anisotropic space to
homogeneous space and vice versa:
0.5

k = (k x k y ) ,

0.5

0.25

k
ky
X new = X e = X e

k
k
x

0.5

(3-43b)

0.25

k
k
Ynew = Ye = Ye x
k y
k y
0.5

(3-43a)

and

(3-43c)

0.25

k
ky
x fnew = x f = x f

k x
k x

(3-43d)

where kx and ky are the x and y direction permeabilities,


Xe and Ye are the distances in the x and y direction from
the well to the boundary in anisotropic space. Xnew and
Ynew are the corresponding distances in homogeneous
space. xfnew is the equivalent fracture half-length in
homogeneous space. Equation 3-43d only applies
when the fracture is in the x direction and is of infinite
conductivity. Figure 3-41 illustrates the mapping
function for severe anisotropy associated with widely
spaced directional natural fractures, where kx >> ky.
The hydraulic fracture is shown parallel to the natural
fractures because, logically, they would be oriented in
the same direction due to the stress regime of the well.
For an infinite-acting system, the outer boundaries

(Xnew and Ynew) are not determinable. However the


fracture length is still affected by Eq. 3-43d. If all
PTA matching is performed in homogeneous space,
as is recommended, and then mapped backward into
anisotropic space, the fracture length will grow in
anisotropic space. This is essentially moving from the
right side of Fig. 3-41 to the left.

xe
Ynew
ye

Geometry for Equivalent


Isotropic Reservoir

xf
Actual Anisotropic Geometry

Xnew

Figure 3-41 Equivalent geometries of drainage and


fracture: isotropic case (right) and anisotropic case (left)
(from Arevalo-Villagran et al., 2006)

The long fracture in anisotropic space may


represent the actual treatment pumped; the short
fracture in homogeneous space represents the PTA
interpreted length. This is one mechanism whereby
PTA-derived fracture lengths could appear shorter
than actual treatment lengths. This will also have an
effect on the associated production forecast, so this
action needs to be justified.

3-16 Multiphase Flow


Multiphase flow effects as they pertain to PTA have
their origin in the work of Perrine (1956). The essence
of the technique is that it determines the total mobility
of the system as opposed to a single-phase permeability.
Perrines (1956) technique relies on the relative mobility
of the fluids not changing significantly with time.
This approach is of limited use because the
two multi-phase problems of most interest are gas
condensates and the cleanup of fracture treatment
fluids immediately after the treatment. They both
can show significant changes in mobility over
relatively short periods of time.

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Modern Fracturing

Gas condensates have been briefly described in Chapter


2. As pressure drops below the dew point, hydrocarbon
liquid drops-out. By its nature, this will occur around
the producing wells, where the drawdown is largest.
Relative permeability effects restrict the gas mobility
around the well. As a result there is a significant loss in
well productivity. This can be severe and is especially
prominent in wells producing in radial flow. The most
successful means of combating this productivity loss
is hydraulic fracturing. One consequence is that the
pressure drop is dispersed more uniformly away from
the well. Hydraulic fracturing does not remove the
problem; it just makes the best of a bad situation. For
a stimulated or unstimulated well, GOR is typically
almost constant, or slowly increasing with time.
After a gas condensate well begins production
below the dew point, three distinct flow
regimes quickly occur, as described by Fevang
and Whitson (1996):
1. The inner region is nearest the well and has
both mobile gas and oil (oil and condensate
are the same fluid). Oil saturation is above
residual oil saturation.
2. The intermediate region has the oil phase present,
but only gas is mobile. The oil saturation is
therefore below residual oil saturation.
3. The outer region has only gas present (single
phase), with solution condensate.
These regions are dynamic in that they change
shape with time. The problem to be solved from a PTA
perspective is a flow-induced composite permeability
system with moving boundaries.
PTA techniques that use extended analytical
solutions ignore the moving boundary. For radial
flow, Raghavan et al. (1999) compared a number of
traditional approaches to more detailed numerical
simulation cases to get a feel for what was going on.
The first attempt to perform PTA with numerical
reservoir simulators for hydraulically fractured
wells was done by Yadavalli and Jones (1996). The
effect on the derivative curve for a well in which a
significant bank has formed was dramatic (as will be
shown in more detail later).

Bachman et al. (2006) were involved in a study


of Saudi Arabian gas condensate wells that had been
successfully acid fracture stimulated. The wells had
PTA tests immediately after stimulation and cleanup,
prior to the BHP dropping below the dew point.
They consistently showed good infinite-conductivity
fracture behavior. Long-term production data
showed a significant loss in productivity. After about
one year of production, additional flow and buildup tests were performed. The goal of the study was
to determine the reason for the loss of productivity.
Possible damage mechanisms included liquid
dropout effects, collapse of the stress-sensitive acid
fracture or stress-dependent reservoir permeability.
Comparisons were made of the first and subsequent
PTAs. The reservoir simulation models pressure
response is shown in Fig. 3-42.
1010

%m(p) and %m(p)a

3-16.1 Gas Condensates

109

108
%m(p) - Initial build-up
%m(p)a - Initial build-up
%m(p) - Second build-up
%m(p)a - Second build-up

107

106
0.0001 0.001

0.01

0.1

10

100

1000 10000

%ta

Figure 3-42 Derivative response of fractured gas


condensate well before and after liquid drop-out (from
Bachman et al., 2006)

The humping behavior is identical to what


Yadavalli and Jones (1996) identified as a type 2
condensate response. A simple procedure was then found
to convert the long-term pressure match to relative
skin changes associated with the identified damage
mechanisms. The vast majority of the skin increase
resulted from condensate liquid dropout.
Gringarten et al. (2006) give a comprehensive review
of the complex issues associated with gas condensate
PTA and present numerous field cases. Bozorgzadeh
and Gringarten (2007) give further examples related to
PTA. Mohan et al. (2006) have considered non-Darcy
flow, in addition to other effects. The whole field is
complex and is an active area of research.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

3-16.2 Fracture Fluid Cleanup

Table 3-14 Well Initial Properties for Example 3-6

Items 3 through 6 are directly related to


multiphase flow (if a solid can be considered a phase).
The proppant pack relative permeability curves shown
by Barree et al. (2003) have been used by Sullivan et
al. (2006) in sensitivity work to see how they would
affect various modeled PTA cases.
3-16.3 Example 3-6, Fracture Fluid Cleanup Case
In the Deep Basin area of Western Canada an
operator wanted to assess the effectiveness of past
hydraulic fracture treatments. As is the norm for
this field, a standard well test was performed with
gauges in the hole after the fracture treatment.
The wells were still cleaning up at this point. The
wells were all single-zone completions. Table 3-14
shows the reservoir properties.

2960

Pay Thickness, ft

26

Porosity, %

10

Water Saturation, %

25

Estimated Permeability Range, md

0.1 to 0.3

Breakdown Pressure, psi

4325

Pumped Fracture Half-Length, ft

700

(Best Estimate from Treatment Model)


Total Treatment Fluid, bbl

2420

Fluid Recovered to First PTA, bbl

1040

Fluid Recovered to First PTA, %

43

Proppant Type

ISP

Proppant, lbs

225,0000

Max Concentration, lbs/gal

7.5

There are extensive shales around the producing zone,


and fracture height containment was not an issue (see
Section 4-3.3.3).
1011

%m(p) and %m(p)a

In North America, wells are usually hydraulically


fractured immediately after drilling. Cleanup and well
testing tend to be lumped together while tie-in of the
pipeline is occurring. This is logistically an ideal time
to do a test because production is not lost. From a test
interpretation viewpoint, however, this is hardly ideal
because the effects of fracture fluid cleanup are readily
apparent during early flow periods. However, this must
be dealt with as well as is possible.
In the authors experience, fluid cleanup effects
on test interpretation are often profound. Fracture
lengths often appear to be much shorter than what
has been designed. This inevitably leads to questions
about where did the fracture go? Barree et al. (2003)
looked at a number of factors associated with
conductivity and length, including:
1. Non-Darcy effects (see Section 3-13)
2. Packing of the proppant in the fracture
3. Embedment and spalling in soft formations
4. Filter cake and gel residual migration into the
proppant pack
5. Gel yield effects from the concentration of gel
residue at the fracture tip, reducing its effective
producing length
6. Multiphase flow of stimulation and formation
fluids in the proppant pack

pi, psia

1010

Superpostion Effects or
Boundary Effects?

mlf =
xf = 52.5 ft

mrf = 0

109
%m(p) - Observed
%m(p)a- Observed
108
0.01

0.10

1.00

10.00

100.00

1000.00

%ta

Figure 3-43 For Example 3-6, log-log derivative plot for


first build-up

The initial PTA interpretation (Fig. 3-43), done


shortly after the treatment was completed, looks like
a textbook example of a short, infinite-conductivity
fracture proceeding into radial flow. The fracture
half-length was interpreted to be 52.5 ft. Production
forecasts were generated assuming the well drained
a square drainage area, following standard industry
practice. Because the drainage area is unknown, a
number of what ifs based on reasonably estimated
drainage areas were made.
When the well was put on production, the forecast
almost immediately dropped below expectations, even
for pessimistic drainage areas. Fig. 3-44 shows actual
long-term production data.

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Modern Fracturing

1. The fracture treatment (injection period)


2. All the cleanup flow periods before the first PTA
3. The first PTA
4. The long-term production data
5. The second PTA

10,000

q, Mscf/d

mlf = -

1,000

100

10

100

t, days

1000

Figure 3-44 For Example 3-6, Fetkovich plot for longterm production data

What is evident is that linear flow is occurring for


a long time. Calculations as to when formation linear
flow should end (Table 3-1) indicate that it should be
within a few days of the start of production. Clearly
linear flow is continuing because of reservoir effects.
A review of offsetting wells production showed
that about 50% of the interpretable production
data from a group of over 50 wells indicated longterm linear flow. For the well in this example, at
the 280-day mark, a fluid level-based well test was
performed. The log-log derivative plot for this second
test is shown in Figure 3-45.

The keys to this study centered on two independent


issues. The first was explicitly modeling cleanup after
the fracture treatment, circumventing any simplifying
assumptions with respect to ignoring cleanup on the PTA
interpretation. The second was identifying the source of
the long-term linear flow. The depositional environment
of the pool did not support channel linear flow. Because
of extensive faulting in the field, permeability anisotropy
seemed plausible. The simulation model was run on
BHP control throughout the long-term production
history with varying levels of anisotropic permeability.
The match was then done on gas production rate. The
magnitude of the calculated gas production was most
sensitive to the overall permeability, and the shape of
the decline on the Fetkovich plot was sensitive to the
anisotropy ratio. This simplified the process of dialing in
the correct amount of anisotropy. Table 3-15 gives final
reservoir properties.

1010

%m(p) and %m(p)a

Table 3-15 Final Well Properties for Example 3-6


109

mlf =

108

%m(p) - Observed
%m(p)a- Observed
10
0.01
7

0.1

10

100

1000

Overall Permeability (kx ky)0.5, md


kx/ky ratio
Propped Fracture Half-Length, ft
Fracture Conductivity, md-ft
CfD
Homogeneous Equivalent Fracture
Half-Length, ft (from Eq. 3-43d)
Gi, scf
Drainage Area, acres

%ta

117
1.97 x 109
120

1011

%m(p) and %m(p)a

Figure 3-45 For Example 3-6, log-log derivative plot for


second build-up, after long production period

This test does not indicate radial flow and shows


slope until late time. This can be interpreted as evidence
that a long, highly conductive hydraulic fracture was
indeed placed. Cleanup issues appear to mask the
fracture in the first PTA test.
It was decided to run a multiphase numerical
simulation model and attempt to match all
data simultaneously. This involves modeling the
following distinct events:

0.175
400
525
833
9.1

1010

%m(p) - Observed
%m(p)a- Observed
%m(p)- History match
%m(p)a- History match
Observed Data Showing
False Radial Flow

109

108

107
0.001

0.01

0.1

1
%ta

10

100

1000

Figure 3-46 For Example 3-6, log-log derivative match of


first PTA test

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

The final fracture half-length is ten times the


estimate from the first PTA. Figures 3-46 and 3-47
show the match of the two PTA tests. Figure 3-48
gives the treatment fluid saturation profile around
the well after the fracture treatment at the end
of the first well test.

%m(p) and %m(p)a

1010

109

108

107
0.01

%m(p) - Observed
%m(p)a- Observed
%m(p)- History match
%m(p)a- History match
0.10

%ta

10

100

1000

Figure 3-47 For Example 3-6, log-log derivative match of


second PTA test

Wellbore

5.3 ft
invasion

525 ft fracture half length


0.25
0.30
0.35
0.40
0.45
0.50
0.55
0.60
0.65
0.70
0.75
Water
Saturation
Legend

Figure 3-48 Saturation profile around the well after the


fracture treatment at the end of the first PTA test

There is still a lot of fluid surrounding the


fracture, with a significantly different mobility from
the gas. For the first build-up match, the early
flattening of the derivative in Fig. 3-46 is modeled
quite well. The flattening is associated with a skinlike effect, as was similarly shown in Figs. 3-17 and
3-33. It is easy to mistake this as the onset of radial
flow. Hategan and Hawkes (2006) warn about the
appearance of false radial flow in fractured wells that
are cleaning up. This example quantifies its effect

and could easily result in interpreting too high a


permeability and too short a fracture half-length.
Because permeability dominates the productivity
index calculation, forecasts would be optimistic. With
the lower-mobility fracture fluid around the well,
it simply takes longer to make the transition into
formation linear flow. This is evident in comparing
the time to the start of formation linear flow in the
second test to the corresponding same time in the
first test, where linear flow is not occurring.
With the final history-matched model it is possible
to test the concept that a bigger fracture job is better.
Traditional gas forecasting techniques based upon
square drainage areas and homogeneous properties
usually indicate this. With anisotropy the benefit of a
bigger treatment is reduced.
It is concluded that the treatment was pumped
properly and the desired high-conductivity fracture
was created. This analysis highlights the impact of
two apparently reasonable assumptions: Neglecting
cleanup and assuming a square drainage area can
result in forecasts that are unrealistically optimistic.
In mature producing areas, a Fetkovich plot of any offset
wells is an absolute necessity in helping identify fieldwide production flow regimes.

3-17 Closure Analysis


Industry has been involved in analyzing pressure
behavior of wells during pumping of the fracture
treatment or from preliminary fracture data for a long
time. Nolte and Smith (1981) pioneered the process
of interpreting fracture geometry from the shape of
the pressure response. The types of analysis have been
split into two categories:
1. Before Closure Analysis The pressure data during
pumping is examined. The value of the treating
pressure minus the closure pressure (piw pc) is the
key parameter in determining the geometry and
leak-off characteristics of the fracture.
2. Closure Analysis After the treatment is
complete, the pressure begins to fall off, much like
a conventional PTA fall-off test. Complications
exist because there is a fracture in the media, which
is very much in a dynamic state. Over time this
open fracture will close. Before closing the fracture

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Modern Fracturing

may continue to grow as a result of energy stored


during the treatment. The analysis of pressure
to closure will give an indication of the leak-off
behavior of the combined fracture/porous media
(see Section 4-2.1.9). After the fracture is closed,
continued analysis of the pressure signature may
give information about permeability and other
reservoir properties for the well.

a change in flow regime. Nolte (1986) identified this as


the closure time, from which pc could be determined.
From the closure time alone, it is then possible to
determine the fluid efficiency, , which is the amount
of fluid remaining in the fracture at closure, normalized
to the total pumped volume:

Both categories of analysis critically require


knowledge about or the determination of the
closure pressure, pc. The various pressures involved
in hydraulic fracturing are more fully defined in
Section 4-2.1.2. This section will deal exclusively
with pressures after pumping has stopped. Further
restrictions are that the analysis will be applied to
clean, ungelled fluid without proppant.
Nolte (1986) introduced a dimensionless
function called the G function, or sometimes just
called G time. Castillo (1987) recognized that when
the G function is plotted against the fall-off pressure
after a fracture injection test, under ideal conditions a
straight line would form and the slope would lead to
the calculation of the leak-off coefficient.
The development of the G function was based
on the assumption that the leak-off coefficient during
fracturing is constant. Different forms of the G
function are possible for low- and high-leak-off cases.
The reader is referred to Section 4-2.1.9 for a more
detailed explanation. In practice, there is little difference
between these two extreme cases, and the low-leak-off
definition will be used:

where Gc is the G function at closure. This is


independent of fracture geometry and is a key
parameter in hydraulic fracturing design because it
will directly affect the size of the pad. An additional
plot used in the industry is the t plot, where pressure,
p, is plotted against t. It is an empirical plot, based
on the general idea of linear flow, as in PTA. However
because the point of initiation of leak-off for fracturing
fluid is different for each point in the fracture, the G
function is rigorous, while t is not.
In practice, picking closure time from a G
function plot has proved to be problematic. As with
specialized plots in PTA, multiple interpretations are
often possible. Additionally, a very significant number
of wells have pressure-dependent leak-off (PDL) or
other nonlinearities that invalidate Noltes (1986) basic
assumptions. Approaches and solutions to the PDL
problem began with Castillo (1987) and Mukherjee et
al. (1991). Barree and Mukherjee (1996) developed a
diagnostic plot, which will be called the combination
G function plot, that involves plotting three quantities
p, dp/dG and G[dp/dG] on the same plot. The
combination G function plot is the equivalent of the
log-log derivative plot in PTA and can be used to
identify flow regimes and to choose pc.
Other specialized plots have been developed by
Nolte et al. (1997) and Talley et al. (1999) for two
special cases after the fracture has closed. The first
case assumes the well is in radial flow after closure and
the second that the well is in linear flow after closure.
Soliman et al. (2005) have pointed out that the well
can also be in bilinear flow after closure, and give
ways to determine reservoir properties. These flow
regimes are all possible because it is unclear whether
the fracture will completely heal or not.
For radial flow Talley et al. (1999) give the following
flow equations:

4

g (t D ) = (1 + t D )1.5 t D1.5 ,
3

G (t D ) =

4
4
g (t D ) and

3

t t

i
,
t D =

ti

(3-44a)

(3-44b)

(3-44c)

where ti is the time to the end of injection, tD is


dimensionless time, g is an intermediate variable, and
G is the G function. When the leak-off coefficient is
constant, a plot of pressure versus G should be a straight
line. Deviation from such a straight line would indicate

Gc

,

2+G
c

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

p (t ) pi = mR FR (t , tc ),

(3-46a)

t
1
FR (t , tc ) = ln 1 + c , with t > t ,
c
4 t tc

(3-46b)

16
1.6 , and
2

(3-46c)

Vi
,
mR tc

(3-46d)

where FR is the Nolte radial after-closure leak-off


function, tc is the closure time, Vi is the injection
volume and mR is the slope of the radial flow
after closure analysis plot. For linear flow the
corresponding equations are:
p (t ) pi = mL FL (t , tc ),

t
2
FL (t , tc ) = sin 1 c , with t > t , and
c
t

,
k c

10500

(3-47b)

(3-47c)

2000

10000

1800
1600

pp

9500

Fracture Closure

9000

G(dp/dG)

1200
1000
800

8500

600

dp/dG

400

8000

200

7500
0

10

15

20

0
25

G time

Figure 3-49 Combination G function plot, constant matrix


leak-off case

Closure time is picked at deviation from the straight


line. Figure 3-50 shows the combination t plot.
10500

1000

10000

900

p
Fracture Closure

9500
t(dp/dt)
9000

800
700
600
500

dp/dt
8500

400

Derivatives

where FL is the Nolte linear after-closure leak-off


function, CL is the combined leak-off coefficient and
mL is the slope of the linear flow ACA plot. In these
formulae , refers to the far-field viscosity, i.e. the
gas viscosity. For the majority of cases pi must also be
considered an unknown. Various diagnostics plots to
be introduced will rely on special derivatives of these
functions. Although the value p(t) pi depends upon
the possibly unknown pi, derivative plots do not.
Therefore diagnostic plots will be presented that rely on
first identifying the correct flow regime and secondly
determining reservoir properties including pi. More
recently Craig and Blasingame (2006) came up with a
very general theory that accounts for all possible flow
regimes after the fracture has closed.
Now that the underlying theory has been reviewed,
Barree (1998), and Barree et al. (2007) describe a
comprehensive methodology utilizing multiple plots to
ensure a consistent interpretation of the closure process.
The following plots need to be constructed:

1400
G(dp/dG)

mL = CL

(3-47a)

P, psi

kh

= 251, 000

The concepts will be illustrated for two cases:


constant matrix leak-off and pressure-dependent leakoff. Additional cases considered in Barree et al. (2007)
but not covered due to space limitations include
fracture tip extension after shut-in and fracture height
recession during closure.
The constant matrix leak-off case is shown in
Figs. 3-49 through 3-52. Figure 3-49 shows the
combination G function plot. Constant leak-off is
shown by the straight-line character of the observed
G[dp/dG] data through the origin.

p, psi

1. Combination G function plot


2. Combination pressure, dp/dt and t[dp/dt]
versus t plot
3. Log-log derivative plot
4. Log-pressure and derivative versus log FL2 plot
5. If radial flow, a) Horner plot, b) Pressure
versus FR plot

300
200

8000

100
7500

Figure 3-50 Combination t plot, constant matrix leakoff case

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Modern Fracturing

This plot has frequently been misinterpreted


when picking pc, even for this simple case.
Originally it was felt that departure from the
straight line, as in the combination G function
plot, should give pc. This is incorrect and leads to
a later closure time and lower apparent closure
pc. The correct pick occurs at the inflection point,
as shown in Fig. 3-50. The best way to pick the
inflection point is from the local maximum of the dp/
dt curve. In Fig. 3-50 the dashed vertical line is at
the same time in both the combination G function
plot and the combination t plot. Figure 3-51 shows
the log-log derivative plot with the G function
closure time superimposed.
1

1000

Radial Flow

m = 0.632

10,500
10,250
m = -1

10,000

100

1000

900

800

Fracture Closure

700

9750

10
0.1

p, psi

%t(d%p/d%t)
%p

Fracture Closure
1

10

100

1000

Figure 3-51 Log-log derivative plot, constant matrix leakoff case with G function closure time superimposed
10000

1000

500

9250

400
300
dp/dG

8750

%p vs FL

200

8500
8250
0

100
2

10 12
G, Time

14

16

10250
10000

p, psi

FL2 (d%p/dFL2)

Fracture Closure
t(dp/dt)

9500

8750
FL2

200
100

dp/dt

8500
0

8250

Figure 3-52 Log-pressure and derivative versus FL2 plot

It is common for the pressure difference


and logarithmic derivative curves to be parallel
immediately before closure. In many cases a near
perfect slope line is evident, strongly suggesting
linear flow in the open fracture. In this case the slope
is greater than , suggesting linear flow coupled with

300

9250
9000

0.1

400
Derivatives

m=1

0.01

0
20

500

False Closure 2

9750

10
0.001

18

Figure 3-53 Combination G function plot, pressuredependent leak-off (PDL) case

Start of Radial Flow

100

600

G(dp/dG)

9500

9000

%t

%p and FL2 d%p/dFL2

G(dp/dG)

%p and %t(d%p/d%t)

BH ISIP = 9998 psi

changing fracture/wellbore storage. The deviation


from constant separation suggests fracture closure
and is consistent with the earlier plots pick of closure
time. After closure, the 1 slope line is an indicator
of radial flow. If the slope had been this would
indicate after-closure linear flow. Figure 3-52 shows
the log-pressure and derivative versus FL2 plot.
Time increases to the left in this plot. After closure,
the unit slope line indicates radial flow. If after closure
linear flow occurred, the line would have a slope.
Because radial flow is evident, a Horner plot and a
pressure versus FR plot could also be constructed to
compare k and pi values.
The corresponding pressure-dependent leak-off
(PDL) example is shown in Figs. 3-53 to 3-56. Figure
3-53 shows the combination G function plot.

Figure 3-54 Combination t plot, PDL case

Pressure versus G shows concave upward


curvature during PDL. The G[dp/dG] plot shows a
hump above the characteristic straight line. The end
of the hump corresponds to the end of PDL. Fracture
closure is still exhibited by departure of the G[dp/dG]

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

function through the origin, as one is back to the


constant matrix leak-off situation. The combination
t plot is shown in Fig. 3-54.
As in the combination G function plot there
is a hump in the t[dp/dt] plot. Incorrect picks of
closure time occur when the dp/dt curve is used to
pick a flat derivative at early time. Instead one should
use the separation of t[dp/dt] from the straight line
thorough the origin to eliminate this apparent closure
time. The correct closure time occurs with a later flat
derivative showing the correct behavior on the t[dp/
dt] curve (line 2 in Fig 3-54). This plot shows that the
multiple-plot approach is far better than relying on a
single diagnostic plot. It is not recommended to use the
combination t plot in isolation. The log-log derivative
plot in Fig. 3-55 shows near perfect slope flow with
the pressure difference and logarithmic derivative curves
showing a separation of .
1

BH ISIP = 10000 psi

%p and %t(d%p/d%t)

1000

Linear
Flow Radial
Flow
(m = -0.5)

%p

(m = 0.5)

(m = -1)

100

%t(d%p/d%t)
Fracture
Closure

10
0.1

10

100

1000

the fracture must still be highly conductive. Later,


a 1 slope occurs, indicating a transition to radial
flow. The log-pressure and derivative versus log-FL2
plot in Fig. 3-56 shows the linear and radial flow
features at the appropriate times.
Barree et al. (2007) also found that for
either the constant matrix leak-off case or PDL
case, one can develop a correlation between
permeability, k, and Gc:
k=

0.0086 f 0.01 pz
1.96

G Er

ct c p
0.0038

, where

pz = pISI pc

(3-48b)

and where f is the minifrac fluid viscosity, pz is the


process zone pressure, and E is Youngs modulus.
The fracture fluid viscosity, f , is normally set to 1.0.
The storage ratio rp, represents the amount of excess
fluid that needs to be leaked off to reach fracture
closure when the fracture geometry deviates from the
normally assumed constant-height planar fracture.
For the constant matrix leak-off and PDL cases, it is
1.0. This permeability correlation allows design work
when all other data is lacking. Figure 3-57 is a plot of
the permeability function, with the PDL example case
permeability estimate shown.

%t

100

Figure 3-55 Log-log derivative plot, PDL case


10000

rp
G
ct
E
N
Gc
Pz

10
End Linear Flow

1
k,md

%p and FL2 d%p/dFL2

Start Linear Flow

1000

%p
Start Radial Flow

0.1

(m = 1)

100

(m = 0.5)

0.01

0.1

1
0.08
6.0 x 10-5
5.0 x 106
1
2.9
841.0

V/V
psi-1
psi
cp
psi

0.01

FL2 (d%p/dFL2)
10
0.001

(3-48a)

0.001

1
1

FL2

Figure 3-56 Log-pressure and derivative versus FL2 plot,


PDL case

This is a strong indication of fracture linear


flow before closure. The slope immediately after
closure indicates linear flow, so some remnants of

5
Gc

10

Figure 3-57 Permeability versus G function (Eq. 3-48a)


for the PDL case (from Barree et al., 2007)

Conway et al. (2007) have also developed a


correlation relating initial expected post-fracture rate
versus Gc, as shown in Fig. 3-58.

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Modern Fracturing

Higher Reservoir Pressure

10,000

1000
Lower Reservoir Pressure
100
Post-fracture Rate
10

Gc

Figure 3-58 Expected post-fracture rate vs. Gc (from


Conway et al., 2007)

The rate is defined as the rate 24 hours after


burnable gas was recovered at surface. In general, each
field should have its own correlation, and the best-fit
line represents an optimal stimulation. Having said
that, Fig. 3-58 was originally developed for the lowpermeability sub-thrusted Deep Morrow in Oklahoma,
but the same plot has proved useful in the Moxa Arch
Frontier in Wyoming and the Deep Basin area in
Canada. Evidence indicates that Gc values greater than
8 may be uneconomic to stimulate.

of the same basic idea. Both procedures require user


specification of control parameters, so the algorithms
cannot be treated like a black box.
For the average person the best description of
technique is given by Houz et al. (2007). They include
a number of thought-provoking examples, with mixed
results. The problem is not with the algorithm of von
Schroeter et al. (2004) but with nonlinear regression in
general. To quote Houz et al. (2007): Any engineer
that has been using non-linear regression on analytical
models knows how this process is impressive when it
succeeds and pathetic when it fails.
The demands for a successful deconvolution
study are high. The data must be self-consistent. For
instance, if a well has multiple build-ups throughout
its producing life, they all must show quite similar
character at each time. If they do not, the analysis is
doomed; therefore, the technique cannot be used on a
well with both pre- and post-fracture tests. A necessary
first step in any study with multiple build-ups would
be to overlay the normalized derivative plots on top of
each other as was shown in Fig. 3-8.
100
FP 06 (Exploration Build-up)

10

3-18 Deconvolution
The idea behind deconvolution is not new; it is
essentially the same principle of superposition
discussed in Section 3-4. The promise of the
technology is this: Variable-rate pressure history can be
converted mathematically into an equivalent constantrate drawdown over the entire duration of the data.
The standard log-log derivative type curves could
then be used to analyze the test. This would provide
a means to see all flow regimes that occur over the
production history of the well in a type curve plot
that is already understood.
The reason this technology has proven to be
elusive is that the numerical process is inherently
unstable. A general algorithm proved beyond reach
until von Schroeter et al. (2004) found a stable way
to implement the mathematics. Their technique was
radically different and converted the problem to a
standard nonlinear least-squares optimization problem.
Subsequently Levitan (2005) published a variation

Rate Normalized Derivatives

Post-fracture Rate, Mcf/d

100,000

1
0.1

FP 35 (Production Build-up)

Deconvolved Derivative
for Various Smoothness Values
Dimensionless Unit Rate
Pressure & Derivative Curves

0.01
0.001
0.0001

Maximum Flow Period


Durations

0.00001
10-4 10-3 10-2 10-1 100

Test Duration

10

10

10

10

10

106

107

108

Time, hrs

Figure 3-59 Normalized log-log derivative plot and


deconvolution derivative (from Gringarten et al., 2006)

On a last note, a simple example from Gringarten


et al. (2006) will be shown. This well has only BHP data
on an initial DST and on a PTA test two years later.
Other than that, only production data was available.
Figure 3-59 shows the normalized log-log derivative
plot for the two tests along with the deconvolution
derivative. For this test it may not seem necessary to
use deconvolution as the drainage area could be treated
as a history matching parameter on its own right. This

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

is true and is indeed how the industry has and will


continue to solve such problems, but it shows that an
alternative approach is now available. Deconvolution
reveals character in the late transient period not seen in
any one-flow period. This feature alone is of great value.
The technology is only in its infancy and it remains to
be seen where it will go.

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Chapter 3 Gas Well Testing and Evaluation

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of Non-Darcy Flow on Well Productivity of
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paper SPE 103025, 2006.
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of Fracture Pressure Decline Curve Analysis to
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Considerations in the Analysis of Gas-Condensate

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Modern Fracturing

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36556, 1996.

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Tony Martin is business development manager for international stimulation at BJ Services Company. Since
graduating from Imperial College, London, with an honors degree in mechanical engineering and a master's
degree in petroleum engineering, Martin has spent 17 years in the oil industry and has completed engineering
assignments around the world. Martin's primary interest has been hydraulic fracturing and stimulation, and
he has been involved in production enhancement projects in more than 25 countries. He teaches fracturing,
acidizing and sand control both in-house and externally. A constant theme in this teaching is the need
to de-mystify the world of hydraulic fracturing, in an attempt to make the process more accessible and
less intimidating. He is the author or co-author of numerous SPE papers and has served on the technical
committees for several SPE events. He is also the author of BJ Services Hydraulic Fracturing Manual.

Dr. Peter P. Valk is a professor of Petroleum Engineering and holder of the L.F. Peterson Professorship
at Texas A&M University. A native Hungarian, Valk holds BS and MS equivalent degrees in chemical
engineering and technical mathematics from Veszprm University, Hungary. He received his PhD
("Candidate of Sciences") in chemical engineering from the Institute of Catalysis, Novosibirsk, Russia, in
1981. Before joining Texas A&M in 1993, he was an adjunct professor at the Mining University in Leoben,
Austria; worked for the Hungarian Oil Company (MOL); and was a faculty member at Etvs University,
Budapest, Hungary. A Steering Committee member of the 1999 and 2006 Forum Series and previous
member of the Editorial Board of SPE Journal, Valk is an active participant in the SPE. At Texas A&M,
he teaches advanced hydraulic fracturing, well completion and stimulation, petroleum numerical methods
and general engineering courses. His research interests include design and evaluation of hydraulic fracture
stimulation treatments, rheology of fracturing fluids, performance of advanced and stimulated wells and
the underlying numerical methods. He published several dozen research papers in well-known journals.

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Chapter 4
Hydraulic Fracture Design for
Production Enhancement
Tony Martin, BJ Services and
Peter Valk, Texas A&M University

were pumped, one for each zone, with a primitive packer


being employed for isolation. The fluid used for the
treatment was war-surplus napalm, surely an extremely
hazardous operation. However, 3000 gals of fluid were
pumped into each formation.

With special contributions from


Dr Russell Maharidge, BJ Services

4-1 Introduction to
Hydraulic Fracturing
4-1.1 Brief History of Fracturing and Qualitative
Description of Process
The first attempts at fracturing formations for the
purpose of improving production were not hydraulic
in nature they involved the use of high explosives to
break the formation apart and provide flow channels
from the reservoir to the wellbore. There are records
indicating that this took place as early as 1890. This
type of reservoir stimulation reached its ultimate
conclusion with the experimental use of nuclear
devices to fracture relatively shallow, low-permeability
formations in the late 1950s and early 1960s (Howard
and Fast, 1970 and Coffer et al., 1964).
By the late 1930s, acidizing had become an accepted
well development technique. Several practitioners
observed that above a certain breakdown pressure,
injectivity would increase dramatically (Grebe and
Stosser, 1935). It is probable that many of these early
acid treatments were in fact acid fractures. In 1940,
Torrey recognized the pressure-induced fracturing of
formations for what it was. His observations were based
on squeeze cementing operations. He presented data to
show that the pressures generated during these operations
could part the rocks along bedding planes or other lines
of sedimentary weakness. Similar observations were
made for water injection wells by Grebe in 1943 and by
Yuster and Calhoun in 1945.
The first intentional hydraulic fracturing process
for stimulation was performed in the Hugoton gas field
in western Kansas, in 1947 (see Fig. 4-1). The Klepper
Gas Unit No. 1 well was completed with four gasproducing limestone intervals, one of which had been
previously treated with acid. Four separate treatments

Figure 4-1 Klepper Gas Unit No. 1, Hugoton field, Kansas:


The very first frac job

Although post-treatment tests showed that the gas


injectivity of some zones had been increased relative to
others, the overall deliverability from the well was not
increased. It was therefore concluded that fracturing would
not replace acidizing for limestone formations. However,
by the mid-1960s, propped hydraulic fracturing had
replaced acidizing as the preferred stimulation method in
the Hugoton field. Early treatments were pumped at 1 to
2 bpm with sand concentrations of 1 to 2 ppga.
At the time of this writing, tens of thousands
of these treatments are pumped every year, ranging
from small skin-bypass fracs at less than $20,000, to
massive fracturing treatments that end up costing well
over $1 million. Many fields produce only because of
the hydraulic fracturing process. In spite of this, many
industry practitioners remain ignorant of the processes
involved and of what can be achieved.
Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of special
fluids into the formation. As the flow rate increases, the
pressure differential also increases. Pressure and stress
are essentially the same thing (see Section 4-3.1.1), so
that as the fluid flow generates a pressure differential, it
also creates a stress in the formation. As flow rate (or
viscosity) increases, so does the stress. If we can keep
increasing the rate, eventually a point will be reached
where the stress becomes greater than the maximum
stress that can be sustained by the formation and the rock

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Modern Fracturing

physically splits apart. It is important to remember that


it is pressure and not rate that creates fractures (although
we often use rate to create this pressure).
Pressure and stress is stored energy, or more
accurately stored energy per unit volume. Energy is
what hydraulic fracturing is all about. In order to create
and propagate a fracture to useful proportions, we have
to transfer energy to the formation. Producing width
and physically tearing the rock apart at the fracture
tip both require energy. Overcoming the often highly
viscous frac fluids resistance to being pumped also
takes energy. So the key to understanding the hydraulic
fracturing process is to understand the sources of energy
gain, such as the frac pumps and the wells hydrostatic
head, and the sources of energy loss and use. The sum
of these is always equal to zero.
A great deal can be learned about a formation by
studying the pressures and pressure profile produced
by a treatment. The product of the pressure and the
flow rate gives us the rate at which energy is being
used, i.e. work. This is usually expressed as hydraulic
horsepower. The analysis of the behavior of fracturing
pressures is probably the most complex aspect of the
entire process for most frac engineers.

High-permeability fracturing is quite different.


Usually, production is constrained by effects around the
wellbore, caused by the dual phenomena of skin damage
(van Everdingen and Hurst, 1949, and van Everdingen,
1953) and the increasing constriction of flow as it
approaches the wellbore. Fractures in high-permeability
formations are designed to be short and highly conductive,
which in turn usually means maximizing propped fracture
width (see Section 4-2.1.6).
However, every formation has a specific combination
of propped length and propped width that must be
designed for (more of this in Section 4-5). For now, it is
enough to simply realize that for every combination of
formation and proppant permeability, there is a specific
combination of propped length and propped width
that must be designed for. Therefore, understanding
the formation permeability is vital to maximizing posttreatment production. If the formation permeability is
unknown the usual situation, unfortunately then
stimulation will be less efficient (although still potentially
highly successful in economic terms).

4-1.2 High Permeability vs. Low Permeability

Hydraulic fracturing has evolved into a technique


suitable to stimulate most wells under extremely
varying
circumstances.
Originally
suggested
for low-permeability gas, it still plays a crucial
role in developing low-permeability sandstone
formations, and is increasingly used to produce from
low-permeability carbonates, shales and coal seams.
In general, a vertical well drilled and completed
in a tight gas reservoir must be successfully
stimulated to produce at commercial gas-flow
rates and produce commercial gas volumes. In
fact, Holditch (2006) considers the best definition
of tight gas as follows: A reservoir that cannot be
produced at economic rates nor one can recover
from it economic volumes of gas without largescale hydraulic fracturing treatment or advanced
(horizontal, multilateral) wellbores. Although in
some naturally fractured tight gas reservoirs horizontal
wells are successful, often they also need fracture
stimulation. In this sense hydraulic fracturing is truly
a reservoir stimulation technique.

Just as formation permeability has a huge effect on


production from an unfractured formation, it also
has a similar impact on post-treatment production
from a hydraulically fractured interval. Moreover, the
formation permeability also affects the size and shape
of the fracture required to maximize the production
increase obtained from fracturing. Put simply, a fracture
has to be designed for specific formation permeability.
This design process is covered in Section 4-5.
Low-permeability formations require stimulation
because the permeability of the formation just isnt high
enough for the well to produce naturally at economic
rates. Although the reservoir may contain significant
reserves, sufficient production cannot be obtained
simply by drilling wells, no matter how well-engineered
they are. In low-permeability formations, it is easy to
produce a fracture that is many times more conductive
than the formation. Fractures in low-permeability
reservoirs are designed for length.

4-1.3 Near-Well Flow Enhancement


vs. Reservoir Stimulation

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

However, in higher-permeability soft formations


(for instance in the Gulf of Mexico) hydraulic fracturing
is primarily a near-wellbore flow enhancement (well
stimulation) technique, and often its side effects such
as sanding prevention might be the primary reason
of application. In recent years high-permeability
fracturing has become as significant in the economic
sense as low-permeability fracturing.
4-1.4 Acceleration vs. Increase of Reserves
As we move along a hypothetical line from tight
gas to high permeability, the recovery acceleration
aspect of the technique becomes increasingly evident.
However, one should recall that the gas produced
through the year 2000 from US tight gas reservoirs
is estimated to be 58 Tcf, and most of this gas would
be still underground without the development and
application of hydraulic fracturing technology
(Holditch, 2006). The US experience lets the industry
believe that in virtually every basin worldwide
producing substantial volumes of natural gas from
conventional resources, large volumes of gas are still
to be recovered using hydraulic fracturing and other
up-to-date technology.
Therefore, one should not use some artificial
classification boxing hydraulic fracturing into
either of the above categories and settle for design
recommendations that were developed as rule of
thumb in a specific geographical area. The design
methodology presented in Sections 4-5 and 4-6 is
based on a more rigorous approach and emphasizes the
importance of optimization with respect to the actual
reservoir (or drainage volume) that is usually neither
clearly tight or high perm but rather represents
some kind of transition between these extremes.

4-2 Description of the Process



4-2.1 One of the Most Energyand Material-Intensive Industrial Activities
As fluid is pumped into a permeable formation, a
pressure differential between the wellbore pressure and
the original reservoir pressure is generated. As the rate
increases, this pressure differential also increases. This

pressure differential causes additional stress around the


wellbore. Eventually, as the rate increases, this pressure
differential will cause stresses that will exceed the
stress needed to break the rock apart, and a fracture
will form. At this point, if the pumps are shut down
or the pressure is bled off, the fracture will close again.
Eventually, depending on how hard the rock is and the
magnitude of the force acting to close the fracture, it
will be as if the rock had never been fractured. By itself,
this would not necessarily produce any increase in
production (although there are specific circumstances
when this may increase productivity temporarily, but
generally these cannot be relied upon).
However, if we pump some propping agent, or
proppant, into the fracture and then release the pressure, the
fracture will stay propped open, providing the proppant is
stronger than the forces trying to close the fracture. If this
proppant also has significant porosity and permeability,
then under the right circumstances a path of increased
conductivity has been created from the reservoir to the
wellbore. If the treatment has been designed correctly,
this will lead to an increase in production.
Generally, the process requires pumping a highly
viscous fluid into the well at high rate and pressure.
Pumping at high rate and high pressure requires
horsepower, and lots of it. This is why the process
generally involves large trucks or skids with huge
diesel engines and massive pumps. A typical frac pump
will be rated from 700 to 2700 hydraulic horsepower
(HHP). To put this in perspective, 1300 HHP is
approximately equal to 1 MW, enough electricity to
power ~500 homes in Western Europe.
In order to create the fracture, a fluid stage known as
the pad is generally pumped first. This is then followed
by several stages of proppant-laden fluid, which carries
the proppant into the fracture. Generally, the fluid and
proppant is mixed into a slurry on-the-fly, and pumped
downhole using equipment specifically designed to
pump a mixture of liquids and solids. Finally, the
whole treatment is displaced to the perforations. These
stages are pumped consecutively, without any pauses.
After the displacement has finished, the pumps are
shut down and the fracture is allowed to close on the
proppant. The frac engineer can vary the pad size,
proppant stage sizes, number of proppant stages,
proppant concentration within the stages, the overall

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Modern Fracturing

Pressure, Rate, Proppant Concentration

pump rate and the fluid type in order to produce the


required fracture characteristics. Typically, a plot of
treatment variables will look like Fig. 4-2.

4-2.1.1 Understanding the


Significance of Pressure

Understanding the sources of energy gain and energy


loss (or use) is fundamental to understanding the
fracturing process (see Table 4-1). Nolte-Smith analysis
(Nolte and Smith, 1981) is based on analyzing the
gradient of the bottomhole treating pressure plot
during fracturing operations. On a standard job plot,
where pressure is plotted against time, the gradient of
this curve is energy divided by time, or work. Thus, an
analysis of the pressure plot gradient can indicate how
much work is being performed by the fracturing fluid
on the formation, or vice versa.

BHTP

STP
Slurry Rate

Proppant
Concentration
Time

Figure 4-2 Job plot from a typical hydraulic fracture


treatment

Table 4-1 Sources of Energy Gain and Energy Use


During Fracturing Operations

Hydraulic fracture treatments place hundreds of


thousands of pounds of proppant into fractures hundreds
of feet long, using tens of thousands of gallons of
fracturing fluid and thousands of hydraulic horsepower.
Fig. 4-3 shows an idealized fracture with two
symmetrical, elliptically-shaped fractures positioned
on either side of the wellbore. In reality, the situation
is often quite a bit more complex. However, this figure
does demonstrate the basic fracture characteristics of
length, xf , height, hf , (assumed to be at a maximum at
the wellbore, for this idealized case) and width, wf (again,
assumed to be at a maximum at the wellbore).

Energy Gain

Energy Use

Conversion of mechanical
energy into pressure and
rate by frac pumps
Hydrostatic head

Wellbore friction
Perforation friction
Tortuosity
Fluid friction in fracture
Overcoming in-situ stresses
Fluid leakoff
Producing fracture width
Splitting rock at the fracture tip

4-2.1.2 Different Types of Pressure

In hydraulic fracturing it is common to refer to a large


number of different pressures encountered during
operations and analysis. Each has its own name (or
more usually, several common names) which refer to
either where the pressure is being measured or what
the pressure is doing:

xf

Injection Pressure, pinj . Also referred to as


wellhead pressure (WHP), surface treating pressure
(STP) or simply treating pressure. It is the
pressure at the wellhead, against which the frac
pumps must act.

hf
wf

Figure 4-3 Idealized elliptical fracture showing length,


height and width

Hydrostatic Head, phead . Also referred to as HH,


hydrostatic pressure (ph) or fluid head. This is the
pressure exerted by the wellbore fluid due to its depth
and its density.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Pipe Friction Pressure, ppipe friction. Also referred to as


tubing friction pressure or wellbore friction pressure.
This is the pressure loss due to friction effects in the
wellbore as fluids are injected.
Bottomhole Injection Pressure, piw. Also referred to
as bottomhole treating pressure (BHTP) or bottomhole
pressure (BHP). This is the downhole pressure, in the
wellbore, in the center of the interval being treated.
BHTP can be calculated from surface data as follows:
piw = pinj + phead ppipe friction

(4-1)

Perforation Friction Pressure, ppf. This is the pressure


lost as the fracturing fluid passes through the restricted
flow area of the perforations. Perforation friction
pressure can be calculated by:

q 2

(4-2)
ppf = 0.2369 2 s2 2 ,
N perf D p Cd

where is the slurry density (ppg), q is the total flow rate


(bpm), Nperf is the number of perforation (so that q/Nperf
is the rater per perforation) and Dp is the perforations
diameter (inches) and Cd is the discharge coefficient.
Tortuosity Pressure, ptort. Also known simply as
tortuosity, this is the pressure lost by the fracturing fluid
as it passes through a region of restricted flow between
the perforations and the main fracture or fractures.
Near-Wellbore Friction, pnear wellbore. This is the
total pressure loss due to near-wellbore effects and is
equal to the sum of perforation friction pressure plus
tortuosity pressure.
Instantaneous Shut-In Pressure, pISI. Also known as
ISIP or instantaneous shut-down pressure (ISDP). This
is the bottomhole injection pressure immediately after
the pumps have been shut down, so that the effects of
all the fluid friction-based pressure losses (ppipe friction, ppf
and ptort) have gone to zero.
Closure Pressure, pc. This is the pressure exerted by
the formation on the proppant. It is also the minimum
pressure required inside the fracture in order to keep
it open. For a single layer, pc is usually equal to the

minimum horizontal stress, allowing for the effects


of pore pressure (see Sections 4-3.2.2 and 4-3.2.3).
Otherwise, pc is the result of some natural averaging
process involving all the layers. For distinctly multilayered formations, it is possible to observe more than
one closure pressure.
Extension Pressure, pext. Also known as fracture
extension pressure. This is the pressure required
inside the fracture in order to make the fracture grow.
By definition, pext > pc as the fracture has to be held
open before it can gain length, height and width.
Extension pressure is not a constant and will vary
with fracture geometry.
Fracturing Fluid Pressure, pf. Although used in a
variety of situations, strictly speaking the fracturing
fluid pressure is the pressure of the fracturing fluid
inside the main body of the fracture, after it has passed
through the perforations and any tortuosity. Fracturing
fluid pressure may not be constant over the entire
fracture due to friction effects.
4-2.1.3 Net Pressure

Net pressure, pnet, is the excess pressure in the fracturing


fluid inside the fracture, above that required to simply
keep the fracture open (i.e. pc). In other words, it is the
energy in the fracturing fluid available for propagating
the fracture and for producing width.
Net pressure, as used in analyzing fracture geometry,
is immediately beyond the wellbore and just inside the
fracture and can be calculated as follows:
pnet = p f pc , and

(4-3)

pnet = piw p pf ptort pc .

(4-4)

It is difficult to over-emphasize the importance of


net pressure during fracturing. Virtually all analysis
involving fracture geometry uses net pressure as the
common variable linking all parts of the mathematical
model. The net pressure, multiplied by the volume
of the fracture, gives us the total quantity of energy
available at any given time to make the fracture
grow. How that energy is used (generation of width,

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Modern Fracturing

splitting of rock, fluid loss or friction loss) is decided


by the individual fracture model being employed to
simulate fracture growth.
Net pressure also defines the fracture width. For any
given real (i.e. positive) net pressure, there is a specific
fracture width that will be generated by a specific net
pressure. For an elliptical fracture, the maximum width
is defined as follows:
wmax =

2 pnet d (1 2 )
E

(4-5)

where is the Poissons ratio (see Section 4-3.1.2), E


is the Youngs modulus (see Section 4-3.1.3) and d is
the minimum dimension of the ellipse, such that for
a fracture with good height containment, d = hf. The
term E/(1 2) is often abbreviated to E, the plane
strain modulus (see Section 4-3.1.3).
Net pressure also defines the propagation of the
fracture (the physical splitting of the rock at the
fracture tip) to produce height and length. For the
fracture to propagate, the condition pnet > pext must
be satisfied, which is the same as saying that the net
pressure has to be high enough to induce a critical
stress in the formation sufficient to split the rock.
Determining the value for the pext and hence the critical
stress is not simple; it varies with fracture geometry.
In addition, fractures often propagate through layers
of rocks with varying rock mechanical characteristics
and hence different values for fracture toughness (see
Section 4-3.4). Therefore, given that in-situ stress and
Youngs modulus may also vary from rock layer to rock
layer, it is often easier for the fracture to propagate in
one particular layer than in any of the others. Like
everything else in nature, fractures follow the path of
least resistance. Hopefully, this path of least resistance
is in the reservoir rock, leading to the maximum
designed length and good height containment within
the zone of interest.
Consequently, net pressure falls into three
regimes:
pnet 0 Fracture is closed, no propagation possible.
0 < pnet pext Fracture is open with wf pnet. No
propagation possible.
pnet > pext Fracture is open with wf pnet, and pressure
generates sufficient stress to propagate fracture.

Given that fluid is continually leaking off into the


formation (see Section 4-2.1.5), the volume of the
fracture will start to decline if the leakoff volume is
not replaced. In practical terms, this means that as
the fluid leaks off, the pressure declines and the width
decreases. To stop the width decreasing, the fluid lost
into the formation has to be replaced. Pumping into
the fracture at the same rate that the fluid is leaking
off will maintain constant fracture geometry. In order
to increase fracture volume, fluid has to be pumped
into the fracture faster than it is leaking off. As extra
volume is introduced, the width will increase in
accordance with the rise in pnet. If fluid is pumped in
at sufficient rate, pnet will rise to a point where it is
greater than the current pext, and the fracture will gain
height and length in addition to width. In order to
continue fracture growth, fluid has to be pumped into
the fracture faster than the sum of the fluid lost to
leakoff, the volume gained by expanding width and
the volume gained by expanding length and height.
Otherwise, pnet will decline below current pext and the
fracture will cease to grow, even if pnet is sufficient
to maintain width. This, then, defines a minimum
treatment rate for fracture propagation.
4-2.1.4 Effects of Tortuosity
and Perforation Friction

Near-wellbore friction (NWBF) is a catch-all term


designed to encompass a number of effects that act to
restrict the flow path between the wellbore and the main
body of the fracture or fractures. Usually, near-wellbore
friction is the sum of the effects caused by tortuosity and
perforation friction (see Section 6-6). There are different
techniques for dealing with each of these, and a stepdown test may be required to decide which phenomenon
is causing the problem (see Section 4-2.1.8).
NWBF manifests itself as a frictional pressure drop.
In fracturing, the surface treating pressure is driven
by the bottomhole treating pressure, which in turn is
driven by the pressure of the fluids inside the fracture.
Near-wellbore friction adds to the fluid pressure
inside the fracture, making the BHTP (and hence
the STP) higher than it would normally be. Because
measurements of closure pressure are unaffected by
NWBF (as they are taken under static conditions,

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

when all friction pressure is zero), NWBF can have the


effect of making pnet seem higher than it really is. This
is illustrated in Fig. 4-4, showing the shut-down at the
end of a minifrac. Note the pressure immediately drops
by approximately 170 psi as soon as the rate is stopped
(this is an accurate figure as the BHTP is being taken
from a downhole gauge). Without allowing for NWBF,
the engineer (and the simulator) would believe that
the net pressure was 170 psi higher than it actually is.
In this particular case, with closure pressure measured
at 3335 psi, the actual pnet is about 100 psi, whereas
if NWBF had not been allowed for, the figure would
have been 270 psi. Consequently, the engineer would
have believed that the fluid needed more energy for
creating a fracture than it actually had. Accordingly, the
treatment would have been designed with significantly
more proppant than the fracture could actually hold,
leading to a premature screenout.
3600

50
40

+/- 170 psi Near-Wellbore Friction

3400

30

Gauge BHTP

3300

20
Slurry Rate

3200

10

3100
15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

Slurry Rate, bpm

Pressure, psi

3500

2. The active perforations will erode and increase in


diameter throughout the treatment. Proppant is
highly abrasive and can significantly increase the
size of a perforation opening as the treatment
progresses (Cramer, 1987).
3. Some perforations are more equal than others.
Perforating guns will lie along the low side of the
well; consequently, holes on the low side will be larger
than holes on the high side. This puts into question
the uniformity of the perforation diameters.
4. Some perforations may be blocked or partially
blocked. Blockages may be due to materials
produced from the formation (scales, asphaltenes,
waxes, fines, produced sand), debris from
perforating, damaging materials introduced from
the wellbore (such as fluid loss additives), or a
combination of these.
Most fracture simulators will automatically calculate
perforation friction and back this out of any net pressure
calculations. However, this calculation is only as good as
the data input. The engineer must be aware of this and
also be wary of behavior as seen in Fig. 4-4.
Fixing poor-quality perforations usually requires
some kind of intervention such as a ball-out (with or
without acid) or re-perforating.

0
25

Elapsed Time, mins

Figure 4-4 Minifrac shutdown showing approximately


170 psi near-wellbore friction pressure

Perforation friction is easy to visualize. Perforations


consist of a number of small holes, through which a
highly viscous fluid is pumped at very high rate.
Therefore, it is almost a foregone conclusion that there
is a pressure drop. However, four things act to make
this pressure drop complex and hard to predict:
1. The treatment will not be pumped through all
the perforations. Even over a long perforated
interval with 200 to 400 perforations, it is
likely that only 10 to 20 of the perforations will
actually be taking the injected fluid. This has
been demonstrated many times: The formation
breaks down at the weakest point, not over the
entire perforated interval simultaneously.

Figure 4-5 Diagrammatic illustration of the restricted


Flow Paths between the Perforations and the Main
Fracture(s) that Cause Tortuosity

Tortuosity begins where the perforations end. In


an ideal world, there would be a straight, smooth and
wide connection between the perforations and the main
body of the fracture or fractures. However, sometimes
this is not the case and the flow path is restricted.
Sometimes this flow path can be so restricted that it
significantly affects the treatment (see Section 6-6). In
fact, tortuosity is probably the single biggest cause of
premature screenouts. Figure 4-5 shows a diagrammatic
illustration of tortuosity. Because fracture-to-well

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Modern Fracturing

connectivity is crucial in higher-permeability reservoirs,


alleviating tortuosity is essential; for lower-permeability
formations it is less critical but still desirable.
Tortuosity was first documented by Palmer and
Veatch (1990), although many others had been observing
this phenomenon for some time without realizing
exactly what it was. Cleary et al. (1991) were able to
further describe tortuosity and begin to account for it in
fracture modelling. In 1993, Cleary et al. were the first
to document field procedures for mitigating and even
curing the effects of tortuosity.
Not all wellbores are affected by tortuosity. Not all
formations are susceptible to tortuosity. However, in
some formations it can be almost impossible to place any
proppant, in spite of the fact that it is relatively easy to
create and propagate the fracture itself. The following are
some factors that affect tortuosity, some of which can be
controlled and some of which cannot:
Length of perforated interval. Every perforation is
a potential source of fracture initiation. The more
perforations there are, the greater the chance of having
both multiple fractures and complexity between
the perforations and the fracture(s). Reducing the
number of perforations helps to keep things simple.
While this may aid in fracture execution, it may lead
to choked fractures during production, a considerable
impediment in higher-permeability formations.
Perforation phasing and direction. The optimum
perforation strategy in vertical wells is to shoot 180phasing perforations, oriented in the direction of
maximum horizontal stress. The fracture will also tend
to propagate in this direction (see Section 4-3.2.4).
However, the only way to do this is through the use
of oriented perforating guns and the knowledge of the
fracture azimuth a priori. Perforations that are pointed
away from the direction of maximum horizontal
stress will add to the complexity of the near-wellbore
situation. In addition, perforation strategies that
produce spirals of holes around the wellbore, rather
than vertical lines, will also add to the complexity.
Shot diameter and depth of penetration. Recent work
by Pongratz et al. (2007) indicates that the fracture
will initiate from the base of the perforation, at the
cement-to-rock interface rather than at the tip or
side of the perforation tunnel. In such cases, small-

diameter holes (usually, but not always, associated with


deep-penetrating charges) produce a smaller stress
cage around the perforation tunnel and thus make
fracture initiation easier and less complex. This effect
is greatest in harder, lower-permeability formations.
Wellbore deviation. Fractures tend to propagate along
a vertical plane (see Section 4-3.2.4) as this is the path
of least resistance and controlled by the formations
in-situ stresses. However, in the region around the
wellbore, because of its cylindrical shape, the stresses
are no longer far-field stresses. In addition, the act of
drilling the wellbore (which will have almost certainly
have been drilled and cemented overbalanced) and
of pumping into the formation to create the fracture
further change the stresses around the wellbore. This
means that for non-vertical wellbores, with an azimuth
away from one of the principal stress orientations, the
fracture will probably initiate on a different plane to
that determined by the far-field stresses. However,
at some point away from the wellbore (within a few
wellbore diameters) the far-field stress regime will
become again dominant and the fracture will change
plane often quite suddenly. This increases fracture
complexity and pressure losses.
Rock mechanical characteristics of the formation (see
Section 4-3). Formations that are hard and brittle (i.e.
have high Youngs modulus (see Section 4-3.1.3) and
low fracture toughness (see Section 4-3.4.1)) tend to
be more susceptible to tortuosity than those that are
soft and ductile. This is because it is easier to create
and propagate fractures in hard, brittle materials.
Contrast between maximum and minimum
horizontal stresses. The effect of the contrast between
the minimum horizontal in-situ stress (h,min) and
the maximum horizontal in-situ stress (h,max) (see
Section 4-3.2) is illustrated in Fig. 4-6. If the far-field
stresses are in a significantly different direction from
the orientation of the initial fracture propagation,
the fracture will have to make a radical change in
direction at some point. When the horizontal stresses
are very similar, this will be a gradual change in
direction, accompanied by plenty of fracture width.
However, when there is a large contrast between these
stresses, the change in direction will be a lot more
abrupt and will introduce a dramatic reduction in
width, leading to restricted flow. Large contrasts in

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

horizontal stresses are typically found in formations


that have experienced significant tectonic and other
geological activity. Therefore, it is reasonable to
assume that formations in geologically active areas,
or with a significant history of faulting, will have an
increased tendency towards tortuosity.

means that as the fracturing fluid is being pumped into


the formation, a certain proportion of this fluid is being
lost into the formation as fluid leakoff. Understanding
the rate of fluid leakoff is essential to understanding
the fracture geometry. To start with, material balance
tells us that the volume of the fracture, Vf, will be equal
to the total volume pumped (or injected), Vi, less the
volume of fluid leaked off, VL:
V f = Vi VL .

Figure 4-6 Illustration of the effects of horizontal stress


contrast on tortuosity (after Wright et al., 1996)

Premature Screenouts. Tortuosity has a far more sinister


effect than simply adding to the BHTP. Unfortunately,
because tortuosity is caused by restricted flow paths
between the perforations and the main body of the fracture,
it can often be difficult to pump even moderate proppant
concentrations into the fracture. Proppant bridging in
this region is all too common. Often, the geometry of
the near-wellbore flow paths is such that lower proppant
concentrations can pass through without any serious
problems, but as soon as a critical proppant concentration
is passed, the grains bridge over the flow channel and
cause a premature screenout. There are numerous cases
of treatments screening out just as increased proppant
concentration reaches the formation.
Techniques for curing tortuosity rely on deliberately
screening out the narrowest of the flow channels and
then using increased rate and pressure to force the
remaining flow channels sufficiently wide (Cleary et
al., 1993). Of course the best plan is to incorporate
drilling and perforating practices, along with appropriate
measurements of stresses and stress orientations, in a
holistic approach with hydraulic fracturing.
4-2.1.5 Fluid Leakoff and Slurry Efficiency

Hydraulic fracture treatments are pumped into permeable


formations there is little point in carrying out the
process in a formation with zero permeability. This

(4-6)

Carter (1957) was the first to try to quantify fluid


leakoff and defined the leakoff volume in terms of an overall
leakoff coefficient, CL (referred to as Ceff elsewhere). The
velocity of fluid flow into the formation, perpendicular to
the fracture face at a specified point is given by
vL =

CL
,
t texp

(4-7)

where t is the time since the start of pumping and texp


is the time at which the specified point of the fracture
face was exposed to fluid loss. Solving for the entire
fracture gives the following result:

t
A
(4-8)
VL = 2
uL dAdt.

The double integral is the summation of leakoff


over the entire fracture for the entire treatment period.
Remember that each individual segment of the fracture
is leaking off at a different rate in proportion to the
square root of its exposure time. For a constant fracture
area, such as during a post-treatment pressure decline
(provided pnet < pext), Eq. 4-8 can be approximated as:

VL CL Af t ,

(4-9)

in field units, where Af is measured in ft2 (and includes


both sides of the fracture), t in minutes and CL in ft
min-. Note that this fluid leakoff is independent of
changes in pressure, filtrate viscosity and formation
permeability to the filtrate (which can change due to
relative permeability effects).
Often, the leakoff coefficient can be assumed to
be constant; there is usually not enough data available
to do anything else. This is what is usually calculated
from a minifrac pressure decline (see Section 4-2.1.9).

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Modern Fracturing

Total Filtrate Volume, ml

However, the coefficient can also be approximated by


calculating three fluid leakoff components and then
combining these to form the overall leakoff coefficient,
as described by Howard and Fast (1970). The three
components are the viscosity controlled coefficient
(Cv), the compressibility controlled coefficient (Cc)
and the wall-building controlled coefficient (Cw)
often referred to simply as the wall-building coefficient
(Howard and Fast, 1957). These three components
can be combined as dynamic fluid loss (Williams
et al., 1979) or harmonic fluid loss (Smith, 1965),
although there are some problems associated with
this, including the fact that most of the required input
data is very rarely available and has to be estimated.
This approach is employed in some of the commonly
used fracture models. Other models employ a gridbased leakoff approach, as discussed by McGowen et
al. (1999). A more complex approach was proposed
by Mayerhofer et al. (1993), which accounts for the
filter cake and reservoir response, allowing for the
superposition of injection history, filter-cake deposition
and associated rate convolution. A full discussion of
these fluid loss models can be found in Economides
and Nolte (1987 and later editions).

Slope = m

C A

w f
t + VS ,
VL ,C =

0.0164

(4-10)

where VS is the spurt loss volume, which is a function


of leakoff area. To account for this, it is usual to define a
spurt loss coefficient, Sp:
Vs = S p A,

(4-11)

where A is the area over which the spurt loss occurs.


Fluid Efficiency. Fluid efficiency is a concept used in
many fracturing applications and is relatively simple. At
any given time, the fluid efficiency is given by:
V

V V
Vi

f
L
=
= i
= 1

Vi

VL
,
Vi

(4-12)

where Vi is the total volume of fluid injected into the


fracture and Vf is the volume of the fracture itself. Thus,
the greater the fluid efficiency, the greater the volume
of the fracture and the less fluid leak-off. As a result,
when a fluid system is described as being efficient, it
has low fluid-loss characteristics. Efficiency depends on
the fracture size and treating rate, and usually it refers to
the value at the end of fluid injection or pumping, p.
However, efficiency can be defined at any point when the
fracture is open (i.e., pnet > 0).
Care should be taken when using fluid efficiency as a
comparison between fluids and/or treatments. Efficiency
is highly variable and not dependent solely upon fluid and
formation characteristics. Being fluid loss-based, it is also
dependent upon the fracture area, the pressure differential,
the pumping time and several other variables. This means
that for two treatments pumped into identical formations,
significantly different fluid efficiencies can be observed by
changing only the pumping rate or injected volume.

Spurt Volume

4-2.1.6 Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity


Time, mins

Figure 4-7 Illustration of the effects of horizontal stress


contrast on tortuosity (after Wright et al., 1996)

Spurt loss. Spurt loss is the extra fluid loss that occurs
before the fracturing fluid builds up a complete filter
cake on the fracture face. As illustrated by Fig. 4-7,
the total fluid loss due to filtration-based fluid loss
can be expressed as:

Dimensionless fracture conductivity, CfD, is a measure


of how conductive the fracture is compared to the
formation. The consequences of this will be discussed
in detail in Section 4-5. To start with, the dimensioned
fracture conductivity is:
C f = wave k f ,

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

where wave is the average propped width (ft) and kf is


the permeability of the fracture ( in-situ proppant
permeability) in md. Think of Cf as the flow capacity of
the fracture. The dimensionless fracture conductivity is
calculated from the fracture conductivity:
Cf
xf k

wave k f
xf k

(4-14)

Equation 4-14 compares the ability of the fracture to


transport fluids to the wellbore (the numerator) with
the ability of the formation to transport fluids to the
fracture (the denominator). CfD is a major variable used
in fracture design and has a massive influence on posttreatment production. It will be used extensively in
numerous subsequent sections of this book.

4-2.1.7 Nolte-Smith Analysis Predicting


Fracture Geometry from Pressure Trends

Nolte and Smith (1981) introduced a method for


analyzing the pressure response of a formation during
pumping, in order to interpret the fracture geometry
being produced. Based on the 2-D Perkins and Kern
Nordgren (PKN) fracture geometry (Perkins and Kern,
1961, and Nordgren, 1972), Khristianovich and Zheltov
(1955) and Geertsma and de-Klerk (1969) (KGD), and
radial models (see Section 4-5.6), the method analyzes
the expected pressure response from the formation during
fracture propagation, and then predicts the pressure
response when certain types of behavior take place.
PKN fracture geometry assumes constant height,
with length considerably longer than height, and also
that net pressure is a function of time such that pnet(t)
te, where 1/8 < e < 1/5 for a Newtonian fluid (see Section
4-4.1.1). Taking logs of this relationship gives:
log pnet = e log t + constant.

II

log pnet

C fD =

These upper and lower boundaries are the result


of solving a polynomial equation. This means that
for practical values of n, the lower boundary of e
will be between 0.25 and 0.125, while the upper
boundary will be between 0.3333 and 0.2. So any
straight line on a Nolte-Smith plot with gradient
between 0.3333 and 0.125 probably indicates that
there is very good height containment (provided
the fluids bottomhole rheological properties are not
changing significantly).
Nolte and Smith went on to define the pressure
response of other behaviors during fracturing. The results
of this are illustrated in Fig. 4-8 and Table 4-2.

IV

log t

Figure 4-8 Nolte-Smith analysis pressure response


Table 4-2 Nolte-Smith Analysis Pressure Response
Modes (with reference to Fig. 4-8)
Mode

II

(4-15)
IIIa

This means that on a plot of log pnet against log t,


fractures exhibiting PKN fracture geometry will have
a straight line of gradient e. This represents Mode I
on the Nolte-Smith plot (see Fig. 4-8). For power law
fluids (see Section 4-4.1.3) the gradient e is defined
with upper and lower boundaries as:
1
4n '+ 4

1
.
2n '+ 3

< e <

(4-16)

III

IIIb
IV

Behavior
Propagation with PKN fracture geometry. Gradient
is equal to e (see Eq. 4-16) for constant frac fluid
rheology.
Constant gradient = 0. Represents height growth
in addition to length growth, or increased fluid loss,
or both. Can also be explained by a change in the
relationship between pnet and wf (see Eq. 4-5 this
implies a change in rock mechanical characteristics).
Unit slope. This means that pnet is now directly
proportional to time (and also to rate, as this is
usually constant with respect to time). This behavior
is usually associated with additional growth in wf
such as during a tip screenout (see Section 4-7.3.2).
Slope > 2. Screenout, usually a near-wellbore event
with a very rapid rise in pressure.
Negative slope. Rapid height growth. Potentially
KGD or radial fracture geometry.

The introduction of Nolte-Smith analysis in the early


1980s coincided with the first practical use of computers
on fracturing locations. Consequently, fracturing service

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Modern Fracturing

4-2.1.8 Step Rate Tests

Step rate tests, along with minifracs (see Section 42.1.9), are collectively referred to as calibration tests.
These are fluid injections before a fracture treatment,
designed to collect important information to help
calibrate the fracture simulator and hence provide a
more accurate prediction of fracture geometry. They
can also provide some important information about
near-wellbore restricted flow. Step rate tests come in
two varieties, step up and step down.
When performing step rate tests, it is necessary
to obtain reliable bottomhole pressure data. BHTP
calculated from STP does not provide accurate enough
data for treatment-critical analysis such as this. Often,
BH memory gauges can be run on slickline and held
in place during the calibration tests, to be retrieved
afterwards. The data can be merged with surface data
to provide an accurate basis for the analysis. This can be
done quickly and cheaply.
Step-Up Tests. Step-up tests are performed with
the fracture initially closed. The objective of the test
is to obtain the fracture extension pressure, pext, by
injecting into the formation in a series of increasing
rate steps and then by analyzing the data on a pressure
against rate cross-plot.
To pump a step-up test, start with the fracture closed
(often, the step-up test is the first operation performed
on the well). Start at the lowest rate possible with the frac
pumps this is usually in the region of 0.5 to 0.75 bpm.
Then step up the rate by as little as possible; an experienced
pump operator will probably be able to get the next rate
step at 1 bpm. Keep stepping up in small increments,
a difficult task with modern, high-horsepower fracturing
pumps, requiring good control from the pump operator.
However, it is important to get at least three good rate

steps before the fracture opens, so that a pressure trend can


be seen. At each rate step, it is important not to proceed
to the next step until the pressure has stabilized, so the
pump operator should get to approximately the right rate
and then leave the pumps alone. It is more important to
stabilize the rate and pressure for each stage than it is to
achieve exactly the right rate. Record the stabilized rate
and bottomhole treating pressure for each stage. As the
rate increases, bigger steps can be taken: Typical pumping
rates for a step-up test could be 0.7, 1.0, 1.2, 1.5, 1.8,
2.1, 2.5, 3.0, 4.0, 6.0, 8.0, 10.0 and 15.0 bpm. After the
test, plot stabilized BHTP against slurry rate to find the
fracture extension pressure, as illustrated in Fig. 4-9.
4500
4300
Gauge BHTP, psi

companies were able to provide the first real-time fracture


diagnostics using Nolte-Smith plots that were continually
updated during the treatment. For the first time in
fracturing history, it became important to stay inside the
control van and watch the computer screens.
Nolte-Smith analysis remains a very powerful tool
for predicting fracture geometry, despite the fact that it is
based on explaining deviations from ideal 2-D behavior.

4100
3900

pext= +/- 3920

3700
3500
0

4
5
6
Slurry Rate, bpm

10

Figure 4-9 Typical pressure-rate cross-plot from a stepup test

The following points should be remembered when


conducting a step-up test:
1. Always start with the fracture closed.
2. Use any fluid. However, if BHTP is being
calculated from surface data, the wellbore contents
must be understood.
3. Note that the fracture extension pressure, pext, is
not constant. It will vary throughout a fracture
treatment, usually decreasing. As the fracture
grows (per unit volume of fluid injected), it
becomes easier to create fracture length and
height, and harder to create width.
4. Although the step-up test is the least useful of the
calibration tests, it does provide a useful upper
boundary for finding pc from a pressure decline
(which can sometimes be quite difficult). A pext
generated through a step-rate test is usually 100
to 200 psi greater than pc.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Step-Down Tests. Step-down tests are usually pumped


in order to differentiate between perforation-dominated
and tortuosity-dominated near-wellbore friction, as
documented by Cleary et al. (1993) (see Section 66.2). The test starts with the fracture open. This means
that significant pumping has to be performed before
the step-down test can commence. Often, the stepdown test is done as the second half of a combined
step-up and step-down test. Sometimes, a step-down
test is performed at the end of a minifrac (this is not
recommended, however, because the step-down can
obscure both the pressure decline and any assessment
of the magnitude of pnear-wellbore calculated from the
difference between piw and pISI).
Performing a step-down test is radically different
from performing a step-up test. It is important that
the test is performed quickly, because the fracture must
remain open throughout the test. Start at fracturing rates
(ideally 15 to 20 bpm) with a significant volume already
pumped into the fracture (at least 5 minutes pumping
at fracturing rates). Step down rapidly in four or five
approximately equal rate steps, spending no longer than
15 seconds at each step. Then plot BHTP against slurry
rate in a similar fashion to the step-up test. Figure 410 shows the results of two step-down tests performed
on the same well. The first test illustrates perforationdominated NWBF, with the characteristic concave curve.
As a result of the test, the operator decided to re-perforate
the interval and perform a second step-down test. The
results of the second test display the characteristic convex
shape of tortuosity-dominated NWBF. However, note
the dramatic decrease in BHTP as a result of the reperforating this clearly illustrates that the decision to
re-perforate was a good one.

Gauge BHTP, psi

10,200
Step-Down Test 1
(Perforation Dominated)

9800

9400
Step-Down Test 2
(Tortuosity Dominated)

9000

8600

10

Slurry Rate, bpm

Figure 4-10 Results of two step-down tests performed


on the same interval, before and after re-perforating

11

Perforation-dominated near-wellbore friction


is easy to quantify. From Eq. 4-2 we can see that
ppf q2 and so a rapid increase in pressure with
increasing rate is observed. However, if the number
of open perforations taking fluid changes (opening of
blocked perforations) or if the perforation diameter
increases (through erosion of blocking material),
the pressure will rise more slowly.
For tortuosity-dominated near-wellbore friction,
the relationship between pressure and rate is more
complex. Often this relationship is approximated
to ptort q, although in reality the relationship
is quite a bit more complex, as there are several
possible underlying causes of tortuosity (indeed,
Wright et al., 1996, suggested that ptort q).
Whatever the cause, it is clear that ptort will
rise more slowly than q. This is because as the
pump rate increases, so does the fluid pressure
due to viscous friction effects within restricted
flow channels. However, the geometry of these
channels is pressure dependent the higher
the pressure, the wider they get (consequently,
one of the accepted approaches to dealing
with tortuosity is simply to pump as fast as
possible). Therefore, friction effects, and hence
the pressure upstream of the tortuosity, increase
more slowly than the slurry rate.
Things to remember when conducting a stepdown test:
Make sure the fracture is open throughout the
test and is of significant size. The test is trying to
measure the pressure response of the tortuosity. If
the fracture is small, significant pressure changes
will be generated simply by the varying fracture
geometry; the larger the open fracture is, the less
significant these become.
If the results from a step-down test are to be
used in the near-wellbore friction pressure tables
included in many modern fracture simulators,
then the step-down test has to be conducted
with the same fracturing fluid that is planned for
the main treatment. Otherwise the magnitude
of the near-wellbore pressure response which
is viscosity-dependent will be meaningless.
If these tables are not to be used, then any
known fluid can be pumped.

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Modern Fracturing

in terms of length, height and possibly width. However,


this analysis is somewhat qualitative. To further increase
the accuracy of the fracture geometry it is necessary to
perform a pressure match (see Section 4-2.2.2). This
process involves the input of selected treatment data (rate
and proppant concentration) into the fracture simulator
model and comparing the predicted net pressure response
with the actual net pressure response. Key variables in
the simulator (usually stress, Youngs modulus, fracture
toughness and fluid leakoff) are adjusted until the
predicted pressure response matches the actual pressure
response. The problems associated with this process are
discussed in detail in Section 4-2.2.2. However, the
pressure match does enable a much more quantitative
assessment of the fracture geometry.
6000

Pressure, psi

5000
Frature
Geometry

4000

Slurry Rate

3000
2000

4-2.1.9 Minifracs

Minifrac Data During Pumping. As previously


discussed (see Section 4-2.1.1), the shape and gradient
of the pressure-against-time plot tells us a great deal
about the fracture itself. This is illustrated in Fig. 4-11.
Nolte-Smith analysis (see Section 4-2.1.7) can be use to
obtain a general idea of how the fracture is propagating

40

Fluid Leakoff, Closure


Pressure, Reservoir
Pressure and Permeability

10

15

20

25

30
20
10

Tortuosity Proppant
Concentration

1000

The purpose of the minifrac is to provide the best


possible information about the formation, prior to
pumping the actual treatment.
The minifrac is designed to be as close as possible to
the actual treatment, without pumping any significant
volumes of proppant. The minifrac should be pumped
using the anticipated treatment fluid, at the anticipated
rate. It should also be of sufficient volume to contact all
the formations that the estimated main treatment design
is anticipated to contact. A well planned and executed
minifrac can provide data on fracture geometry, rock
mechanical properties and fluid leakoff information
that is vital to the success of the main treatment. Below
is a summary of the process involved in minifrac analysis
see Martin (2005) for a more detailed discussion.

50

Near-Wellbore
Friction

Gauge BHTP

30

35

40

45

50

Elapsed Time, mins

Rate, bpm, and Proppant Concentration, ppa

Step down as fast as possible, as described above. It is


important that the geometry of the fracture behind
the tortuosity not change significantly during the
step-down. If the steps take too long, the fracture will
start to get smaller and may even close.
Monitor the pressure decline after the last step and the
pumps have been shut down. If the test is performed
correctly, the fracture will still be open at the end of
the step-down, and it may be possible to identify
fracture closure from the decline curve.
Some simulators are capable of importing the data
and producing a plot of p against q (i.e., the
change in BHTP against the change in slurry rate).
Consequently, this is a direct plot of NWBF against
rate. Usually, such plots can back out the theoretical
perforation friction and produce a calculated ptort.
The closer this calculated curve is to the actual
curve, the more the MWBF is dominated by
tortuosity and vice versa. Of course, this calculation
is not to be trusted if the diameter and/or number
of perforations are unreliable.

Figure 4-11 Example minifrac job plot, illustrating the


significant parameters (italics) that can be derived from its
analysis

Figure 4-11 also illustrates a proppant slug. This


is a test to see how aggressive any tortuosity is; simply
measuring the quantity of the pressure drop is not
sufficient. The near-wellbore region needs to be tested
for its ability to transmit proppant. The proppant slug
is designed to do this. It is a very short stage of proppant
usually less than 1000 lbs. As the slug passes into the
fracture, the response of the BHTP is observed. Ideally,
no pressure rise is seen, indicating that the near-wellbore
flow channels have adequate width. However, if tortuosity
is significant, a pressure rise will be observed. In the
worst cases, the well will screen out with the proppant
slug. While this may seem to be a disaster, it has in fact
prevented a premature screenout during the treatment,
after pumping a wellbore full of proppant. Note also that
it is common practice to pump a series of proppant slugs
at increasing concentrations, in order to further test the
response of the near-wellbore region.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Minifrac Pressure Decline\Up to Fracture


Closure. The analysis of the pressure decline after the
end of pumping is an important part of the minifrac
analysis process. Analyzing the data up to fracture
closure will provide the following information, as
illustrated in Fig.4-12:
5200

16

Closure Pressure
Instantaneous Shut-In
Pressure (ISIP)

4900

Slurry Rate

4800
4700

Gauge BHTP

4
0

24

25

26

27

28

29

30

31

32

33

34

Elapsed Time, mins

Figure 4-12 Example minifrac pressure decline,


illustrating the parameters (italics) that can be derived
from its analysis

5100

80

Fracture Closure

5050 Pressure Decline

40

5000

0
Derivative

4950

-40

4900

-80

Derivative dp/dt0.5, psi/mins0.5

1. Quantitative assessment of near-wellbore friction,


from the difference between pinj (BHTP) and pISI
(ISIP). Note that this may not be constant, as
perforations can increase in diameter (erosion) and
number (opening of blocked perforations), while
tortuosity is a dynamic phenomenon, changing
with pressure, rate, time and viscosity.
2. ISIP. At shutdown, when all friction goes to
zero, pISI = pf the pressure of the fluid inside
the fracture. This is needed for the calculation
of net pressure.
3. Fracture closure. Closure pressure is the pressure
on the decline plot at the point when the fracture
closes. This is usually marked by a change in
gradient, indicating a change from Darcy linear
flow through the fracture faces to Darcy radial
flow from the wellbore. Sometimes this change in
gradient can be hard to spot, and there is a wide
variety of different plots and methods available to
help with this process (see below).
4. Net pressure. This is the difference between pISI
and pc.
5. Fluid leakoff. After the closure pressure has been
identified, the time taken for the fracture to close
can be measured. Analysis during pumping will
give the fracture geometry and, hence, area. The

One method to determine fracture closure is to


produce a plot of BHTP against the square root of time.
Because fluid loss through the fracture face is dependent
upon the square root of time, in theory when the pressure
data is plotted against t, there should be a straight line
while the fracture is open and a curve after it has closed.
This works well for pressure-independent fluid loss.
However, when the fluid loss is dependent upon pressure,
the fluid loss rate will decrease as the pressure declines,
making the relationship much more complex.
Because finding fracture closure is all about finding
the point on the decline curve where the gradient changes,
it makes sense to plot the gradient (or derivative) itself at
the same time. Often, it is easier to spot the change in
gradient from the derivative plot than from the decline
itself. Figure 4-13 shows the pressure decline from Fig.
4-12 on a square root time plot, complete with derivative
and identification of closure pressure.

Gauge BHTP, psi

12

5000

Rate, bpm

Pressure, psi

20

Bottomhole Treating Pressure (BHTP)


Total Near-Wellbore Friction

5100

fracture area and closure time will yield the leakoff


rate and, hence, the leakoff coefficient. Note that
this is an iterative process because leakoff also plays
a significant role in the shape of the pressure plot
during pumping. The pressure match also needs
to match the before-closure pressure decline and
the pressure response during pumping. Often, it is
easiest to match the pressure decline first and then
adjust to match the pressure while pumping.

4850
0

0.3

0.6

0.9

1.2

1.5

1.8

2.1

2.4

2.7

Square Root of Time Since ISIP, mins0.5

Figure 4-13 Example minifrac pressure decline square


root time plot, showing derivative and fracture closure

Nolte G-Function Analysis. Nolte (1979, 1986a)


developed a method for analyzing minifrac pressure
declines that has direct application to the three 2-D

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Modern Fracturing

3/ 2

4 / 3(1 + t D ) t D3 / 2

, (4-17)
g

t
=
(
)

D
1 / 2
1
1/ 2
(1 + t D ) sin (1 + t D ) + t D

with
t t

i
,
t D =

(4-18)

ti

where t is the time since he start of fluid


injection and ti is the injection time. The upper
part of Eq. 4-17 represents the upper boundary,
and the lower part represents the lower boundary.
In practice, to find the actual value of g(tD),
both values are calculated, and an extrapolation
is made based on the power law exponent of the
fracturing fluid (n) and the fracture geometry
(radial, PKN or KGD). (Note: When calculating
from the lower boundary, the trigonometric function
is in radians, not degrees.)

The actual value of used for the extrapolation is


dependent upon the fluid efficiency and n. Values
tend to be almost always in the region of 0.5 to 0.7;
in practice 0.6 is often used. Also, given that n is
often variable, a quicker method is just to take the
average of the upper and lower expressions for g(tD).
As shown in Fig. 4-14, as tD increases, the difference
between the upper and lower boundaries becomes
smaller and eventually becomes negligible compared
to the accuracy of the rest of the system.
Nolte G time is then a function of tD such that:
G (t D ) = g (t D ) g (t D = 0).

(4-20)

Note that for = 1 and = 0.5, g(tD = 0) is equal to 4/3


and /2 respectively.
A typical plot of a pressure decline against Nolte G
time is shown below in Fig. 4-15.

Additional Fracture Extension

BHTP

frac models (KGD, PKN and radial see Section 46.2.2). This analysis is based on the use the G function
to help identify fracture closure and, from this, the
fluid leakoff and fracture geometry.
Nolte derived the following relationships for the
decline curve:

Fracture Closure

Ideal ISIP

5
Lower (B  0.5, g (%t D )  (1 %t D ) sin -1 (1 %t D )-1/ 2 %t D1/ 2 )

Gc

g(tD)

3
2

g (%t D  0)  Q / 2

g (%t D  0)  4 / 3

Figure 4-15 Idealized Nolte G time pressure decline plot.


The match pressure is the gradient of the straight line
section in the middle of the decline before closure.

Upper (B  1, g (%t D )  4 / 3[(1 %t D )3 / 2 - %t D 3 / 2 ])

0
0.01

0.1

tD

10

Figure 4-14 Graph showing the variation of g(tD) with tD


for Nolte analysis

The extrapolation is performed between two


values of the variable . At the lower boundary, =
0.5 and at the upper boundary = 1. The actual value
for is given as:

(2n '+ 2) / (2n '+ 3) : PKN


= (n '+ 1) / (n '+ 2) : KGD
(4n '+ 4) / (3n '+ 6) : Radiaal.

G (tD)

(4-19)

Figure 4-15 illustrates three important points. First,


the ISIP recorded using field data may be artificially
high, due to the effects of fracture storage and fluid
friction. Second, there is a period of constant gradient
before the fracture closes, which is often referred to as the
match pressure (pm) and has pressure units (as G time is
dimensionless). This is an important parameter in Noltes
minifrac pressure decline analysis. Finally, closure occurs
when the decline pressure deviates from this constant
gradient. At this point G(tD) = Gc.
It should be noted that if the closure time equals the
pump time, then Gc = 1.
From the g(tD) time at closure [ = g(tcD)], the fluid
efficiency can be determined as follows:

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

g (tcD ) g (t D = 0) 1 v prop
,

1 v prop /

g (tcD )

(4-21)

where vprop is the fraction of the total fracture volume


occupied by proppant. For a minifrac, vprop will be equal
to zero. Therefore:
g t g t = 0

g (tcD )

( cD ) ( D )
=

.

Finally, Nolte G time can be used to find the


fracture dimensions:

(1 )Vi
,
2 g (t D = 0) CL rp ti

Af =

(4-26)

where Af is the area of one fracture wing. Given that for


the 2-D models:

(4-22)

(4-27)

This can be simplified to:


G
2 + Gc

(4-23)

which is a quick and easy method for determining fluid


efficiency. Most modern real-time data monitoring
systems can plot G function in real time, so if the
closure pressure can be determined, the fluid efficiency
can be easily calculated from Eq. 4-23.
The fluid loss coefficient (constant, pressure
independent) can be calculated as:

p
CL = m s X ,
(4-24)
rp ti E '

where pm is the match pressure (see Fig. 4-15), s a


geometry-dependent factor (see Eq. 4-25, below), rp is
the ratio of fracture area in permeable formation over
total fracture area (i.e., net to gross area ratio for the
fracture), E is the plane strain modulus (see Section
4-3.1.3) and X is a factor dependent upon which
geometry model is being used (see Section 4-6.2.2),
such that for KGD, X = 2xf, for PKN, X = hf and for
radial, X = (32Rf /32), where Rf is the fracture radius
for the radial fracture model.
0.9

(3

/ 32)

KGD
Radial

( D ) Lp i

wave =
.
2 g t = 0 C r

(1 )

(4-28)

When using Nolte analysis, remember


that it is based on 2-D fracture geometry. An
example of Nolte G function analysis can be found
in Martin (2005).
4-2.2 The Role of Advanced Technology
in Design, Execution and Evaluation
Hydraulic fracturing is a technology-driven process.
Fluid systems, proppants, equipment, simulators and
fracturing theory are all in state of constant update,
and staying up to date with the latest and greatest
can often become a time-consuming process. The
following list illustrates some of the major advances
in fracturing over the last 15 years.
4-2.2.1 Recent Advances and Breakthroughs

(2n '+ 2) / (2n '+ 3 + a ) PKN


s

then the fracture length or fracture radius


can be easily found. Average fracture width can also
be obtained:

(4-25)

where n is the power law exponent for the fluid and


a is a variable describing how constant the viscosity of
the frac fluid is in the fracture, such that for a constant
viscosity, a = 1 and for a falling viscosity a < 1. Usually,
a is assumed to be 1.
Thus, not only is Nolte G time a useful tool for
finding the ideal ISIP and the closure pressure, it can
also be used to find fluid efficiency and fluid leakoff
(assuming a 2-D fracture geometry).

Advances in Fluids Tecchnology.


Major
advances in fracturing fluid technology have been
made over the past 15 years or so. This has been
driven by a growing recognition of the following
fluid issues: proppant transport; the potential for
damage to the proppant pack from fluid residues;
and reservoir compatibility, for high-permeability
reservoirs where fracture-face damage is important
and for low-permeability reservoirs with respect to
the prevention of fluid retention issues. Chapter 7
covers fluid technology in detail.

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Modern Fracturing

Proppant transport has become increasingly


recognized as a major function of the fracturing fluid
(see Section 7-2.2), thanks to the pioneering work of the
Stim-Lab Rheology and Proppant Transport Consortium.
The phenomena of convection and settling have been
identified, quantified and built into fracturing simulators
(a good summary of this work was presented by Clark
in 2006). In addition, the important role played by the
fluids proppant transport characteristics in mitigating
the effects of tortuosity has also been recognized. Fluid
systems and treatments are now designed to account for
these factors, and treatment results have reflected this.
The pioneering work performed by another of
the Stim-Lab consortia, the Proppant Conductivity
Consortium, led to a general recognition that the damage
caused by fracturing fluids to proppant packs was far
worse than had been previously realized (see Section
7-6.2). This in turn led to the advent of low-polymerloading fluids and to the increasing use of polymerfree fracturing fluid technology (such as viscoelastic
surfactant-based fluids and brine systems incorporating
neutral-density proppants). Today, understanding the
regained permeability of the proppant pack is a key part of
the fracture design process.
A more widespread understanding of issues relating
to the effects of fluid imbibition, capilliary pressures
and immobile fluid blocks, as presented by Bennion
et al. (1996), has significantly improved the ability of
engineers to stimulate low-permeability formations.
The use of low-surface-tension surfactants, methanol
and micro-emulsion additives have proved crucial
in developing many tight gas reservoirs. In addition,
CO2-based systems (both as foams and as 100% CO2
systems) have become increasingly popular to both
reduce liquid content and increase fluid recovery. See
Section 7-4.4 for more details.
Advances in Proppant Technology. Advances in
understanding how proppant characteristics can affect
post-treatment production have taken a major step
forward (see Chapter 8). In a seminal paper, Vincent et
al. (1999) detailed how the effects of non-Darcy flow
(see Sections 2-4.1 and 8-7.3) and multi-phase flow
(see Section 8-7.4) could significantly affect the effective
permeability of the proppant, further reducing the
conductivity of the fracture.

Resin-coated proppants have become increasingly


popular for a significant number of treatments (see
Section 8-4). Resin coatings come in two types: those
designed to increase proppant (or more usually frac
sand) conductivity by reducing point loading and the
production of fines; and those designed to prevent
proppant flowback by physically adhering the grains
together. Often, both of these effects are combined. As
technology progresses, the performance of these coatings
continues to improve. Additionally, in many cases the
problems associated with resin-contaminated frac fluids
have been completely resolved.
The use of low- and neutral-density proppants
(see Section 8-11.1) has become increasingly common
(Rickards et al., 2003). Currently, the full potential
of these products has yet to be realized in the field.
Ultimately, they have the capability to completely
revolutionize the way treatments are performed, as
it will no longer be necessary to use highly viscous
fracturing fluids, nor to use complex blending
equipment to add proppant on the fly. Instead,
proppant will be pre-mixed into brine carrier fluids
with relatively simple blending equipment.
Proppant flowback is another area that has received
considerable attention, led once again by another
of Stim-Labs consortia, the Proppant Flowback
Consortium (see Sections 8-10 and 8-11.2). Various
techniques have been used in the field, including meshcreating micro-fibers (Card et al., 1995), deformable
particles (Rickards et al., 1998) and surface coatings
added on the fly (Nguyen et al., 1998). In addition, Ely
et al. (1990) demonstrated that controlled flowback of
fracturing fluid immediately after the treatment could
help to stabilize the near-wellbore region of the fracture
and prevent proppant flowback.
Understanding Fracture Tip Effects. It had long been
recognized that the process of physically tearing the rock
apart at the fracture tip was consuming more energy
than was predicted by classical linear elastic fracture
mechanics (Griffith, 1921), as detailed in Section 43.4. Four different and not mutually exclusive theories
have been put forward to explain this phenomenon.
The first theory concerns the fluid lag effect, in which
viscous and surface tension effects prevent the fracturing
fluid (and hence the net pressure) from penetrating all

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

the way into the very narrow fracture tip (Jeffrey, 1989).
This acts to reduce the width at the fracture tip and has
the effect of increasing the apparent fracture toughness.
The second theory, proposed by Johnson and Cleary in
1991, involves non-linear elastic deformation of the rock
around the fracture tip, producing a pinching effect. This
is commonly referred to as dilatancy. The third theory
involves the production of a damaged zone (also referred
to as the process zone) ahead of the fracture, in which
micro-fractures form, absorbing additional energy (Yew
and Liu, 1993, and Valk and Economides, 1993). The
final theory concerns the plastic deformation of the
formation in a region around the fracture tip. Although
rocks are traditionally considered brittle materials, under
conditions of tri-axial loading they can deform and flow
plastically, absorbing significant quantities of energy
(Martin, 2000, and van Dam et al., 2000).
Each of these theories is based on established
principles, often taken from more general theories
developed outside the oil industry. There is no doubt
that these effects occur. Possibly the real answer to
understanding tip effects lies in understanding how
significant each effect is in any given situation.
Unified Fracture Design. As previous discussed, lowpermeability formations require long, thin fractures,
while high-permeability formations require short, wide
fractures. Consequently there has always been a problem
deciding the right combination of length and width for
any fracture in a formation that falls between these two
extremes. This conundrum was solved by Economides
et al. in 2002, in introducing the concept of Proppant
Number and Unified Fracture Design. This theory states
that for a ratio of formation and proppant permeability,
there is a specific ratio of propped length and propped
width that will produce the maximum possible
production increase. This theory is dealt with in more
detail in Section 4-5.
Microseismic and Tiltmeters. A significant step forward
in understanding fracture geometry and azimuth has
been made by the use of microseismic and tiltmeter
measurements, allowing the actual geometry of the
fracture to be mapped (Cipolla and Wright, 2000).
Microseismic involves the use of surface and downhole
seismometers to measure small seismic events produced

by the propagation of the fracture or fractures, which


are assumed to occur around the fracture tip. If these
seismometers are placed effectively in 3-D space around
the well to be fractured, the position of each microseismic
event can be mapped, allowing real-time measurement
of fracture geometry. Tiltmeters are placed on the surface
and downhole to measure minute deflections in the
earth, caused by the fracture. Tiltmeters are used mainly
for obtaining fracture azimuth. Section 6-8 has a more
detailed discussion of these subjects.
Perforating for Fracturing. Of all the things that can
be controlled by the engineer, the perforations probably
have the most significant single influence on the success of
the treatment (Behrman and Nolte, 1999, and Pongratz
et al., 2007). When used effectively for fracturing, they
can be used to control the point of fracture initiation.
Indeed, as most propped fractures will connect to the
wellbore through fewer than 20 perforations, in lowpermeability formations there is little need to perforate
the rest of the net height (other than for reservoir
evaluation purposes). However, in high-permeability
gas formations, the fracture may become choked due to
turbulence effects, and it may be necessary to perforate
longer intervals, if these will connect to the fracture
during proppant placement.
Fracturing Equipment. To most people involved in
the fracturing process, the most obvious advances in
technology have been to the equipment used to perform
fracturing operations. Since the early 1990s, the fracturing
industry has fully embraced the rapid advances made in
computerized control, measurement and display systems
(see Section 9-5). These have produced significant
operational and safety advantages. Fracturing pumps are
no longer controlled by individual operators positioned on
or by the pumps. Instead, a single remote panel is placed
inside the control cabin or vehicle, allowing the pumps to
be run by a single operator, under the direct supervision
of the frac supervisor. Not only does this significantly
improve communication and reduce complexity, it also
has a significant safety advantage, dramatically reducing
the number of personnel exposed to the high-pressure
lines. In addition, the electronic pump controls allow
more efficient operation of the equipment, prevent
damage to the equipment during equipment failure (e.g.,

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Remote Data Transmission. With the advent of modern


communications technology, it is no longer necessary
for the engineer to be on location during the treatment.
Treatment data can be transmitted in real time from
any location to any location, often accompanied by a
voice link. The latest version of this technology uses the
Internet. The treatment is broadcast real-time on the
Web, with each control van or cabin having its own
Web address. Anyone with the job-specific password
can log on and view the treatment. This means the
treatments can be monitored using standard PCs, with
no specialized software, from anywhere in the world
with a high-speed internet connection.
Remote data transmission has its greatest use in remote
locations, especially offshore. It is an enabling technology
because it makes it easier for engineers to treat wells.
4-2.2.2 Pressure Matching

Pressure matching is part science and part art. In order


to perform a quick and efficient pressure match, it is
essential to have a good knowledge of the fracturing
process, an understanding of the various rock mechanical
properties, an understanding of fracture mechanics and,
ideally, a reasonable idea of how the fracture simulator

works. In spite of this need for an understanding of the


physics behind the fracturing process and the fracture
simulation, there is still an art to pressure matching.
Some have a feeling for this process, and some do not.
Pressure matching is a very powerful tool that allows
the engineer to tune the fracture simulator to the
formation. The idea is that once the simulator has been
tuned, further fracture simulations can be performed
with a high degree of accuracy.
The Process of Pressure Matching. Pressure matching
is all about making the simulator predict the same
pressure response as the reaction actually produced by
the formation (see Fig. 4-16).
After
Net Pressure

Before
Net Pressure

automatic engine shut-downs when oil pressure is lost)


and allow the use of automatic, adjustable, over-pressure
quick-to-neutral shut-downs.
In general, fracturing pumps have become larger,
as it became apparent that efficiency was gained by
using a smaller number of larger pumps. Because
equipment reliability has increased as well, the
effects of losing a pump during the treatment have
not been significantly affected.
Blending equipment has also seen a dramatic
advance. Today, almost all frac blenders are fully processcontrolled. This means that all mixing and blending
operations are run by computer-controlled positive
feedback systems. These adjust additive rates (liquids,
powders and proppant) automatically, significantly
reducing the complexity of the treatment for the blender
operator. The job is pre-programmed into the equipment,
and under most circumstances the blender will operate
automatically during the treatment. Manual overrides
usually allow the rate adjustments if necessary.

Job Time
Actual Net Pressure

Job Time
Calculated Net Pressure

Figure 4-16 Pressure matching: variables in the simulator


are adjusted to make the calculated net pressure match
the actual net pressure

In Fig. 4-16, before the pressure match (left) the


net pressure predicted by the fracture simulator does
not match the actual net pressure in any way. After the
pressure match has been performed (right) the computers
pressure response prediction is very similar to that of
the actual treatment. Now, according to the theory,
the simulator has been tuned to the formation. This
allows the frac engineer to input any desired treatment
schedule, and the simulator will be able to predict the
fracture geometry with a reasonable degree of precision.
There is no doubt that the advent of pressure
matching has greatly improved the success rate and
effectiveness of hydraulic fracturing. Modern fracture
simulators equipped with this facility have gradually
made the process increasingly user-friendly, helping
to reduce the black art associated with fracture
engineering, as more and more engineers feel capable
of designing a fracture treatment.
However, there are some definite limitations to this
process:

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Garbage In = Garbage Out. The computer model


of the formation generated by this process is only as
good as the data used to create it. Poor data on items
such as permeability, net height, fluid properties (both
formation and fracturing fluids) and perforations can
make an otherwise perfect pressure match almost
irrelevant. Another major source of errors is the use of
surface pressure data to calculate BHTP. In order to
calculate BHTP, the model first needs to calculate the
fluid friction pressure, something that is notoriously
difficult to do for a crosslinking fluid. Variations in
fracturing fluid properties (such as those caused by
problems with liquid additive systems or varying gel
properties) can also be very difficult to account for.
Therefore, the engineer should do everything possible
to acquire reliable bottomhole pressure data, such as
that from a gauge or dead string.
No Unique Solution. The process of pressure
matching involves adjusting four major variables
(Youngs modulus, stress, fracture toughness and
leakoff) and many other minor variables for each
rock strata affected by the fracture, until the pressure
response predicted by the model matches the actual
pressure response of the formation. This means that
the engineer may have 30 or 40 variables available
for adjustment. It is therefore quite possible for
two engineers to get good pressure matches with
significantly different sets of variables.
The Fracture Model. The results of the pressure match
are only as good as the fracture model itself. Modern
fracture simulators are tremendously advanced
the product of more than 20 years of innovation,
experimentation and inspiration. However, different
fracture simulators will still predict different fracture
geometries for the same input data. Which one
is right? This is difficult to say and the subject of
considerable debate in the fracturing industry. The
popular conception is that one fracture simulator is
good for a certain type of formation, while another is
good for a different type. The debate continues.
The Four Main Variables. There are four main variables
that the engineer should be adjusting in order to achieve
the pressure match that is to say, four main variables

in each formation affected by the fracture. These variables


are Youngs modulus, stress, fracture toughness and fluid
leakoff.So even for the most basic formation lithology,
the engineer will have to be able to track of a minimum
of 12 variables (four each in the zone of interest and the
formations above and below).
Of course, each fracture simulator comes complete
with a plethora of variables the user can adjust. In
fact there are so many that an engineer could vary
several hundred parameters for a complex reservoir
with several rock strata. This is for fracture simulator
and rock mechanical experts only. Unless there is a
really good reason, the engineer is advised to stick to
the four main variables.
Youngs Modulus, E. In order for the fracture to
propagate it must obtain width, to a greater or lesser
extent. In order to do this, the rock on either side of the
fracture has to be displaced. As discussed in Section 4-3.4,
Youngs modulus defines how much energy is required to
accomplish this displacement, which is a classic linear
elastic fracture mechanics concept. Rocks with a large
Youngs modulus will require a lot of energy (i.e., net
pressure) to displace. In these formations, fractures tend
to be relatively narrow, and the rock is referred to as
hard. Similarly, rocks with a small Youngs modulus
require relatively little energy to produce width. In these
formations, fractures tend to be relatively wide, and the
rock is referred to as soft.
A large Youngs modulus makes it harder for
the fracturing fluid to produce width. This will
make the fracture thinner, higher and longer. A
small Youngs modulus has the opposite effects.
Increasing E only in the perforated interval will have
the effect of forcing the fracture out of the zone of
interest i.e., increasing fracture height. A decrease
in E has the opposite effect.
In-Situ Stress, h. In-situ stress (often referred
to as confining stress and, in the vast majority of
cases, horizontal stress) is the stress induced in the
formation by the overburden and any tectonic activity.
Put simply, it is pre-loading on the formation, the
stress that has to be overcome (or pressure that has
to be applied) in order to actually start pushing the
formation apart. The actual bottomhole fracturing

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Modern Fracturing

pressure is the pressure required to overcome these insitu stresses, plus the pressure required to propagate
the fracture (as a consequence of fracture toughness)
and the pressure required to produce width.
In the pressure matching process, increasing h
reduces net pressure (for a fixed BHTP). This means that
the fracturing fluid has less energy available to fracture
the formation, and so the width, height and length of the
fracture decrease. This in turn means that the volume of
the fracture has decreased. However, the same volume of
fluid has been pumped into the formation, so an increase
in h also has the effect of increasing leakoff rate and
decreasing fracture efficiency. The opposite effect applies
for a decrease in in-situ stresses.
Fracture Toughness, K1c. Strictly speaking, K1c is the
critical stress intensity factor for failure mode 1 (see
Section 4-3.4 and more specifically fig. 4-30). However,
it is commonly referred to as the fracture toughness and
is a measure of how much energy it takes to propagate
a fracture tip through a given material. In hydraulic
fracturing, where the energy needed to propagate the
fracture comes in the form of fluid pressure, fracture
toughness is that portion of the available energy required
to physically split the rock apart at the fracture tip.
Note that some fracture models have moved away
from the concept of fracture toughness and instead
model nonlinear elastic effects at the fracture tip as being
more significant. In such models, variations in Youngs
modulus and in-situ stresses are far more significant than
variations in fracture toughness.
Fluid Leakoff Rate, qL. The fluid leakoff rate can be
controlled by altering a number of variables, depending
upon the fracture simulator being used, and the fluid
leakoff model being employed:
Pressure differential (fracturing fluid pressure minus
pore pressure)
Formation permeability
Formation porosity
Formation compressibility
Formation fluid viscosity
Fracturing fluid filtrate viscosity
Fracturing fluid wall-building coefficient
Spurt loss

Fluid leakoff is a loss of energy from the fracturing


fluid: The total energy available for propagating the
fracture is equal to the net pressure multiplied by
the fracture volume. High leakoff means low fracture
volume, and vice versa. Therefore, an increase in fluid
leakoff will tend to decrease width, height and length.
The opposite applies for a decrease in leakoff.
The basic effect of each of these variables
when applied to a fracture in a single formation is
summarized in Table 4-3.
Table 4-3 effects of increasing each of the Four Main
Pressure Matching Variables. (Note that these are the
overall effects when the change is taken in isolation (i.e.,
no other changes take place). It also assumes that the
fracture is unaffected by boundary layers above and
below.)
Variable

Effect of an Increase in Selected Variable


Width

Net
Pressure

Increase

Increase

Increase

Decrease

Increase

In-Situ
Stress,

Decrease Decrease

Decrease

Decrease

Fluid Leakoff
Rate, qL

Decrease Decrease

Decrease

Decrease

Height

Length

Fracture
Decrease Decrease
Toughness, K1c
Youngs
Modulus, E

Increase

Table 4-3 should be used with caution because


it applies only when the fracture is confined within
a single formation. If the fracture propagates
into separate formations above and/or below the
productive interval, then an increase in (for instance)
fracture toughness will make it harder for the fracture
to propagate through the main formation, forcing
the fracture up and down. So, in this instance, an
isolated increase in a property in just one formation
can actually increase the fracture height.
The Effect of Poissons Ratio. The Poissons ratio is
at the same time important and largely irrelevant to
pressure matching. It is important because it has a
major effect on defining the horizontal stresses in a
formation. However, in most cases, the engineer will
be determining these stresses from pressure data, not
from the Poissons ratio data. In most fracture models,
the Poissons ratio is used in the form (1 - 2) to modify

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

the Youngs modulus (i.e., E/(1 - 2) the plane strain


modulus, see Section 4-3.1.3). This means that a large
change in the Poissons ratio, say from 0.25 to 0.35,
will only change (1 - 2) from 0.9375 to 0.8775 (i.e.,
a 40% increase in produces only a 6.4% decrease in
(1 - 2). Therefore, it is not worth varying the Poissons
ratio during a pressure match.
4-2.2.3 Getting Closer
to Understanding Fracture Geometry

Exactly how well do we understand fracture geometry?


Todays simulators are the products of 30 years of
innovation, invention and discovery, from some of the
most able minds in the industry. However, we must ask
ourselves just how reliable these models are.
The first thing we must consider is the model
itself. Currently there are four main models in use
three simulators described as lumped-parameter 3D models and one fully 3-D grid-based model. Feed
the same input data into each model, and they will
produce dramatically different results. So which one
is correct? This is an area of considerable debate and
controversy in the industry.
Fortunately, two methods that are independent of
the fracture simulators can be used to remove a lot of the
uncertainty associated with modeling. The first method
uses microseismic measurements to produce an estimate
of fracture height and length (as outlined in Section 42.2.1 and discussed in detail in Section 6-8). The second
method is to use post-treatment pressure transient
analysis (see Section 3-7) to evaluate fracture dimensions
(Agarwal, 1980; Economides and Nolte, 1987; Arihara et
al., 1996; and Cipolla and Meyerhofer, 2001).
4-2.2.4 Real-Time Analysis

Some fracture simulators have a facility that enables


fracture modeling in real-time. This is a very
powerful tool that under the right conditions can
enable the engineer to redesign the main treatment
on-the-fly, as it is pumped.
The modeling computer is set up to receive data
from either the data processing computer or the
engineers computer. The user then runs the fracture
model, selecting the real-time data input option. The

user enters the relevant formation data and treatment


schedule, which can be loaded from a previously created
data file. The treatment starts, and the computer starts
to collect the data. As the treatment progresses, the
simulator models the created fracture. The model will take
fluid, proppant, formation and wellbore characteristics
from the input model, and the pump rate, pressure and
proppant concentration from the real-time data. Using
this data, the simulator will model the fracture that has
already been created, constantly updating as more data is
collected. This enables two operations:
The engineer can perform a pressure match with the
data that has already been collected by the simulator,
until the net pressure predicted by the computer
matches up with the actual net pressure.
The engineer can instruct the simulator to run the
job until completion, predicting the characteristics
of the fracture based on the ongoing pressure match.
For the treatment schedule, the simulator will use
the actual treatment data as far as possible, and then
project forward until the end of the job using the
remaining input treatment schedule. This allows
the engineer to predict the fracture characteristics
based on the most accurate data possible. This
process can be taken one step further: The engineer
can alter the remaining treatment schedule and
predict the fracture characteristics based on this
revised schedule. Thus the engineer can redesign
the treatment schedule on-the-fly.
Limitations of Real-Time Modeling. The ability to
redesign on the fly, while usually not very popular
with the frac crew, is a very powerful tool, with the
following caveats:
Do not over-react to short-term trends. All fracture
simulators treat formations as homogenous
materials with uniform rock mechanical properties
throughout. In reality this is usually not the case.
The fracture is constantly propagating through rock
with varying properties, producing unpredictable
variations in the net pressure plot. The engineer
needs to find an average value for each of these
properties, such that the simulators predicted net
pressure curve follows the trend (an average value)
of the job plot, but does not necessarily follow every
minute rise and fall in pressure.

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The engineer must be able to react quickly when


a short-term trend has become a long-term trend.
When this happens, its time to start adjusting
formation properties.
Real-time modeling is only effective on long
treatments, where the engineer has time to spot
long-term trends, adjust the model and still be
able to make change the treatment schedule
in time for the changes to have some effect. If
the job is too short, the crew can be pumping
the displacement before the engineer has
finished the pressure match.
The problem above is exacerbated if the wellbore
volume represents a significant part of the treatment.
If this is the case, the treatment can be close to
displacement before the proppant has even passed
into the fracture. In such cases, there is little point
in modeling the fracture real-time.
4-2.3 From Fracturing a Single Vertical Well
to Complex Well-Fracture Architecture
As it was discussed in Section 2-5.3, the industry
moves away from the single vertical hole paradigm
and develops towards complex well-fracture
configurations. It is now common practice to place
multiple fractures into one wellbore (vertical or
horizontal) or even to combine the draining capacity
of multiple holes and multiple fractures. A draining
system can be still characterized by its overall
productivity, and that is how it should be analyzed
and optimized. In Section 4-6 we will present a
significant tool for such analysis.

4-3 Rock Mechanical Characteristics


4-3.1 Basic Definitions

Note that this is very similar to the formula for


calculating pressure. Stress and pressure have the
same units and are essentially the same thing
stored energy. The main difference between the
two is that in liquids and gases, the material will
flow away from an applied force until the force
and stress (or pressure) is the same in all directions
(i.e. equilibrium has been reached). However,
solids cannot deform in such a manner, so these
materials will always have a plane across which
the stresses are at a maximum. They will also have
a plane perpendicular to this, across which the
stresses are at a minimum.
Properties such as mass and volume
are said to be scalars they require only a
magnitude to define them. Quantities such as force
and velocity are vectors they require not only a
magnitude, but also a direction in which they are
acting in order to be fully defined. Stress takes this
one step further as a tensor property it can only
be fully defined by a magnitude and an area across
which it is acting.
Strain. Strain is measure of how much the material
has been deformed when a stress is applied to it.
As the force, F, is applied in the x-direction, the
original height of the block of material, x, changes
by x (so that the new height is x - x). The strain
in the x-direction, x, is given by:
x

x = .

x

(4-30)

Note that the strain is defined in the same


direction as the applied force, F, and perpendicular
to the plane across which the stress acts. Strain is
important because this is the way we measure stress
by observing the deformation of a known piece of
material. Strain is dimensionless.

4-3.1.1 Stress and Strain

4-3.1.2 The Poissons Ratio


Stress. If a force, F, is acting on a body with crosssectional area, A, perpendicular to the direction of
action of the force, then the stress, , induced in this
body is equal to the force divided by the area:
F
= .
(4-29)
A

The Poissons ratio, , is a measure of how much a


material will deform in a direction perpendicular
to the direction of the applied force, parallel to the
plane on which the stress induced by the strain is
acting (see Fig. 4-17).

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement


y

E= .

+ y

Figure 4-17 Application of force F in the x-direction will


also produce a deformation in the y-direction

The strain in the x direction, x, is given by Eq.


4-30 (see Section 4-3.1.1). Similarly, the strain in the
y direction is given by:
y
y

y =
.

(4-31)

Note that this value is negative, a result of the way


we define the forces and the direction the forces act.
Compressive strain is positive; tensile strain is negative.

The Poissons ratio, , is defined by:

y
= .

(4-32)

The Poissons ratio is an important factor in determining


the stress gradient of the formation but is less important
in defining fracture dimensions, although it does have
some effect. By definition, the Poissons ratio is always
less than 0.5 (otherwise a uniaxial compressive stress
would result in an increase in volume) and typical
values for rocks are between 0.2 and 0.35. The Poissons
ratio is, of course, dimensionless.

(4-33)

Because strain is dimensionless, E has the same units


as stress. Youngs modulus is a measure of how much
a material will elastically deform under a load. This is
another term for hardness.
On a more fundamental level, if stress and
pressure are closely related (applying a pressure to a
surface induces a stress), then in fracturing we can
think of Youngs modulus as a measure of how much
a material (i.e. rock) will elastically deform when a
pressure is applied to it. Because pressure is stored
energy, E is also a measure of how much energy it
takes to make the rock deform.
Materials with a high Youngs modulus (e.g., glass,
tungsten carbide, diamond and granite) tend to be
very hard and brittle (susceptible to brittle fracture).
Conversely, materials with a low E (e.g., rubber,
polystyrene foam and wax) tend to be soft and ductile
(resistant to brittle fracture).
Elastic vs. Plastic. Elastic deformation is reversible: If
the force (or pressure or stress) is removed, the material
returns to its original size and shape. If so much force
is applied to a material that it passes beyond its elastic
limit, then the material will start to plastically deform.
This is permanent. A good illustration of this is the small
spring from a ball point pen. When the spring is lightly
stretched, it will return to its original shape. However,
if the spring is stretched too far, it will be permanently,
or plastically, deformed. Youngs modulus only applies
to elastic deformation. As a group of materials, rocks
tend not to plastically deform very much. Instead they
will elastically deform and then fracture if the stress
gets too high. Notable exceptions to this are salt beds,
soft carbonates (e.g., chalk) and young coals.

4-3.1.3 Youngs Modulus

Static Youngs Modulus. This is the standard


measure of E and is applicable to hydraulic fracturing.
The material is being deformed slowly and in
only one direction.

Youngs modulus, E, (also known as modulus of


elasticity or elastic modulus) is defined as the ratio of
stress over strain:

Dynamic Youngs Modulus. This is the rock


property measured by special sonic logging tools.
The material is no longer static; instead, it is

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being continually stretched and then compressed


rapidly. There is often a significant variation between
static and dynamic values for E due to a process
known as hysteresis. Hysteresis is a retardation of
the effects of forces, when the forces acting upon
a body are changed (as if from viscosity or internal
friction). In this situation, it represents the history
dependence of the physical systems. In a perfectly
elastic material, elastic stress and strain are infinitely
repeatable. In a system exhibiting hysteresis, the
strain produced by a force is dependent upon the
magnitude of the force and the previous strain history
(see Section 4-3.5.3).
Plane Stain Modulus. In hydraulic fracturing, the
strain in the direction perpendicular to the fracture
plane (i.e., the direction in which fracture width is
produced) is effectively zero. This is because in this
situation the denominator in Eq. 4-30 (the x) is so
large that the strain is effectively zero, even though
there has been measurable material deformation. This
is known as plane strain, which implies that strain
only exists in a direction perpendicular to the direction
in which strain is zero. To account for this anomaly,
fracture models use the plane strain modulus, E, to
calculate fracture width:
E
1

E'=
.

2

This property is important in hydraulic fracturing


because this stress level has to be overcome in order
to split the rock. Usually, the frac gradient (the
pressure i.e., stress needed to fracture the rock)
has two components: the stresses induced by the
overburden, and the tensile strength of the rock.
See Section 4-3.2 for a more detailed explanation
of in-situ stresses.
Materials also have a compressive strength,
which is the compression load beyond
which a material will fail. Failure mechanisms
are more complex because the material is
often compressed in several directions at once.
Generally, rocks are much stronger in compression
than in tension, a fact we take advantage
of during fracturing.
Shear Modulus. The shear modulus is similar to
Youngs modulus, except that it refers to the material
being in shear rather than in compression or tension.
It defines how much energy is required to elastically
deform a material in shear (see Fig. 4-18).
x

(4-34)

In fracturing, Youngs modulus will typically


have values ranging from as low as 50,000 psi
(for a shallow, very soft chalk or weak sandstone)
to as high as 6,000,000 psi for deep, tight,
shaley sandstone. It should be noted that Youngs
modulus may not be constant in weak or
unconsolidated formations.
4-3.1.4 Other Rock Mechanical Characteristics

Tensile Strength. The tensile strength of a material is


the level of tensile stress that is required to make the
material fail. Usually as stress is applied, the material
will elastically deform (reversible), plastically deform
and then fail. In most rocks plastic deformation
is negligible and the material will, for all practical
purposes, elastically deform and then fail.

Figure 4-18 Force F applied to produce a shear stress

The shear stress, , is given by:



F
= ,
(4-35)
A

where A is the area of the block of material parallel to


the line of action of the force F (this is the plane along
which the shear stress acts) and is equal to a b.
The shear strain, , is defined as:
x
h

= = tan .

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Therefore, the shear modulus, G, is equal to the shear


stress divided by the shear strain:

Fh
Ax

G= =
.

(4-37)

Bulk Modulus. This is another elastic constant,


which defines how much energy is required to
deform a material by the application of external
pressure. This is a special form of compressive
stress, in which the applied compressive stress is
equal in all directions. Imagine a block of material,
which originally has a pressure p1, applied to it
and has a volume V1. This pressure is increased to
p2, which causes the volume to decrease to V2, as
illustrated in Fig. 4-19. The increase in bulk stress
is the same as the increase in pressure, p2 p1. The
bulk strain is equal to the change in volume, V2 V1
divided by the original volume, V1. Thus, the bulk
modulus, K, is given by:

Relationships Between the Four Elastic Constants.


The four main elastic constants Youngs modulus,
shear modulus, bulk modulus and Poissons ratio are
all related. If two of these material properties are known,
the other two can be deduced:
E = 3K (1 2 ) ,

K=

E
,
3 6

G=

E
, and
2 + 2

= 3K E .

(4-40)
(4-41)
(4-42)

6K

(4-43)

Therefore, if the Youngs modulus and the Poissons ratio


are known, the shear modulus and the bulk modulus
can be deduced. Thus, fracture simulators only require
the input of E and .
4-3.1.5 Hookes Law

K =

V ( p p1 )
( p2 p1 )
= 1 2
and
(V2 V1 ) V1
(V2 V1 )
dp

K = V
.

dV

(4-38)

(4-39)

V1
V2

Stresses under the ground do not act only on a single


plane. There is a complex three-dimensional stress
regime. To simplify things, stresses are usually resolved
into three mutually perpendicular stress components in
the x, y and z directions.
Additionally, because the stresses are threedimensional, so are the strains. The elastic
relationship between these stresses and strains in
the mutually perpendicular directions, x, y and z, is
governed by Hookes law:
1
E

x = x ( y + z ) .

Figure 4-19 Volume changes from V1 to V2 as pressure


increases from p1 to p2

The minus sign is introduced into the equation


because the term V2 V1 will always be of the opposite
sign to the term p2 p1. The bulk modulus is therefore
a measure of how much energy it takes to compress a
material using externally applied pressure.

(4-44)

Equation 4-44 means that the strain in any direction


can be found in a three-dimensional stress regime,
provided the stress in that direction and the stresses
in two other mutually perpendicular directions are
also known. This will have implications for the in-situ
stresses as discussed in Section 4-3.2.
4-3.1.6 Failure Criteria and Yielding

Under conditions of uniaxial (one-dimensional) loading,


material failure is simple: The material elastically deforms
until a yield stress occurs, and then plastically deforms

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until the material fails. The point at which the strain


changes from elastic to plastic is referred to as the yield
point or yield stress. The maximum stress the material
can withstand under plastic loading is often called the
ultimate tensile (or compressive) stress or strength. For
brittle materials such as most rocks, plastic deformation
under uniaxial loading is almost nonexistent. The material
will, for all practical purposes, deform elastically and fail
(i.e., the yield stress ultimate tensile stress).
However, under conditions of triaxial loading, such
as those experienced by subterranean rock formations,
the situation is much more complex. To start with, the
three principal mutually perpendicular stresses (here
referred to as x, y and z), will induce shear stresses
on planes between the directions x, y and z. This means
there are six principal shear stresses (xy, xz, yx, yz, zx
and zy) and therefore nine principal stresses overall (see
Fig. 4-20). It must also be recognized that under triaxial
compressive loading, failure occurs by shearing, not by
conventional tension or compression. This means that
under triaxial compressive loading, if a suitable balance
is maintained among the three principal stresses, the
shear stress can be kept below the level required for
failure, and the material can essentially withstand
infinite stress. Such a situation occurs when a solid
block of material is subjected to hydrostatic pressure.
Finally, it must also be recognized that under triaxial
compressive loading, even materials traditionally
considered brittle (such as most rocks) can display
substantial plastic deformation before failure.
Ty

Uyx

Uyz

Uxy

Uyz
Uxz

Tx

Tz

Uzx

Tz

Tx

Uxz

Uzx
Uzy

Uxy

Uyz

Uyx
Ty

y
z

Figure 4-20 General state of stress (after Budynas, 1999)

The three-dimensional state of stress at any given


point is described by the following matrix:
x

xy

zx

xy

zx

yz
z


[ ] = .
yz

(4-45)

Using standard three-dimensional transformation


techniques (see Budynas, 1999, for example),
these stresses can be resolved to a coordinate
system such that:
' x

'z


[ ] = 0 ' y 0 .

(4-46)

These are the three principal stresses, 1, 2 and


3, defined so that 1 > 2 > 3 (note that tension is
positive and compression is negative, so a small tensile
load is greater than a large compressive load). To put
this another way, the direction of these three principal
stresses has been defined such that they are in a direction
that produces no perpendicular shear stresses. In all
other directions, shear stresses will exist.
Triaxial Failure Criteria. Several methods have been
developed for deciding when a material will fail under
triaxial loading. The main ones used today are Tresca
(maximum shear stress), von Mises (maximum-energy
of distortion) and Mohr-Coulomb. Both Tresca and von
Mises apply to ductile materials. The Mohr-Coulomb
failure criterion, which is more applicable to brittle
materials, will be dealt with in more detail below.
Mohr-Coulomb Failure Criterion. This failure
criterion, as illustrated in Fig. 4-21, relies on the
use of two key factors that must usually be obtained
empirically: SUC (the ultimate strength under uniaxial
compression) and SUT (the ultimate strength under
uniaxial tension). For rocks, as for most brittle materials,
SUC is usually many times greater than SUT.
Figure 4-21 looks complex but can be easily
explained. To construct this diagram, first plot two
Mohrs circles based on the values of SUT and SUC.
These are the two dotted circles in Fig. 4-21. Then
draw tangents to these lines as illustrated; these are
the failure lines. Finally, construct a Mohrs circle
based on the magnitude and difference between 1

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

and 3, as illustrated by the solid circle in Fig. 421, remembering that 1 > 3. If the solid circle is
small enough to remain inside the tangents, then the
material will not fail. However, if the difference and
magnitude of 1 and 3 are such that the solid circle
goes outside the tangents and into the region marked
Failure in Fig. 4-21, then the material will fail. In
Fig. 4-21 the stresses are such that the material is just
at the point of failure, with the principle stress Mohrs
circle falling right on the tangents.
U

Stability
T3

(4-47)

where n is the density of rock layer n, g is the acceleration


due to gravity and hn is the vertical height of zone n,
such that h1 + h2 + ..... + hn = H.
This is often expressed more simply in terms of an
overburden gradient, gob:
v = g ob H .

(4-48)

4-3.2.2 Horizontal Stresses


Failure

sUC

v = n g hn ,

T1

sUT

Failure

Figure 4-21 Mohr-Coulomb failure criterion for brittle


materials

4-3.2 In-Situ Stress and Fracture Orientation


In-situ stresses are the stresses within the formation,
which act as a load (usually compressive) on the
formation. They come mainly from the overburden,
and these stresses are relatively easy to predict. However,
factors such as tectonics, volcanism and plastic flow
in adjacent formations can significantly affect the insitu stresses these factors are much harder to predict.
In addition, the act of creating a localized anomaly
such as an oil well can also significantly affect the
stresses in a specific area.
4-3.2.1 Overburden Stress

The stresses due to the overburden (also called the


vertical stress) are simply the sum of all the pressures
induced by all the different rock layers. Therefore, if
there has been no external influences such as tectonics
and the rocks are behaving elastically, the vertical
stress, v, at any given depth, H is given by:

As previously discussed, a complex three-dimensional


stress regime exists in most subterranean rock
formations. To simplify things, stresses are usually
resolved into three mutually perpendicular stress
components: the vertical stress, v, and two horizontal
stresses, h,min and h,max.
Additionally, because the stresses are threedimensional, so are the strains. The elastic relationship
between these stresses and strains in three mutually
perpendicular directions, x, y and z, is governed
by Hookes law (Eq. 4-44 and Section 4-3.1.5).
For the case of elastic deformation with no outside
influences (such as tectonics) in a homogenous
and isotropic formation, there are two important
things to note. First, h,min = h,max because the
stresses will be symmetrical on the horizontal plane.
Second, as each individual unit of rock is pushing
against another identical unit of rock with the same
horizontal force, h,min = h,max = 0 (i.e., no deformation
on the horizontal plane).
Therefore, from Hookes law, setting x = h = 0,
x = y = h and z = v, then:


h = v
.

(4-49)

Equation 4-49 indicates that the Poissons ratio can


have a considerable influence on the horizontal insitu stresses. Additionally, given that < 0.5 and that
it is usually in the region of 0.25 for rocks, Eq. 449 also shows us that unless there are some extreme
outside influences, the horizontal stress will always be
less than the vertical stress. This has implications for
fracture orientation (see Section 4-3.2.4).

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4-3.2.3 The Effect of Pore Pressure


and Fracture Gradient

4-3.2.4 Fracture Orientation

After the work of Biot (1956) the vertical stress (Eq. 448) is usually modified to allow for the effects of pore (or
reservoir) pressure, such that:
v = g ob H pr ,

(4-50)

where gob is the overburden pressure gradient (usually


between 1.0 and 1.1 psi/ft) and is Biots poroelastic
constant, which is measure of how effectively the
fluid transmits the pore pressure to the rock grains.
depends upon variables such as the uniformity and
sphericity of the rock grains. By definition is always
between 0 and 1, usually assumed to be between 0.7
and 1.0 for petroleum reservoirs. We can see from Eq.
4-50 that the vertical stress is reduced by the action of
the reservoir pressure, as if the reservoir fluids partially
lift the overburden. This value is often referred to as
the effective stress. It should also be noted that as the
reservoir pressure declines (i.e., during depletion), the
effective vertical stress can increase.
The horizontal stress is also modified to allow for
the effects of pore pressure. As a result of work by
Handin et al., 1963 (based on previous investigations
by van Terzaghi, 1923; and on Biot, 1956), Eq. 449 is generally modified to allow for the effects
of the pore pressure:
h = (v pr )

+ pr .
1

(4-51)

Under most circumstances, h will decrease as pore


pressure declines.
Frac Gradient. Equation 4-51 gives the magnitude of
the horizontal stresses in the formation, provided the
two horizontal stresses are equal and the formation is
uniform. In order to determine the stress at which the
formation will fracture, it is often necessary to add a
component (T) to account for the tensile strength of
the rock (often minimal due to brittle fracture effects
see Section 4-3.4) and the effects of tectonics, etc.
The fracture gradient, gf, therefore becomes:

1 (v 2 pr )
g f =
+ pr + T .

H
1

(4-52)

Fractures will always propagate along the path of least


resistance. In a three-dimensional stress regime, a
fracture will propagate so as to avoid the greatest stress
and will create width in a direction that requires the least
force. This means that a fracture will propagate parallel
to the greatest principal stress and perpendicular to the
plane of the least principal stress. This is a fundamental
principle; therefore, the key to understanding fracture
orientation is to understand the stress regime.
v
h, max

h, min

Figure 4-22 Fracture propagation perpendicular to the


minimum horizontal stress

Propagation perpendicular to the least principal


stress (usually h,min) means that the fracture will almost
always propagate on a vertical plane (see Fig. 4-22).
However, there are some exceptions.
Equations 4-50 and 4-51 define the magnitude
of horizontal and vertical stresses in undisturbed
formations. The horizontal stresses are induced by
the vertical stresses. There is evidence to suggest
that these horizontal stresses get locked into place
(Economides and Nolte, 1987) and remain relatively
constant regardless of what later happens to the
vertical stress. Figure 4-23 illustrates what happens
when the vertical stress is reduced.
If formation is lost due to erosion or glaciation,
the overburden stresses are reduced. However, because
the horizontal stresses are locked in, they have not
been reduced. Therefore, there is a region, close to the
new surface, where the horizontal stresses are greater
than the vertical stresses. This means that the fracture

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will propagate horizontally a pancake frac. Thus,


in shallow formations in areas with a history of surface
erosion, horizontal fractures are not only possible they
are in fact, likely. This does not apply to formations that
are very weak or unconsolidated because stresses cannot
be locked in if the rock strata have no strength.
Magnitude of In-Situ Stress

Magnitude of In-Situ Stress

v
h
Original Stress Regime

Depth

Depth

Formation Lost
Due to Erosion

v
h

Stress Regime after Loss


of Height by Erosion

Figure 4-23 Changes in stress regime due to erosion or


glaciation

Another consequence of this phenomenon


is that in formations where the v and the h are
approximately equal, it can be very hard to predict
fracture orientation.
The action of outside forces, such as tectonics
and volcanism, can also significantly affect fracture
orientation. The extra stresses imposed by the movement
of the Earths crust do not usually alter the overburden
stress but can significantly alter the horizontal stresses.
In addition, formations can sometimes be bent and
buckled. For example, in Barbados, there is a formation
that has experienced so much tectonic stress that it now
runs vertically. Its stresses have been locked into place,
so now the original vertical stress is horizontal, and vice
versa. So the fractures propagate horizontally.
Influence of Wellbore Orientation. Drilling a well can
significantly alter the stress regime in an area around
the well. How far this effect reaches from the wellbore
depends upon the Youngs modulus of the formation.
Hard formations (high E) tend to transmit stress
more easily than soft formations (which will deform
to reduce the stress). Therefore, hard formations are
affected more than soft formations.
In the area around the wellbore the area affected by
the new stress regime fractures may propagate parallel
to the wellbore, even if the wellbore is highly deviated
or horizontal. As the fracture propagates away from the

wellbore, it will eventually reach a point at which the


normal stress regime becomes more significant than the
near-wellbore stress regime. At this point, the fracture
will change orientation. Sometimes this re-orientation
can be quite sudden, resulting in sharp corners in the
fracture, which can cause premature screenouts.
4-3.2.5 Stress Around a Wellbore
and Breakdown Pressure

A wellbore is essentially a pressure vessel with a very


thick wall. Consequently, the same theories that apply
to thick walled pressure vessels can also be applied
to wellbores, providing that the in-situ stresses and
reservoir pressure are accounted for. Figure 4-24
illustrates how the stresses at any given point near the
wellbore can be resolved into three principal stresses:
vertical, radial and tangential stresses. Once again,
these are perpendicular to each other.
v

Figure 4-24 Three-dimensional stresses around a


wellbore

The vertical stress, v , is as defined in Sections 43.2.1 and 4-3.2.3 (Eqs. 4-47 and 4-50). From Deily
and Owens (1969) we can get expressions for the
radial and tangential stresses induced by a pressure in
the wellbore, pw, at a radius, R, from the center of the
well (wellbore radius r w):
r2
r2
r = pw ( pr + pw pR ) w2 + 1 + w2 v
R R (4-53)

and
2
r 2
1 rw ( p p ) , (4-54)
t = ( pw pr ) w2 +
r
R 1 R 2 ob

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where pR is the pressure at a radius R from the


center of the well, is Biots poroelastic constant
(Biot, 1956), pr is the reservoir or pore pressure
and pob is the overburden pressure ( vertical
stress without the effects of pore pressure, see
Deily and Owens, 1961).
At the wellbore face, the stresses due to wellbore
pressure will be at a maximum. Also, this is by
definition the point at which the fracture initiates.
Therefore, these are the stresses that interest us most.
At the wellbore R r w and pR pw so that:
2
t =
g H pr ) ( pw pr ) and
1 ( ob

(4-55)

r = pw pr ,

(4-56)

where gob is the overburden pressure gradient and H is


the vertical height, such that pob = gob H.
Furthermore, Barree et al. (1996) went on to show
that provided the rock does not have any significant
tensile strength or plastic deformation, failure of the
rock (i.e., breakdown) occurs when the tangential stress
is reduced to zero. Therefore, from Eq. 4-55 with t =
0 and pw equal to the breakdown pressure (or initial
fracture pressure), pif, rearranging gives:
2
pif =
g H pr ) + pr .

1 ( ob

(4-57)

The breakdown pressure is the pressure


required to initiate a fracture from the wellbore.
Due to the effects of the stresses induced by the
presence of the wellbore, the breakdown pressure
is usually greater than the fracture gradient,
which is a measure of the pressure required to
propagate the fracture through the formation,
away from the influence of wellbore effects.
Both are usually expressed as pressure gradients
(i.e., in psi/ft or kPa/m) so that similar formations
in different wells at different depths can
be more easily compared. The fracture gradient is a
very important quantity in fracturing because it is
the most significant contributor to the bottomhole
treating pressure, which in turn helps to define
the surface treating pressure, the loading on the
completion and the proppant selection. Between

80 and 90% of the energy in the fracturing


fluid will be used simply to overcome the stresses
in the formation.
In order to produce a fracture in the formation,
two forces have to be overcome. The first force is
the in-situ stress, which is defined in Eqs. 4-49
and 4-51 when there are no external influences
such as tectonics, etc. The second force to be
overcome is the tensile strength of the rock,
which is usually in the region of 100 to 500 psi.
Roegiers (1987) defined the breakdown pressure in a
different manner to Eq. 4-57:
pif , upper = 3h ,min h ,max pr + T and

(4-58)

3h ,min h ,max 2 pr + T
,
2 (1 )

(4-59)

pif , lower =

where pif, upper is the breakdown pressure assuming no


fluid invasion into the formation (i.e., the maximum
possible theoretical breakdown pressure), pif, lower is the
lower boundary for breakdown pressure, assuming
significant alteration of the near-wellbore pore pressure
due to fluid, and is a parameter defined by the Poissons
ratio and Biots constant, as follows:
(1 2 )

=
.

2 (1 )

(4-60)

If there are no significant external influences on


the stress regime, the two horizontal stresses are equal
and Eqs. 4-58 and 4-59 can be simplified to:
pif , upper = 2h pr + T and
pif , lower =

2h 2 pr + T
.
2 (1 )

(4-61)

(4-62)

The breakdown gradient is simply the breakdown


pressure, pb, divided by the TVD.
The fracture gradient is the pressure required to
make the fracture propagate outside of the influences
of the wellbore (the region referred to as far-field). As
stated above, this is often significantly lower than the
breakdown pressure, depending upon the viscosity of the
frac fluid, the reservoir pressure and the contrast between
maximum and minimum horizontal stresses.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

4-3.3 Fracture Shape


4-3.3.1 Two-Dimensional (2-D) Fracture Geometry
wf (xf )

Until the early 1990s, fracture simulation was limited


to two-dimensional modeling. Although these
models had been extensively developed and refined
over a period of 25 years or so, they represented a
simple, albeit elegant, approximation to simplified
fracture geometry. Three main models existed; radial,
KGD (Kritianovitch and Zheltov, Geertsma and
DeKlerk, further refined by Daneshy) and PKN
(Perkins and Kern, Nordgren). A more detailed
explanation of these models will be provided in
Section 4-6.2.2. However, below is a brief, qualitative
description of the models.
Radial. Various radial models have been developed,
but in each one the height is assumed to be directly
related to the fracture length, such that hf = 2xf (=
2rf, the radius of the fracture). This is illustrated
in Fig. 4-25. In this model, fracture width is
proportional to fracture radius.

hf
xf

Figure 4-26 KGD fracture geometry

PKN. This fracture model was originally conceived


by Sneddon (1946) and later developed by Perkins
and Kern (1961), with further work by Nordgren
(1972), Advanti et al. (1985) and Nolte (1986b).
In this model, the fracture height is again assumed
to be constant. However, this time there is no
slippage between the formation boundaries, and
the width is proportional to fracture height,
as illustrated in Fig. 4-27.

wf (hf )
hf

rf

hf (= 2rf )

wf (rf )

xf

Figure 4-27 PKN fracture geometry

4-3.3.2 Elliptical Fracture Geometry

Figure 4-25 Radial fracture geometry

KGD. This model was originally developed by


Khristianovich and Zheltov in 1955 and was later
modified by Geertsma and de Klerk (1969), Le
Tirant and Dupuy (1967) and finally by Daneshy
(1973). This model is illustrated in Fig. 4-26. In
this model, fracture height is fixed and width is
proportional to fracture length. This model also
assumes constant width against height and slippage
at the formation boundaries.

It quickly became apparent that the simple twodimensional fracture geometry, with either a
fixed fracture height or a radial shape, was not
adequate for many fractures. Consequently, attempts
were made to extend the 2-D models to simulate
the fractures as ellipses (e.g., Martins and Harper,
1985). Other attempts were based on extending the
radial model so that hf < 2xf (instead of hf = 2xf),
although the user still had to specify the
ratio of length to height.

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Modern Fracturing

Ultimately, attempts at 2-D elliptical


fracture modeling did not find widespread use,
as they were quickly superceded by lumpedparameter 3-D models.
Today, most fracture modeling is performed using
lumped-parameter 3-D simulators. These models are
considerably more sophisticated than the 2-D models
outlined in Section 4-3.3.1 but are not fully 3-D.
Instead, these models relate all fracture parameters
back to a characteristic dimension, which is found
using proprietary methods. These simulators model
the fracture as two semi-ellipses, which meet on
a horizontal line level with the point of fracture
initiation, as illustrated in Fig. 4-28.

Upper
Semi Ellipse
Lower
Semi Ellipse

Point of Fracture Initiation

Figure 4-28 Lumped-parameter 3-D modeling, showing


two semi-ellipses

Special sets of consistency equations are used to


ensure that the two semi-ellipses have the same length
and width characteristics where they meet. The main
differences between the models are how they find the
characteristic length, how they ensure consistency
between the two halves of the fracture, and how they
model propagation at the fracture tip.
4-3.3.3 Limitations to Fracture Height Growth

Engineers often refer to boundary formations above


and below a zone of interest. Sometimes this is based
on wishful thinking a desire to achieve preferential
fracture extension and minimal height growth. Often
there is very little evidence to back up these claims of
fracture containment. However, it is also true that

sometimes fracture height is contained; the evidence,


usually based on microseismic analysis or post-treatment
pressure transient analysis, is hard to contradict. So what
can cause fracture height containment?
Stress Contrasts. The classic and often-abused formation
characteristic of stress contrasts is often used as evidence
for fracture height containment. Without question, a
significant increase in the minimum principal stress
(usually caused by a change in the Poissons ratio) as
the fracture propagates up or down into a different
formation, can make it very difficult for the fracture
to extend. The fracturing fluid does not have sufficient
pressure to separate the rock and without a significant
increase in pnet, will extend only laterally, rather than
grow into the high-stress region.
However, how often do these stress contrasts exist?
It is not appropriate to assume that an over- or underlying stratum will automatically have higher in-situ
stress than the reservoir sandstone. In fact, neighboring
layers are just as likely to have reduced stresses (in which
case we will get preferential fracture height growth) as
increased stresses. Unless there is some independent
evidence to corroborate stress-based fracture height
containment, it can not be relied upon.
Fracture Toughness and/or Tip Effects. In order for
the fracture to propagate, the rock must be physically
split apart at the fracture tip. In formations where this
is easy (i.e., relatively little energy is used to do this),
the formation is said to be brittle and has a low
apparent fracture toughness. The opposite effect, in
which relatively large quantities of energy are used to
split the rock apart, is referred to as ductility (high
apparent fracture toughness).
Although there is still considerable debate as to what
exactly is happening at the fracture tip, there is no doubt
that a significant portion of the net pressure (the energy
available in the fracturing fluid for making the fracture
grow) is used up at the fracture tip. How much energy is
used is controlled by ductile the formation is.
If the fracture propagates from a formation that
is brittle into a formation that is ductile, extra energy
(i.e. net pressure) will be required to keep the fracture
propagating in that direction. If this energy is not available
or if it is easier for the fracture to grow in an alternative

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

direction then the fracture will not significantly


penetrate the ductile formation. Consequently,
contrasts in apparent fracture toughness can form the
most reliable barriers to height growth, especially for
shales (as many shales exhibit plastic properties).
It is possible that fracture height containment
often attributed to stress contrasts is in fact due to
apparent fracture toughness contrasts.
Youngs Modulus. Contrasts in Youngs modulus are
not very good at preventing fracture height growth.
There is an inverse relationship between fracture
toughness and Youngs modulus; formations tend to
be either soft and ductile or hard and brittle. This
means that a rapid increase in E can also coincide
with a rapid decrease in apparent fracture toughness,
making it easier for the fracture to propagate.
However, as illustrated in Eq. 4-5, fracture width is
inversely proportional to E for any given net pressure.
Therefore, a rapid increase in E will result in a rapid
decrease in fracture width, possibly even to the point
where it is too narrow for proppant placement.
Fluid Viscosity. In spite of a common industry
perception, reduced fluid viscosity cannot be relied
upon to reduce fracture height growth, although a
contrast between pad fluid and proppant-laden fluid
viscosity can under the right circumstances result
in proppant-laden fluid entering only the central part
of the fracture. In fact there is considerable evidence
from the Gas Research Institute (GRI) Staged Field
Experiments (1988, 1989 and 1990), as discussed by
Wright et al. (1993), that formations will produce the
same pressure response (indicating similar fracture
geometry) regardless of fluid viscosity. There is also
very little evidence from microseismic analysis that
thin fracturing fluids produce less height than highly
viscous fluids (Cipolla, 2006).

Simulators assume symmetry on either side of


the wellbore, but this is highly unlikely given the
variations in formation properties and perforation
characteristics that almost certainly exist.
Simulators generally assume with notable
exceptions an elliptical or semi-elliptical
fracture geometry.
Simulators assume again with notable exceptions
horizontal isotropy in the formations. Even
in simulators that allow variations in formation
characteristics on the horizontal plane (such as the
grid-base simulators), there is usually very little
data available to justify doing this.
Simulators generally assume a single fracture on
each side of the wellbore. In reality, engineers
hope that a single fracture will predominate
and force any others closed, but there is no
guarantee that this will happen. Every perforation
is a potential source of fracture initiation, and
it is highly likely that more than one fracture
will propagate on either side of the wellbore
especially if the wellbore is deviated.
However, one over-riding fact determines
that relatively simplistic representations of fractures
will persist. There is little point in making the
models any more complex, as we cannot acquire
the data necessary to do justice for even these
simple models. Indeed, most inputs into the
current generation of fracture simulators require a
considerable degree of educated guesswork, refined
by experience. Consequently, there is little point
in making the models even more complex until we
can find significantly improved ways to determine
the required input data.
4-3.4 Fracture Propagation,
Toughness and Tip Effects
4-3.4.1 Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics

4-3.3.4 Complex Fracture Geometry

In reality, even with the most advanced models available,


we are using simplifications to model the hydraulic
fracture. In general, what we try to do is make a regular,
symmetrical, simulated fracture behave in a similar
fashion to a far more complex reality:

Linear Elastic Fracture Mechanics (LEFM) is all


about predicting how much stress (i.e. energy) is
required to propagate a fracture. LEFM assumes
linear elastic deformation (constant Youngs
modulus) followed by brittle fracture it is implicit
that no significant energy is absorbed by non-linear

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or non-elastic effects. That is to say, energy stored


as stress in the material is transferred directly to
fracturing the material, and no energy is lost to
plastic deformation or other effects.
The Griffith Crack. The first person to adopt a
meaningful analytical approach to studying the
mechanics of fracture propagation was Griffith
(1921). Fig. 4-29 illustrates the concept of the
Griffith crack, which can be expressed as:
U
a

2 2 a
E


=
,

(4-63)

where U is the elastic energy (i.e., the energy used


to produce elastic stress on the material), a is the
characteristic fracture length, is the far-field stress
(i.e., the bulk stress away from the influence of
the fracture) and E is Youngs modulus. Therefore,
Eq. 4-63 defines the amount of additional energy
(U) that is required to make the fracture grow from
length a to length a + a.

2a

In order to reach this relationship, Griffith makes a


significant assumption that there is no energy lost
at the fracture tip, so all energy is used to propagate
the fracture, either to elastically deform or to rupture
the material. Therefore, there can be no plastic
deformation at the tip and the Griffith model is only
applicable to materials liable to elastic deformation
followed by brittle fracture.
Griffith Failure Criterion. Given that for a uniform
material with constant geometry U/a is a constant,
there is a critical value of stress, c, at which the material
will experience catastrophic failure, i.e., the fracture
propagates at high velocity across the material causing
failure. This critical stress is defined as:
EG
a

1c
c =
.

(4-65)

The critical energy release rate, Glc, is determined


experimentally and is a material characteristic,
although it will vary with both temperature and
the overall geometry of the test specimen. Equation
4-65 also defines, for a given stress, a critical
fracture length. If the fracture is less than this
critical length, the material will not fail. However,
if the fracture grows beyond this critical length,
the material will fail.
The subscript 1 refers to the failure mode, as
illustrated in Fig. 4-30. Failure mode 1 is the opening
mode, mode 2 the sliding mode and mode 3 the
tearing mode. In hydraulic fracturing, we are usually
concerned only with failure mode 1.
Mode 1:

Mode 2:

Mode 3:

Opening

Sliding

Tearing

Figure 4-29 The Griffith crack

Usually, U/a is replaced by 2G. G is referred


to as the elastic energy release rate or the crack
driving force, such that:
2 a
G
=
.

E

(4-64)

Figure 4-30 Failure modes for linear elastic fracture


mechanics

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Stress Intensity Factor. With reference to Fig. 4-31, the


stresses in the principal directions, at some point away
from the fracture tip, can be expressed as:
xx =

K1

3
cos 1 sin sin and

2
2
2
2 r

(4-66)

yy =

K1

3
cos 1 + sin sin ,
2
2
2
2r

(4-67)

where K1 is the stress intensity factor (failure mode 1) at


the polar coordinates (r, ) away from the fracture tip.

x
a

(4-69)

Considering the plane strain situation (i.e., zz = 0,


an object with a thickness large enough to make strain
on the z-axis negligible), and the case that a r, then
the stress in the y-direction across the line of the
fracture (i.e., = 0) can be expressed as:
1
yy =
.

1.12
2
3 x f
+
8
8 ( 12 h

.
2

(4-70)

K1c is related to G1c by:

Figure 4-31 Coordinate system for the stress intensity


factor

K
2r

K1c
a

c =
.

This is a fundamental equation of Linear Elastic Fracture


Mechanics, where is a geometrical factor and is equal
to 0.4 for a radial fracture. For elliptical fractures, can
be found as follows (from Broek, 1986):

Fracture

characteristic, it is also a variable, depending upon the


gross geometry of the fracture and its surroundings,
as well as temperature.
Assuming a constant temperature in any given
instance, relationships linking K, a and for most
situations have been solved, either analytically or
numerically. At material failure, c can be described in
terms of a critical stress intensity factor, K1c, which is
more commonly referred to as the fracture toughness:

(4-68)

Obviously, from Eq. 4-68, as r 0, yy . This


represents a fundamental difficulty in this approach
to modeling fractures because the stresses can become
infinite at the fracture tip. In reality, some kind of
plastic deformation is likely as the stress rises above
the yield point. In brittle materials, the region around
the fracture tip in which plastic deformation occurs
is very small and the amount of energy consumed
by this process is not significant. This is not the
case for ductile materials.
Using this approach, K is the only factor
that affects the magnitude of the stress at a given
distance from the fracture tip. While K is a material

K12c
E

G1c = (1 )
.

2

(4-71)

For a given gross geometry, fracture toughness


is a material characteristic. Equation 4-71 shows
that it represents the amount of mechanical energy a
material can absorb before it fails by brittle fracture.
Put simply, a material with a low K1c is brittle, and a
material with a high K1c is tough.
4-3.4.2 Significance of Fracture Toughness

In hydraulic fracturing, fracture toughness represents


the amount of energy required to split the rock apart
at the fracture tip. The relative values of fracture
toughness and Youngs modulus determine how
energy is used to create fracture width and how much
it is used to create fracture height and length.
At the start of fracture propagation, the fracture
half-length (equivalent to a in Eq. 4-69) will be very
small. While the stress (and hence energy) required
to create length is proportional to 1/xf, the energy
required to create width is directly proportional to
the half-length. This means that the energy used
as a result of the fracture toughness is much more

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Modern Fracturing

significant for smaller fractures (or at the start of


a treatment) than it is for larger fractures (or at
the end of a treatment).
4-3.4.3 Complexity at the Fracture Tip

From the extensive work done in this field, it is clear


that LEFM alone does not adequately account for the
pressure needed to make the fracture grow. There is a
tip over-pressure effect, which means that more pressure
(energy) is required than is predicted by LEFM. A few
of the possible and not necessarily mutually exclusive
theories for this are described below.
Fluid Lag Effect. The fluid lag effect was first identified
by Khristianovitvh and Zheltov in their original 1955
paper that is better known for the description of the
frac model that would become known as the KZD
model. Jeffrey (1989) quantified the effect by defining
an apparent fluid lag due to the crack tip pinching effect
caused by fluid lag as illustrated by Fig. 4-34.
Process Zone

pnet
ptip

pnet
2xf

Figure 4-32 Crack tip pinching effect caused by the


inability of the fracturing fluid to penetrate into the fracture
tip (from Jeffrey, 1989)

Because the frac fluid cannot penetrate into the


far tip of the fracture, the rock at the tip experiences
less pressure than the rock exposed to the fracturing
fluid in the main body of the fracture. Because the
rock is subjected to less pressure, the fracture width is
reduced. This acts to decrease the apparent length of
the fracture, which has the same effect as increasing
the fracture toughness of the rock. Therefore the main
effect of the fluid lag is to increase the net pressure
required to propagate the fracture.

Jeffrey defines the effective fracture toughness


produced by the fluid lag effect as:
K1effc = K1c + K1lag
and
c


K1lag
c = 2 ptip

R
arcsin
,
R
2

(4-72)
(4-73)

where ptip is the net pressure in the non-wetted part of


the fracture tip, R is the radius of the fracture at any
given point, K1ceff is the effective fracture toughness
caused by the fluid lag effect, K1clag is the additioanl
fracture toughness caused by the fluid lag effect, and
is the length of the non-wetted zone (parallel to the
direction in which xf is measured). Note that R is the
distance from the point of fracture initiation and does
not imply radial fracture geometry.
Johnson and Cleary (1991) showed that the
length of the non-wetted part of the fracture could be
approximated by:

2
R pnet
(4-74)
,

2 pnet + pc

if the condition set out in Eq. 4-75 is met.


Crack Tip Dilatancy. The theory of crack tip dilatency
was first put forward by Johnson and Cleary (1991)
and has been used extensively by them in one of
the major fracture models. They used the concept
of dilatancy (first observed by Reynolds, 1885) in
which granular materials are observed to deform
in a non-linear elastic fashion. During hydraulic
fracturing, dilatancy causes a volumetric expansion
of the material in the process zone, which requires
extra energy (i.e. net pressure). This approach almost
entirely eliminates the concept of fracture toughness.
Instead, the theory states that deep underground,
the effect of the confining stress is much more
significant than the effect of the fracture toughness.
Thus K1c can be ignored if:

pnet R K1c ,

(4-75)

where R is the radius of the fracture (as defined above)


and is analogous to the LEFM characteristic of fracture
length. Johnson and Cleary combined the effects of
dilatancy and fluid lag, as illustrated in Fig. 4-33.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement


Dilation Contribution
Fluid Lag Pinching Effect

pnet

R
Figure 4-33 Illustration of the Effects of Fluid Lag and
Dilatancy (from Johnson and Cleary, 1991)

Process or Damage Zone. Yew and Liu (1993)


showed that a damaged zone exists beyond the fracture
tip, in which extra energy is absorbed to create the
damage, ahead of the propagation of the fracture. This
produced an increase in fracture toughness:

E Et
72 2

K1c =
K
,
(4-76)
1

1 + 3 (1 + ) Et

where Et is the Youngs modulus of the damaged


zone, K1 is the stress intensity factor (= pnet(xf )),
and is found from:
3

tan =
,

2
112

K1
1 / r h ,min .
2 ( + x f )

C 2 K1

h ,min + x f

(4-80)

E y

remembering that K1 = pnet(xf). The plastic region


around the fracture tip has a radius rp, as defined by:
y rp 1 3
2
=
sin 2 + (1 2 ) (1 + cos ) .

2
2

K
4

( )

(4-81)

Figure 4-34 shows Eq. 4-81 plotted in polar coordinates,


to give the size and shape of the plastic zone around the
fracture tip.
0.5

y2rp
K12

O = 0.25

R
-0.5

0.5

(4-78)

K12 (1 2 )


d=
,

They also showed that the fracture propagation rate, u,


could be determined by:
u=

Crack Tip Plasticity. The phenomenon of plastic flow


at the fracture tip, even in materials believed to be
elastic-brittle, was first described in relation to hydraulic
fracturing by Yew and Liu (1993). van Dam, et al.
(2000) presented experimental evidence of the existence
of the plastic zone, while Martin (2000) described the
shape of the plastic zone and quantified the amount of
energy lost to plastic deformation.
Referring to Eq. 4-68, we can see that as we near the
fracture tip (i.e., as r approaches zero) the stresses can rise
dramatically and will tend to infinity as r actually reaches
zero. Obviously, this is not possible; as the material passes
its yield stress, y, it will plastically deform to reduce the
stresses and absorb energy. This has the effect of producing
a blunt fracture tip with a diameter, d, defined as:

(4-77)

where is the internal friction angle of the material.


From Eq. 4-76 we can see that the change in fracture
toughness is driven by a change in Youngs modulus in
the affected area. If the Youngs modulus is unaffected
(i.e. Et = E in Eq. 4-76), then K1c is zero.
Valk and Economides (1993) used the
Continuum Damage Mechanics concept to modify
traditional LEFM to account for the existence of
microfractures in a damaged zone normal to the
fracture path. They showed that Eq. 4-68 could be
modified to define the stress at a distance r from the
fracture tip, to allow for the presence of microfractures
of average length, :
(r ) =

where C is the Kachanov (1971) parameter and is


considered a material characteristic.

(4-79)

-0.5
Figure 4-34 Polar coordinate plot showing the size and
shape of the crack tip plastic zone, for = 0.25 (from
Martin, 2000)

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Modern Fracturing

4-3.5 Measuring Rock


Mechanical Characteristics
4-3.5.1 Introduction
This section reviews testing methods that are generally
used in acquiring rock mechanical properties necessary
to run current hydraulic fracture models. In cases where
core is not available, alternative methods of estimating
mechanical properties are reviewed.
Many hydraulic fracture models require some or
all three of the following elastic constants for each layer
used in the simulation:
Youngs modulus
Poissons Ratio
Biot-Willis poroelastic constant

In addition, proppants are used to maintain fracture


width and enhance conductivity. If the formation is too
soft, excessive proppant embedment may detrimentally
reduce conductivity. This is especially true for low
proppant loadings. Formation hardness is a simple test
that can be used to assess the degree of embedment that
one can expect at net closure stress.
4-3.5.2 Methods of Measurement

The measurement of the elastic properties of the


formation have been divided into two general
categories; static and dynamic. Dynamic elastic
properties derive their name from the oscillatory
nature of the applied loads used in the measurement,
while the term static implies measurements in
which the loads are applied at such low rates that the
axial and confining stresses are uniformly distributed
over the entire sample. Static elastic constants are
measured using conventional triaxial test equipment
that measures the deformation of core samples as
a function of applied stress. The rates of stress and
strain in static measurements are orders of magnitude
lower than those used in dynamic testing. The stress/
strain amplitudes applied in static measurements are
also order of magnitude greater than those used in
dynamic testing (typically). Because of differences
in stress/strain rates and amplitudes between the two
general test methods, the calculated values of the
elastic constants usually turn out to be different (Plona

and Cook, 1995, Obert et al., 1946). For example,


the dynamic Youngs modulus of sandstone is often
greater than the static value by a factor of 2 to 10.
The predominant view in the industry is that static
values of elastic constants are a better representation
of the values needed in hydraulic fracture models.
Therefore, elastic constants derived by dynamic
methods often have to be corrected or transformed
into static equivalents before use in hydraulic fracture
models. Below, we discuss how these constants
may be obtained and how to transform dynamic
values into static values.
Dynamic Methods. It can be shown (Auld, 1990) that
for linear elastic, isotropic, homogeneous solids, the
relationships among the dynamic Youngs modulus
(Edyn) and Poissons Ratio (dyn) and the longitudinal
and shear wave velocities are as follows:
1 (u u )2 1
p
s
and
dyn = 2
2
(u p us ) 1

(4-82)

Edyn = 2bus2 (1 + dyn ) ,

(4-83)

where up is the longitudinal mode of wave propagation,


us is the transverse mode of wave propagation and
b is the bulk density, which can be calculated
from porosity (), rock matrix density (ma) and
fluid density(f) by:

b = ma (1 ) + f .

(4-84)

Eqs. 4-82 and 4-83 form the basis for calculating


elastic constants from wireline conventional sonic and
dipole sonic density logs. They are used throughout the
industry and usually provide a reasonable estimation
of the dynamic elastic constants. A more convenient
form of Eqs. 4-82 and 4-83 uses the transit times or
inverse wave velocities:
1 (t t )2 1
s
p
dyn = 2
2
(ts t p ) 1 and
Edyn = 2.694104 b (1 ts ) (1 + dyn ).

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(4-85)

(4-86)

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Shear (Gdyn) and bulk moduli (Kdyn) can also be


calculated from the transit times:
2

Gdyn = 1.347 104 b (1 ts ) and

(4-87)

2
2

K dyn = 1.347104 b (1 t p ) 4 3 (1 ts ) ,

(4-88)

where ts = 1/us and tp = 1/up. The coefficient in Eq. 4-86


is the conversion factor allowing Youngs modulus to
be expressed in units of millions of pounds per square
inch (Mpsi), while the bulk density is expressed in units
of g/cc and the shear-wave transit time in sec/ft. Eqs.
4-85 and 4-86 are convenient because sonic data is
typically expressed in units of sec/ft.
The Biot-Willis poroelastic constant, , can also
be calculated from wave velocity data (Klimentos
et al., 1995):
= 1 K dry K s ,

(4-89)

where Kdry is the dynamic bulk modulus of the rock


tested under drained conditions and Ks is the average
bulk modulus of the mineral components comprising
the rock. Drained measurements are performed
by allowing the pore fluids to freely drain from the
pore space, thus maintaining constant pore pressure
during the test. The subscript dry is used in Eq. 4-89
because testing dry core is the easiest way to ensure this
condition is met. Like other dynamic measurements
of elastic properties in porous rock, obtained from
wave velocity measurements may be different from
obtained using static testing methods.
Wireline logging companies provide options for
obtaining the wave velocities of different modes of wave
propagation. For example the compressional, shear, and
Stonely modes of propagation are routinely collected.
Conventional shear velocities are derived from modeconverted compressional wave signals that fall incident
on the borehole wall. Dipole-sonic logs induce torsional
and flexural modes of propagation but travel essentially
at the shear velocity. For elastic constants, data from the
compressional and shear wave transit times are used in
Eqs. 4-85 to 4-88.
The longitudinal and transverse wave velocities are
also measured in the laboratory on cores using a set
of transmitting/receiving ultrasonic transducers. The

pulsed through-transmission method is most common.


The ultrasonic transducers are designed to generate
longitudinal, transverse or torsional waves. The
transverse- and torsional-mode transducers generate
ultrasonic waves that travel at the shear velocity. The
transverse wave measurement has the advantage over the
torsional wave measurement in that the transverse wave
is polarized and therefore suitable for measuring elastic
anisotropy. However, torsional-mode transducers tend
to generate more energy; therefore, the signal-to-noise
ratio is greater than that produced by polarized shear
transducers. This can be important when measuring
shear velocities in highly attenuating rock, such as
unconsolidated, saturated sands.
Static Methods. The most reliable method for
determining the elastic constants for use in hydraulic
fracture models is by testing cores under triaxial
conditions of stress. The most common triaxial method
tests cylindrical core plugs. Loads are imparted to the
sample by a pressurized fluid (usually hydraulic oil)
applied to the outer circumference of a sleeved core
plug and an independent axial stress applied to each
end of the sample by a hydraulic press. Typical stress
paths involve an initial hydrostatic ramp to some
predefined value, followed by an additional increase
in axial stress while maintaining a constant confining
pressure. In some instances, the axial stress path may
be cycled one or two times to remove stress hysteresis
effects from the strain measurements. The cores may or
may not be saturated with a fluid. For gas-producing
wells, testing the cores in a room-dried state usually will
not affect the elastic properties to a large extent.
The axial and radial displacements are usually
measured using either strain gauges or LVDTs
(Linear Variable Differential Transformers). The
axial strain is calculated from the fractional change
in length along the deviatoric axial stress cycle. The
radial strain is calculated from the fractional change
in diameter or circumference along the same portion
of the stress cycle. Youngs modulus is calculated
from the secant slope of the change in axial stress
to axial strain. Poissons Ratio is calculated from
the secant slope of the change in radial strain to
axial strain. In some instance, the volume strain
is monitored during the stress cycle(s) to ensure

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that volume strain of the core is not in a state of


dilatation. Dilatation implies the volume is increasing
with additional stress/strain and is associated with
permanent deformation and the onset of plastic
deformation (Reynolds, 1885). Sections of stress/
strain curves where dilatation is observed should be
avoided when calculating elastic constants.
Brinell Hardness. Formation hardness is easily
measured on core materials using a single-ball
penetrometer, which is used to determine the Brinell
hardness (BH) of the material. This measurement is
often performed to estimate the amount of proppant
embedment that can be expected in a hydraulic
fracture at maximum anticipated closure stress.
Brinell hardness is also measured to determine the
softening effect that fracturing fluids have on fluidsensitive formations such as shale and coal.
Brinell hardness, BH, is defined by ASTM E50
and ISO 6506 standards as the ratio of the applied
force, F, of the steel ball to the contact area, Ac, of the
indentation created by the steel ball:
F
Ac

BH = ,

(4-90)

Typically, BH values less than 5 to 6 kg/mm2


indicate soft formations. Care should be taken to
ensure that proppant loadings are high enough to
compensate for proppant embedment.
Formation
Porosity-Permeability.
Routine
measurements of porosity and single-phase
permeability (either liquid or air) should be performed
if core materials are available. These tests are relatively
easy to perform and provide important data needed
to calculate production rates, hydrocarbon volumes,
completion strategies, etc. This data is often needed
as input into hydraulic fracture models. Porosity/
permeability cross-plots from core measurements
can often provide useful transforms for estimating
permeability from wireline log data.
Mineralogy. Mineral content as determined from
powdered X-ray diffraction (XRD) techniques
provides clues to mechanical and petrophysical
properties. For example, XRD is routinely performed
on cores to identify hydrophilic minerals such as
expandable illite/smectite clays that can be the cause
of much formation damage from water-based muds
and fracturing fluids.

where the contact area is given by:

Ac = 2rh = 2r r

(r 2 r 2 ) ,

(4-91)

and where definitions of the penetration depth, h,


radius of indentation, r, and proppant radius, r are
illustrated in Fig. 4-35. The test can be designed to
measure either h or r.

Proppant Grain
of Radius r

r
ra
h

h = Embedment Depth
ra = Radius of Indentation
Figure 4-35 Diagram illustrating the Brinell hardness test

4-3.5.3 Core Selection/Sample


Preparation Considerations

Core material can be acquired by various means.


Conventional whole cores are extracted during the drilling
operations and have to be planned with the drilling
program. Typical coring barrels extract 4-in.-diameter
cores. Core barrel lengths typically come in 30-ft sections.
Although some analytical laboratories have the means
to test whole core for mechanical, electrical and poropermeability properties, most testing is performed on core
plugs extracted from whole core sections. Cylindrical core
plugs are usually drilled parallel and/or perpendicular to
the whole core axis. The size of the core plugs is variable,
but typically, 1- and 1.5-in.-diameter plugs are taken.
The length of cores cut parallel to the whole core axis can
vary depending on the test objectives. Core plugs drilled
perpendicular to the whole core axis, are limited to the
whole core diameter. For mechanical properties, a lengthto-diameter ratio of 2:1 is recommended.

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Rotary and percussion sidewall plugs are a second


source of core material. Rotary plugs tend to have less
mechanical damage than percussion sidewall plugs and
are favored over percussion sidewall for testing mechanical
properties, routine porosity and permeability. By
definition, sidewall cores are drilled perpendicular to the
axis of the borehole. In vertical wells, rotary sidewall cores
are correctly oriented for determining elastic properties in
hydraulic fracture applications. Percussion sidewall cores
are useful for assessing mineral content and grain size and
measuring formation hardness. The diameter of sidewall
cores is slightly less than 1 in.
Drill cuttings are a third source of core material.
By definition, cuttings are fragmented rock that is
transported by the drilling mud to the surface. The
cuttings acquired at the surface are a mixture of
cuttings from different depths, and the depths from
which they are collected are usually not accurately
known. The use of cuttings to determine mechanical
properties is therefore severely compromised. However,
advances in the use of cuttings to infer mechanical
properties have been reported (Ringstad et al., 1998,
and Santarelli et al., 1996).
Outcrop is a fourth source of reservoir core material.
Caution should be exercised when interpreting data
acquired from outcrop material. Outcrop is weathered
rock whose mechanical properties have most likely
been altered from initial in-situ values through drying,
freeze-thaw cycling and stress relaxation. In addition,
the location of outcrop is often miles from the well
site. Considerable effort is often required to relate the
outcrop test results to reservoir properties.
The following items should be considered when
selecting core for testing:
1. Try to obtain a representative sampling
both the reservoir and the bounding rock
layers, if available.
2. Use available gamma ray (GR), density, and
compressive wave transit time (DTC), shear wave
transit time (DTS) logs to determine the location
and number of samples needed. Select samples
that span the range of density, porosity and GR
values. This will increase the chance of selecting a
wide range of rock properties.

3. If available, use a LithoLog to select core.


Choose enough core from each rock type so
that there will be enough core data generated
to establish empirical relations among the
different rock types.
4. Find out if there is a core-log depth shift. Note the
shift when selecting core plug locations.
5. For hydraulic fracturing, drill plugs in the
direction of minimum principal stress. In a
vertical well with anticipated vertical fracture, drill
plugs perpendicular to the core axis. In horizontal
wells with anticipated vertical fracture, drill plugs
parallel to bedding planes (if visible). If horizontal
fractures are anticipated, cores should be drilled
in the vertical direction.
6. Drill plugs with length-to-diameter ratio
of 2:1.
7. If the core was recently taken, try to preserve
formation fluids. Wrap core plugs in plastic
wrap and seal before shipping to laboratory.
Tests should be performed with reservoir fluids
in place if possible. In gas wells, testing as
received should be adequate.
4-3.5.4 Deducing Elastic Properties without Core

There may be occasions in planning hydraulic


treatments when core material is not available. It will
then be necessary to use other resources to estimate
the static elastic constants. The following resources
should be considered:
1. Rock properties database
2. Reference literature studies
A database of core measurements (in-house) of
static and dynamic elastic properties can be used as
a look-up tool to determine whether measurements
on cores from the same formation, location and/
or rock type have been made. If so, this data may
be correlated to available wireline log data to help
generate a synthetic mechanical property log.
If not, then the use of empirical correlations
reported in the technical literature between quantities
routinely measured by wireline logs and static/dynamic
elastic constants on similar rock types may suffice. The

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most common wireline log data that often correlates


well to elastic properties are porosity, density, gamma
ray (total clay) and sonic transit times. However, it
is important that reported empirical correlations be
applied only to the rock types similar to those in
which the study was conducted.
One basic strategy for estimating mechanical
properties from logs is to first determine which
of the following information is known for a set
of rock types:
1. Bulk density
2. Porosity
3. Clay volume
4. P-wave transit time
For example, if bulk density, porosity and
clay volume are known from wireline logs, then
an appropriate correlation found in the literature
relating these two quantities to the p-wave (and/or swave) transit times can be used to generate a synthetic
p-wave (and s-wave) log. If s-wave log data is not
available, an appropriate correlation can then be used
to estimate s-wave transit times from p-wave transit
times. Once the p-wave and s-wave transit times have
been estimated, the dynamic elastic constants can be
calculated from the above equations. The static elastic
constants can then be estimated from appropriate
static-to-dynamic transforms.
Below is a partial list of references that may be
useful in constructing synthetic logs from reported
empirical trends:
1. Wyllie et al. (1956, 1958, 1963) provided time
average equation relates the p-wave velocity in
rock to the porosity and p-wave velocities in the
pore fluid and mineral constituents of the rock.
The correlation is limited to moderately to wellcemented sandstone with primary porosity where
all minerals have the same velocity.
2. Raymer et al. (1980) also related the p-wave
velocity to porosity and the p-wave velocities
of the pore fluid and mineral content. The
correlation is limited to moderately to wellcemented sandstone where all minerals
have the same velocity.

3. Han et al. (1986) provided empirical relations


for shaly sandstone, relating the p-wave
and s-wave velocities to porosity and clay
content. The study was conducted on wellconsolidated Gulf Coast sandstones with
porosity ranging from 3% to 30% and clay
content from 0% to 60%. These relations
do not extrapolate well beyond the range
of data tested.
4. Eberhart and Phillips (1989) related the p-wave
and s-wave velocities to porosity, clay content
and effective pressure in water-saturated cores
from Hans data set.
5. Castagna et al. (1985) related p-wave and swave velocities to porosity and clay content for
clastic silicates composed of mostly clay and
siltstone. The relations should be used only for
rock types of similar properties.
If p-wave data is available, but not s-wave, the
following sources may be of use:
6. Castagna et al. (1993) and Pickett (1963)
derived empirical correlations between pwave and s-wave velocities in water-saturated
limestone and dolomite.
7. Castagna (1985, 1993) and Han (1986) derived
empirical correlations between the p-wave and
s-wave velocities in water-saturated sandstone,
shale and shaly sands.
8. Greenberg and Castagna (1992) gave empirical
relations of s-wave to p-wave velocities of the
mineral constituents making up water-saturated
rock. Correlations were developed for sandstone,
limestone, dolomite and shale.

If bulk density is the only known quantity, then
the following sources may be of use:
9. Gardner et al. (1974) derived an empirical
relation between the p-wave velocity and bulk
density for many rock types.
10. Castagna et al. (1993) improved Gardners
relations by applying power-law fits to individual
sets of data representing shale, sandstone,
limestone, dolomite and anhydrite.

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Additional sources that may be of use include:

11. Brevik (1995) and Urmos and Wilkens (1993)


presented relations between p-wave and swave velocities in gas- and brine-saturated
chalk from sonic-density logs. Included
are relationships between p-wave, s-wave
velocities and porosity.
12. Geertsma (1961) and Yale and Jamieson (1994)
presented data for deriving correlations between
p-wave, s-wave velocities and porosity in dry
dolomite and limestone.
13. Blangy (1992) presented data for deriving
correlations between the p-wave, s-wave
and porosity in poorly consolidated,
saturated sandstone.
After obtaining an estimate of the dynamic elastic
constants, the following sources may be useful in
estimating the static elastic constants. Most studies
focused on the relationship between the dynamic and
static Youngs modulus. To this authors knowledge,
strong empirical correlations between the static and
dynamic Poissons Ratio have not been published.
14. Lacy (1997) derived empirical correlations
between the static and dynamicYoungs modulus
for sandstone, shale and the combined data set
of sandstone, shale and carbonate rock.
15. Yale and Jamieson (1994) presented data for
deriving empirical correlations between static
and dynamic Youngs modulus, static and
dynamic Poissons ratio, static Youngs modulus
and porosity, and static Poissons ratio and
porosity in different types of carbonates.
16. Morales (1993) derived an empirical correlation
between static and dynamic Youngs modulus
for sandstone from various fields.

4-4 Fluid Rheological Characteristics


4-4.1 Viscosity
Viscosity is a measure of how much a fluid resists
deformation as a result of an applied force or pressure.
It is a measure of how thick the fluid is. Viscosity

is only very rarely a constant value, as it can change


dramatically with temperature, applied shear stress and
fluid composition. Viscosity is defined as the relationship
between shear stress and shear rate (see below).
4-4.1.1 Shear Rate, Shear Stress and Viscosity

Shear Rate, . In fluid mechanics, shear rate is a


measure of how fast a fluid is flowing past a fixed
surface. Shear rate can be thought of as a measure of
how much agitation a fluid is receiving.
Causes of Shear Rate:
Spinning centrifugal pump
Flow through a pipe
Model 35 viscometer test
Jet mixer
Tank agitators
Shear Stress, . Shear stress is the resistance the fluid
produces to an applied shear rate. For instance, it
requires more force (or pressure) to pump water at
20 bpm than at 10 bpm.
Viscosity, . The fluid property that defines how
much shear stress is produced by a shear rate, is called
viscosity. The greater the viscosity, the greater the
resistance of a fluid to shear agitation.
4-4.1.2 Measurement of Viscosity

The standard method for measuring the viscosity of


a fluid is to agitate it at a known shear rate and then
see how much force is produced on a fixed surface,
positioned close to the source of agitation, with a thin
layer of the test fluid between them. For a fixed rate
of shear, the greater the force on the fixed surface, the
greater the viscosity of the fluid.
Figure 4-36 shows the components of a typical
viscosity-measuring device. The device consists of a
fixed solid cylinder (or bob) surrounded by a hollow
cylinder, which is positioned concentrically to the bob.
The cylinder (also referred to as the rotor) spins around
the bob such that a fluid positioned between the rotor and
the bob will produce a drag effect on the bob. The greater
the viscosity of the fluid, the greater the drag force on the

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Torsion Spring

Bob Shaft
Rotor
Fluid
Bob
Cross-Section Through Rotor & Bob

Figure 4-36 Diagrammatic illustration of the rotor and


bob configuration used to measure viscosity

Viscometers based on this rotor and bob method


are available in various configurations, including fully
computer-controlled versions capable of testing fluids
at high temperatures and high pressures.
4-4.2 Fluid Behavior
4-4.2.1 Newtonian Fluids

Shear Stress, t

Newtons law of fluids states that there is a linear


relationship between shear rate and shear stress, as
illustrated in Fig. 4-37. The gradient of this straight
line is the viscosity:

(4-92)

For oilfield units, with in cp, in lbf/ft2 and in


sec-1, Eq. 4-92 is expressed as:


= 47, 479 .

(4-93)

Newton was the first to realize the relationship in


fluids between an applied force and the resistance to
that force. His experiments were carried out on simple
fluids such as water and brine, and not on more
complex fluids, such as those used in stimulation
activities. A fluid that exhibits a linear relationship
between shear rate and shear stress is referred to as
being Newtonian. However, there are a wide variety
of fluids that do not exhibit this behavior and are
referred to as non-Newtonian (see below).
Examples of Newtonian fluids include fresh
water, seawater, most brines, non-gelled acid,
diesel, alcohols and gases (at constant density
and temperature).
4-4.2.2 Non-Newtonian Fluids

Non-Newtonian fluids do not exhibit a linear


relationship between shear rate and shear stress,
except in very specialized circumstances. They
can be divided into three basic types, as
illustrated in Fig. 4-38.

Shear Stress,

bob. The bob is connected, via a shaft, to a torsion spring


and a measuring device. As the fluid produces drag on
the bob/shaft assembly, it is allowed to deflect against the
torsion spring, so that the greater the drag force, the more
the shaft and bob assembly will deflect. The deflection is
measured and displayed as viscosity. Because some fluids
have viscosity that is not constant (c.f.) and will vary with
shear rate, most viscometers allow the rotational speed of
the rotor (and hence the shear rate) to be varied.

d
c
b
a

Gradient =
0

Shear Rate,

Figure 4-37 Relationship between shear rate and shear


stress for a newtonian fluid

Shear Rate,

Figure 4-38 The relationship between shear rate


and shear stress for a) Newtonian fluid; b) power law
fluid (shear thinning); c) Bingham plastic fluid and d)
Herschel-Buckley fluid

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

= yp + p ,

(4-94)

where yp is the yield point and has oilfield units of


lbf/100 ft2 (note that in laboratory measurements, yp
has the units lbf/ft2, so the value for has to be converted
before it is used), and p is the plastic viscosity in cp.
Power Law Fluids
The next group of fluids is generally referred to as
power law fluids, although other names have been
used to describe them. In general, there is no linear
relationship between shear rate and shear stress, so
that apparent viscosity (the viscosity which the fluid
appears to have, at a specific shear rate) changes with
shear rate. Equation 4-95 describes the behavior
of the power law fluid:
n
= K .

(4-95)

In order to find K (the power law consistency index)


and n (the power law exponent), viscometer readings are
taken at a variety of different shear rates. The log of shear
rate is plotted against the log of shear stress, so that K is
the intercept of the log axis and n is the gradient. K
has the rather awkward units of lbf.secn/ft2, in order to be
consistent, while n is dimensionless.
Power law fluids can be divided into three
major categories:
Shear-thinning fluids. In these fluids, n is less than 1, so
the fluids experience a decrease in apparent viscosity as the
shear rate increases. Most of the fluids used for fracturing
fall within this category.

Shear-thickening fluids. These fluids have an n greater


than one, so they exhibit an increase in apparent
viscosity as shear rate increases. Extreme examples of
these fluids can behave as if they were solids when
exposed to even moderate shear forces.
Herschel-Buckley Fluids
Another example of a power law fluid is the HerschelBuckley fluid, which is often used to model the flow
behavior of foams:
n

= 0 + K ,

4-4.2.3 Apparent Viscosity

The apparent viscosity of a fluid is the viscosity of


the fluid at a specific shear rate. For a Newtonian
fluid, the apparent viscosity is the same as the actual
viscosity. For all other fluids, the apparent viscosity is
the slope of a line on a shear rate vs shear stress curve,
from the origin to the line, at a specific shear rate, as
shown in Fig. 4-39.

Newtonian fluids. Newtonian fluids are a special case


of power law fluids in which n is equal to one, i.e., the
viscosity is constant and equal to K.

(4-96)

where o is the threshold shear stress, K is the


Herschel-Buckley consistency index and n the
Herschel-Buckley exponent.
Herschel-Buckley fluids are basically a combination
of Bingham plastic and power law fluids. An initial
threshold shear stress has to be overcome before the fluid
will flow. Once this has happened, the viscosity is not
constant and will vary according to the shear rate.

Shear Stress,

Bingham Plastic Fluids


This type of fluid requires an initial shear stress to be
induced before they will deform. Put another way, they
have a yield point or gel strength that must be broken
before the fluid can move (although some fluids have a gel
strength that has nothing to do with yielding). This type of
fluid is not Newtonian, although it usually has a constant
viscosity once the initial gel strength has been overcome:

t=

en
di

a
2
Gr nt =
ie
ad
r
G

1
0

Shear Rate,

Figure 4-39 Change in apparent viscosity for a power


law fluid at two shear rates

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Modern Fracturing

As can been seen in Fig. 4-39, for a shear-thinning


power law fluid, the apparent viscosity of the fluid
(the slope of the two lines) decreases as the shear rate
increases. At shear rate 1, the slope of line 1, 1, (and
hence the apparent viscosity) is greater than the slope
of line 2 at the greater shear rate 2. Hence the fluid
is said to be shear thinning.
In practice, it is the apparent viscosity that
is usually measured. The model 35 viscometer is
set up so that at 300 rpm (with an R1 rotor,
B1 bob and spring factor = 1), the apparatus
reads apparent viscosity directly with no additional
calculations required.
4-4.3 Flow Regimes
4-4.3.1 Plug, Laminar and Turbulent Flow

Figure 4-40 illustrates the three different flow regimes that


a fluid can experience, with plug flow being at the lowest
fluid velocity and turbulent flow being at the highest.

into turbulent flow. This is characterized by a series


of small-scale eddies and whirls, all moving in the
same overall direction.
The friction pressure produced by the fluid
flow is highly dependent upon the flow regime.
Therefore, it is important to be able to determine
the flow regime.
4-4.3.2 Reynolds Number

The flow regime is found by using the Reynolds number


(NRe), as follows:

100 <


The Reynolds
found from:

NRe< 100
NRe< 2000
NRe> 2000

Plug Flow
Laminar Flow
Turbulent Flow

number for pipe flow can be

dv


N Re =
,

(4-97)

where is the fluid density, d is the inside diameter of


the pipe, v is the bulk fluid velocity along the pipe
and is the viscosity. Equation 4-97 is for SI units,
and for field units:
q

fluid
N Re =132, 624
,

(4-98)

Plug

Laminar

Turbulent

Figure 4-40 The three flow regimes

Plug Flow. At low flow rates, the fluid flows with an


almost uniform velocity profile. The fluid moves with
a uniform front across almost the entire flow area.
Laminar Flow. As the flow rate increases, the velocity
profile begins to change. Fluid close to the walls of
the pipe (or duct, or fracture) flows slowest, while
fluid in the center of the pipe flows fastest. Fluid
velocity is a function of distance from the pipe wall.
This is also known as streamline flow.
Turbulent Flow. As the flow rate continues to
increase, the contrast in velocity across the flow area
becomes unsustainable, and the fluid breaks down

where fluid is the specific gravity of the fluid, q is the


flow rate in bpm, d is the inside diameter in inches and
is the viscosity in cp.
Obviously, Eqs. 4-97 and 4-98 only apply to
Newtonian fluids, i.e., fluids with a constant viscosity.
As stated before, in fracturing engineers only rarely
deal with Newtonian fluids, so below is Eq. 4-98
converted for power law fluids:
N Re = 15.49

fluid v 2n
n

K (96 d )

(4-99)

where v is the velocity in ft/sec. To make things easier,


v can be easily found from the flow rate, q:

q

(4-100)
v =17.157 2 ,
d

with q in bpm and d in inches.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

4-4.4 Fluid Friction

4-4.4.2 Predicting Pressure Loss due to Friction

One of the ultimate objectives of fluid mechanics as


far as the fracturing engineer is concerned is to be
able to predict the friction pressure (ppipe friction) of the
fluids that are being pumped. This is often very difficult
because fluid composition and temperature is constantly
changing as the treatment progresses. In addition,
two-phase (liquid and proppant) and even three-phase
(liquid, proppant and gas) flow is common.
Predicting fluid friction pressure is, therefore, an
unreliable process; there really is no substitute for reliable
bottomhole pressure data. Failing that, the next best option
is to use friction pressure tables, using data generated by
actually pumping the fluid around a flow loop (therefore
data is based on a situation similar to the actual treatment
process). Most modern fracture simulators incorporate
data from these tests in their fluid models, so friction
pressures predicted by these are also reasonably reliable
(although not perfect, as the temperature of the wellbore is
constantly changing) unless there is proppant in the fluid.
When the three methods outlined above are not
possible, the friction pressure may be calculated from fluid
data, using one of several available methods. The method
outlined in Section 4-4.4.2, based on the use of Fanning
friction factors, is fairly reliable (i.e. it is just as good as the
data used as inputs), but is not intended for use in narrowdiameter pipes at higher-than-normal flow rates (such as
for coiled tubing treatments).

Fannings method uses a friction factor, , to calculate


the fluid friction:
p pipe friction = 0.325

fluid Lv 2 f
d

(4-101)

Eq. 4-101 is in field units, with the length of the pipe,


L, in ft, the velocity, v, in ft/sec and the pipe inside
diameter, d, in inches.
The friction factor is determined by using the
Reynolds number. For plug and laminar flow:
16
N Re

f =
,

(4-102)

and for turbulent flow for smooth pipes:


0.0303
N Re

f 0.1612 .

(4-103)

Effect of Proppant on Fluid Friction. Proppant


concentration has a significant effect on the
friction pressure of the fluids. Generally, increasing
proppant concentration will increase the friction
pressure. Shah and Lee (1986) developed the
following correlation, based on the effect of
varying proppant correlation and pipe size, for
HPG borate fracturing fluids:
m

1m

p friction = (r ) (r )

(4-104)

4-4.4.1 The Influence of Flow Regime

Flow regime has a huge influence on friction pressure


because the mechanisms that create the loss of energy
vary massively in significance. In plug and turbulent flow,
the main energy loss is due to friction effects between
the fluid and the wall of the flow channel (usually a
pipe, but also a duct or even a fracture). This is roughly
proportional to the velocity of the fluid.
However, for turbulent flow, the situation is far more
complex. Inertial and internal viscous forces become
much more significant, and the energy lost increases
much more quickly than the velocity of the fluid. It is
therefore important to know the type of flow regime
being experienced by the fluid because different methods
are used for calculating the friction.

where pfriction is the ratio of the fluid friction


pressure with and without solids, r is the ratio of
the apparent viscosities of the slurry to the clean
fluid and r is the ratio of the densities of the slurry
and the clean fluid. The exponent m is the gradient
of the log-log slope of friction plotted against
Reynolds number; often; 0.2 is used.

4-5 Optimum Treatment Design


Hydraulic fracturing treatments are designed using
various software tools. There are two main groups of
hydraulic fracturing software systems. Almost all in
commercial use can be called fracture simulators. The
others are fracture design programs.

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Modern Fracturing

A fracture simulator takes as an input a treatment


schedule. Using additional information relevant to the
well, formation, fracturing fluids and proppants, it
simulates the growth of the fracture, the distribution
of the proppant within it, and the pressure response.
The primary use of fracture simulators is to analyze (or
match) actual treatment data commonly observed
pressures and compare those pressures to the model
response to estimate the various parameters of the
created fracture. Ultimately, a good match of observed
and simulated pressures provides confidence that the
model describes well the already executed treatment.
Because of this goal, many options are built in to
influence the calculated pressure response.
Over the past many years fracture simulators have
evolved into complex software that can do related tasks,
such as design a fracturing treatment. Starting with
two-dimensional (2-D) models, they have evolved into
pseudo-three-dimensional (p-3-D) and, even, in some
versions, three-dimensional (3-D) models. Design
using these models is done with a series of simulations,
basically feeding numerous treatment schedules into
the simulator, calculating the created fracture geometry
and using the geometry to predict the improvement
in well productivity. The final step is selecting the
best injection schedule from the set of calculated
ones. However, finding the optimum design for well
production is not the original objective of such software;
rather, it is a special application of the computational
model developed originally for other purposes. In
fact, even with the most up-to-date versions of such
software there is no guarantee that the calculated subset
of treatment schedules contains the optimum one in
any reasonable engineering sense. Approaching the
optimum depends very much on user intuition and
on the number of calculated cases.
The fact that fracturing technology is often new in
a given geographical area implies that merely copying
standard treatment practices and then making small
steps of gradual improvement is not a viable strategy. In
other words, in a new environment there is less use for
golden rules derived from accumulating experience
and more use of basic design principles and well-defined
design methods. The ultimate goal is to provide a
systematic method for creating the optimum fractured
well performance for a given well and formation, taking

into account several technical and economic constraints.


Fracture design software does not create a fracture
geometry first and then investigate its likely effect on well
productivity, but rather starts from petroleum engineering
principles, determines the best possible placement of a
given amount of proppant that maximizes production
and then back-calculates the necessary parameters of
the treatment schedule that will realize the optimum
treatment within the given constraints. Over many years,
fracture design software has become sophisticated and can
also provide additional functionality, such as calculated
pressure responses and model parameter matching.
Nevertheless, the ultimate goal remains to create a
treatment design, rather than to reconstruct an already
executed treatment. More importantly, an optimum
design software, although it can respect logistical and
practical constraints, may also help to overcome such
constraints by pushing the limits of execution and
improving practices and products.
While the basic results for optimum fracture
dimensions were already presented by Prats (1961),
Economides at al., (2002) suggested the first practical
step towards such an optimum design methodology. In
the book Unified Fracture Design (UFD), the original
methodology was developed using only the simplest
2-D fracture propagation models (PKN and KGD).
Since the publication of UFD many applications and
improvements have been presented in the literature:
Meyer and Jacot (2005) and Daal and Economides (2006)
considered non-square drainage area; Lopez-Hernandez
et al. (2004) applied the methodology to compensate
for non-Darcy effects in the fracture; Dietrich (2005)
considered steady-state performance optimization for
water-flooding scenarios; Poe and Manrique (2005) and
Manrique and Poe (2007) extended the optimization
methodology for cases where the transient flow regime
lasts extremely long. Field-scale applications are described,
for instance, in Economides et al.,(2004), Demarchos
et al. (2004, 2005), Diyashev and Economides (2005),
Oberwinkler and Economides (2003, 2004), Rueda et
al. (2004, 2005), Timonov et al. (2006), Nikurova et al.
(2006), and Rozo et al. (2007).
Some key concepts of the methodology
Dimensionless Productivity Index (JD), Dimensionless
Fracture Conductivity (CfD), Penetration Ratio (Ix) and
Proppant Number (Nprop) are summarized below.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

4-5.1 Dimensionless Productivity Index


and Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity
A well in a reservoir developed on a certain pattern
has a finite drainage area. During most of its lifetime,
it is producing in a stabilized flow regime called
pseudo-steady state (or more precisely: boundarydominated state). During the stabilized flow regime
the productivity index of a well (PI), defined
by the production rate divided by the pressure
drawdown, is calculated as:
q
p pwf


J =

Following McGuire and Sikora (1960) it is


customary to plot JD (or some similar performance
indicator) as a function of CfD (or some similar variable)
with an additional curve parameter representing Ix (or
some similar variable). Such a plot, shown in Fig. 4-42,
used to be popular to select treatment size and fracture
dimensions simultaneously. Unfortunately, it is not
obvious which curve to select and what point to select on
a given curve, because this type of presentation blurs the
cost of creating a propped fracture.

(4-105)

ye=xe

If we consider a square drainage area (see Fig. 4-41)


and compare two possible fractures executed for
a vertical well in the center, the fracture providing
the larger PI is better.
The Dimensionless Productivity Index, JD, is defined
as
B
kh

JD = 1
J

2xf

xe

(4-106)

For an unstimulated well in a circular reservoir, JD is


given by the well-known formula (see also Eq. 2-21):
JD =

ln 0.472 e + s
rw

(4-107)

with the skin factor, s, representing deviation


from the base case (without any near-wellbore
damage or stimulation).
For a fracture stimulated well, JD is affected
by the volume of proppant placed into the
pay layer, by the permeability ratio of the proppant
bed and the reservoir, and by the geometry
of the created fracture. All these factors can be
characterized by two dimensionless numbers
the dimensionless fracture conductivity, CfD, and
the penetration ratio, Ix:
C fD =

kf w

and

kx f

2x f
Ix =
,
xe

2xf

Figure 4-41 Basic notation, top and side view (assuming


fracture height and formation thickness are the same)
Dimensionless Productivity index, JD

Ix= 1
0.9
0.8
0.7

ye = x e
2xf

1.5

xe

0.6
0.5

0.4
0.3
0.2

0.5

0.1
0.01

0
0.01

0.1

10

100

1000

10,000

Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity, CfD

Figure 4-42 McGuire-Sikora-type representation of


Dimensionless Productivity Index

(4-108)
(4-109)

where the notation is obvious from Fig. 4-41.

As it was first shown in Valk and Economides


(1998), certain aspects of the fractured well performance
can be described by a single combination of these two
dimensionless numbers. This combination is called the

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Modern Fracturing

Dimensionless Proppant Number, Nprop, and it is the


appropriate way to express the relative size of a given
treatment. Nprop is defined as the ratio of propped volume
of the fracture in the pay to the volume of the reservoir,
weighted by twice the permeability ratio:
2k V

f p
=
= I x2C fD ,
N prop

(4-110)

kVr

Dimensionless Productivity Index, JD

where Vp is the propped fracture volume contained


within the payzone and Vr is the drained volume of
the pay (in short, the reservoir volume). Recently the
name Stimulation Index has been also suggested for
Nprop, (Poe, 2006). Nprop represents in a dimensionless
form the amount of resources spent on the treatment.
Algorithms are available to calculate JD as a function of
CfD with Nprop as a parameter; see, for instance, Romero
et al. (2003), and Meyer and Jacot (2005). Typical
results are shown in Figs. 4-43 and 4-44.
0.5

Ix= 1

xe = ye
ye

0.4

a: Np = 0.0001
b: Np = 0.0003
c: Np = 0.0006
d: Np = 0.001
e: Np = 0.003

2Xf
Np = 0.1

xe

0.3

Np = 0.06
Np =0.03

0.2
b

a
10

Np = 0.01
Np = 0.006
e
c d
10-3

-4

10-2

10-1

100

101

102

Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity, CfD

Dimensionless Productivity Index, JD

Figure 4-43 Dimensionless productivity index as a


function of dimensionless fracture conductivity with
proppant number as a parameter, for Nprop <= 0.1
2.0

1.5

ye

xe = ye

Ix=1

2Xf

Np= 10

Np= 100
Np= 30
Np= 60

Np= 6

xe

Np= 3

1.0

Np= 1
Np= 0.6
Np= 0.3
Np=0.1

0.5

As seen from Fig. 4-43, Nprop already


determines the achievable maximum dimensionless
productivity index from the given amount of
resources. The maximum productivity index is
realized at a well-defined value of the dimensionless
fracture conductivity. Since a given proppant number
represents a fixed amount of proppant reaching the
pay, the best compromise between length and width
is achieved at the dimensionless fracture conductivity
located under the peaks of the individual curves.
The corresponding CfD is called the optimum
dimensionless conductivity.
Although large Proppant Numbers lead to larger
Dimensionless Productivity Indices, the absolute
maximum for JD is 6/ = 1.909 (the JD for a perfect
linear flow in a square reservoir; see for instance, ElBanbi and Wattenbarger, 1998).
At low Proppant Numbers, the optimal CfD = 1.6.
At larger Proppant Numbers, the optimum CfD is larger.
When the propped volume increases or the reservoir
permeability decreases, the optimal compromise
happens at larger dimensionless fracture conductivities
(the penetration cannot exceed unity).
It is also customary to present the actual
performance of the fractured well in terms of
effective fracture length; see, for instance, Barree
et al. (2005).
4-5.3 Optimum Length and Width

A reasonable optimization scheme for fracture
design can be readily established because once
the optimum dimensionless fracture conductivity
is identified, the optimum fracture dimensions of
length and width are determined by two equations
(compare with Eq. 2-35, where the one-wing
propped volume was denoted by Vf):
0.5

0
0.1

4-5.2 Optimum Dimensionless Conductivity

10

100

1000

Dimensionless Fracture Conductivity, CfD

x fopt

k f V p / 2
and
=
C fD ,opt kh
0.5

Figure 4-44 Dimensionless productivity index as a


function of dimensionless fracture conductivity with
proppant number as a parameter, for Nprop > 0.1

wopt

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C fD ,opt kV p / 2
.
=

kf h


(4-111)

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Example 4-1: Designing for formation permeability


In the center of an 80-acre drainage area, a vertical
well of radius rw = 0.5 ft is to be fracture stimulated.
The fracturing engineer plans to place 2500 lbm
proppant (retained permeability kf = 50,000 md,
specific gravity of the proppant material is 3.3, and
porosity of the proppant pack under closure stress is
0.20). The engineer is uncertain about only one thing:
the formation permeability. Optimistic estimates go up
to 10 md, but the pessimistic value is 0.1 md. From
the above data and taking just 1 ft of the formation,
the engineer can calculate the propped volume (Vp).
Depending on the assumed formation permeability,
however, the Nprop, the maximum achievable JD and
the best possible pseudoskin vary considerably. Using
UFD, we can calculate the optimum placement for
various assumed permeabilities:
Table 4-4 Results for Example 4-1
k,md

Nprop

JD,opt

CfD,opt

sf,opt

xf,opt,ft

0.1

4.35

1.39

6.60

-6.18

757

0.435

0.695

1.86

-5.46

451

10

0.0435

0.391

1.63

-4.34

152

We can continue the previous example, investigating


the effect of a wrong assumption about permeability. For
example, if the engineer designs for a 757-ft half-length
fracture, but the real formation permeability is k = 10
md, she will not realize a JD = 1.39 nor even a JD = 0.391
value (the maximum value for the optimum treatment
and resulting geometry for a 10-md reservoir). The
actual realized JD will be only 0.359. On the other hand,
if she designs for a 152-ft half-length fracture, but the
real formation permeability is k = 0.1 md, she will not
realize the achievable JD = 1.39 value, but less than half
of it: JD=0.631. All of these calculations can be easily
done with the publicly available FracPI.xls spreadsheet,
available via http://www.pe.tamu.edu/valko
4-5.4 Treatment Sizing and Proppant
Placement Efficiency
One can consider the selection of a target Proppant
Number as the sizing of the treatment. The sizing
determines the treatment cost. In fact the operator
mainly pays for the Proppant Number that is, for

the proppant volume and the retained permeability


of the propped pack. Other items on the bill are
secondary in the sense that they just assist with placing
the proppant. Increasing the proppant number costs
money. On the other hand, optimum dimensions
with respect to a given amount of resources already
follow from Nprop via CfD,opt.
Theoretically, it is quite easy to determine the
optimum treatment, after we know the amount of
proppant (Vp) reaching the net pay. In real life, however,
a considerable fraction of the injected proppant will end
up outside the net pay and hence will not contribute to
the proppant number. A key parameter is, therefore,
the fraction of injected proppant reaching the pay: the
proppant placement efficiency, prop. Most profoundly,
prop is affected by the created fracture geometry. For
instance, if there is a considerable height growth during
the treatment, prop will be much smaller than for a wellcontained fracture. Also, proppant settling may reduce
prop significantly. Therefore, a thorough design process
has to find the optimum dimensions with respect
to the actual Nprop calculated with the actual prop. In
UFD, this is done iteratively because any change in the
treatment parameters affects prop via the most up-todate calculated fracture geometry.
4-5.5 Taking Into Account Operational Constraints
There are many technical constraints to consider during
fracture design. By far the most significant limitation is
the maximum concentration of proppant in the slurry
feed that we can safely pump.
This limitation (often expressed in added proppant
concentration, ppga) often makes it impossible to place a
given amount of proppant according to the requirements
of the theoretical optimum. Depending on the equipment
and materials, the pumpable limit is around 0.35 to 0.45
volume fraction of solid, translating to 14 to 18 ppga
added proppant concentration.
When the target length is reached, the actual
dynamically created fracture volume will be determined
by the dynamically created width, which, in turn,
is determined by the reached length, the injection
rate, fluid rheology and formation elastic modulus.
(Interestingly, the leakoff parameters significantly
affect pumping time but do not really influence the

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Modern Fracturing

dynamically created width at the time of reaching


the target length.) The dynamically created fracture
volume multiplied by the maximum pumpable
concentration gives the mass of proppant we can
place into the fracture. If this amount of proppant is
less than the amount we started the design with (for
instance the 2500 lbm per 1 ft of pay in our previous
example), the design engineer should select among
various practical options:

fracture width is inflated until the required


amount of proppant is placed. In the TSO phase,
the inflating width causes a sharply increasing
net pressure; this is the main signature of an
actual TSO. From the point of optimization,
the TSO design means we can work around the
technical limitation of the maximum pumpable
concentration and use smart tactics to realize the
theoretically achievable maximum JD.

1. A viable option is to keep the target length


but place only as much proppant as the limit
allows. In simple terms we can call this the
reduced proppant mass option. This will result
in a suboptimal placement and a reduction in
realized JD. However, the cost of the treatment
is also reduced because we place less proppant
than originally targeted.
2. More rigorous is to keep the original mass of
proppant unchanged and stretch the fracture
as much as necessary until it can accept all the
proppant (in our specific example, 2500 lbm per
1 ft). Such a design will be suboptimal in the
sense that it will realize less than the theoretically
achievable JD. The actual JD achieved will be
suboptimal with respect to the theoretical
setting but it will be optimal in a practical
sense: It will provide maximum JD within the
technical limitation of the maximum pumpable
concentration. As we express this fact in UFD, we
depart from the theoretical optimum as little as
possible to satisfy an additional constraint.
3. A third option in sufficiently soft, unconsolidated
formations is to use the procedure of Tip
Screenout (TSO) (see Section 4-7.3.2). In a
TSO design, we adjust the proppant schedule so
that at the time of reaching the target length (for
instance, 152 ft for the 10-md case in the previous
example) we also reach a critical situation with
respect to proppant transport inside the fracture.
The critical situation can be postulated in various
ways and can be specified in various forms of
TSO criteria. The most important thing is
that once this critical condition is reached, the
fracture length does not increase any more. In
the subsequent part of the treatment only the

Additional constraints. In actual fracture design,


we have to consider various additional technical
constraints. For instance an approximate knowledge of
the damage penetration distance may put a special
requirement on the minimum fracture length. Net
pressure limitation may also force us to depart from
the theoretical optimum. When designing for longer
fractures, one should consider a minimum width and/or
minimum areal proppant concentration requirement.
All these issues can be handled similarly: The key is to
depart from the theoretical optimum only as much as
necessary to satisfy an additional constraint.
4-5.6 Using Fracture Propagation Models
The above described design logic is basically
independent of the method of predicting height
containment and fracture propagation.
4-5.6.1 Height containment

Height is often calculated by subtracting the


vertical stress profile from fluid pressure and
calculating stress intensity at the upper and lower
tips. One way to provide sufficient data for the
data-hungry 3-D simulators is using rock tables
(Leshchyshyn et al., 2004).
Recently considerable effort has been spent on
fracture diagnostics methods (Cipolla et al., 2000, and
Mayerhofer et al., 2006.) A common theme emerging
from such investigations is that fracture height is
controlled by far more complex parameters than just
vertical stress profile (Weijers, 2005). Consequently,
the simple concept of aspect ratio (2xf /hf) seems to
be more predictable, at least in a certain well-defined
geographical/lithological setting.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

4-5.6.2 2-D models

Table 4-6 Design Procedure Based on UFD Concepts

The two most widespread 2-D design models are due to


Perkins and Kern, 1961 (PKN), who used the vertical
plane strain assumption; and Kristianovich-Zheltov,
1955, and Geertsma and deKlerk, 1969 (KGD), who
used the horizontal plane strain assumption for the
crack opening. For simplicity, those early models
assumed a rectangular fracture shape (side view).
The basic outcome of those models was the width
equation relating length and width via additional
parameters including injection rate, fluid rheology
parameters and formation elasticity parameters. A
modified PKN model assuming elliptical side view is
summarized in Table 4-5.

1 + ( 1)n

n
2+ 2n

5. Using the proppant placement efficiency and the effective


proppant pack permeability, calculate Nprop, the optimum JD and
the optimum target length, xf. (Here the knowledge of formation
permeability is crucial.)
6. Calculate dynamic fracture dimensions and net pressure at the
time of reaching the target length (see Table 4-5 for the simplest
2-D model equations or use a more sophisticated 3-D model).
7. Using leakoff parameters CL and Sp and an opening time
distribution factor (Economides et al., 2002), = 1.5, solve the
material balance:

9. Calculate fluid efficiency from:

t t pad

c = ce
ti t pad

= w0
5

A = x f hf
4
V = Awavg

Net Pressure at
Wellbore

pnet =

h f x f wavg
Vi ,1wing

where

t pad = ti

and

1
1+

and

m1wing
Vi ,1wing

11. Convert concentration into proppant added to clean fluid:

cadded =
Volume of one
Wing

Vi ,1wing = qi ,1wing ti

10. Determine pad injection time, tpad, and create a proppant


schedule according to Nolte (1986):

ce =
Surface of one
Face of one Wing

t (2 C L ) t 2 S p wavg = 0,

wavg

4. Estimate retained proppant pack permeability, taking into


consideration possible further reduction due to non-Darcy flow
(see Sections 2-5.2, 8-7.3 and 8-7.4).

8. Calculate injected slurry volume from:

q n x 2+2n
i f
E h n-1

Average Width

3. Assume a fracture height at end of pumping and calculate


corresponding proppant placement efficiency.

for injection time, ti, or use a 3-D model to obtain the necessary
injection time.

1.107 + 0.891n
w0 = exp

1 + n

Maximum Width at
Wellbore

2. For various treatment sizes (e.g. 25,000, 50,000, 100,000,


150,00, 200,00, 300,000, 500,000 lbm)

qi ,1wing

h x
f f

Table 4-5 Modified PKN Model for Elliptical Fracture


Shape (consistent units), power law fluid

1
2+ 2n

1. Select the type of proppant to be pumped.

c
1 (c / p )

12. Assume uniform concentration at end of pumping, ce, or


calculate proppant concentration at end of pumping from a more
detailed model taking into account various possible proppant
transport mechanisms and possible settling.

2E
w0
hf

13. Using the concept of fixed aspect ratio or net pressure to


stress contrast and fracture toughness, recalculate fracture height
at end of pumping.

Whether a simple 2-D width equation or a more


sophisticated fracture simulator is used, the goal of
the design should be to create optimum fracture
dimensions with respect to the actual treatment
size (proppant volume used) and to select among
possible treatment sizes.

14. Knowing the fracture height (and possible detailed proppant


distribution), recalculate proppant placement efficiency.
15. Repeat steps 4 through 13 until convergence.
16. Having constructed the optimum treatment for each specified
treatment size and having calculated the corresponding
dimensionless productivity indices realized, select the particular
size satisfying a specific economic criterion (e.g., maximizing Net
Present Value).

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Modern Fracturing

The reader is cautioned that several software


products claim to do net present value optimization,
but they do not ensure that the individual fracture
geometries compared are optimal with respect to
their own treatment size.
Example 4-2: Optimum Design Based on Aspect Ratio
and Minimum Height
As an example, we consider a certain geographical
area where, according to some fracture diagnostics
results, the aspect ratio of created fractures seems to
be 4. Because this is hard rock country, extensive
TSO (width inflation) is not a viable option. We are
going to design an optimum treatment for two cases:
In Case A, formation permeability is 0.25 md; in Case
B, formation permeability is 2.5 md. The vertical plane
strain elliptical model is used (PKN width equation
combined with an elliptical shape of the fracture face).
Additional data are summarized in Table 4-7.
Table 4-7 Input Data for Example 4-2, Optimum Design
Based on Aspect Ratio and Minimum Height
40 acre

Net pay thickness

70 ft

Gross pay thickness


(also perforated interval
180 ft
and hence minimum
height)
Plane strain modulus

2 106 psi

Proppant

Intermediate strength ceramics

Total proppant mass

300,000 lbm

Proppant retained
permeability (after all
effects accounted for)

15,000 md

Specific gravity

3.1

Proppant pack porosity


under closure stress

0.2

Allowed maximum
added proppant
concentration in feed

15 ppga

Frac fluid

HPG 40 (Borate-crosslinked)

Rheology flow behavior


index

0.45

Rheology consistency
index

0.6 lbf sn / ft2

Slurry rate

30 bpm

Leakoff coefficient in
net pay

0.003 ft/min0.5

Spurt loss

neglect

Fluid loss multiplier out


of net pay

0.67

Table 4-8 Main Results for Example 2


Case A (k = 0.25 md)
Proppant in Fracture

300,000 lbm

Clean Liquid Needed

117,200 gal

Fraction of Proppant in Net Pay (Proppant


Placement Efficiency)

0.514

Proppant Number

0.979

Optimum (and Realized) Dimensionless


Productivity Index

JD = 0.884

Theoretical Optimum Dimensionless


Fracture Conductivity

2.35

Target half-length

426 ft

Fracture Height at Wellbore

213 ft (aspect
ratio controlled)

Fracture face Area of one Wing

71,230 ft2

Areal Proppant Concentration

2.11 lbm/ft2

Slurry Efficiency

0.416

Pad Time

42.0 min

Pumping Time

102 min

Needed Maximum Added Proppant


Concentration

7.2 ppga

Nolte Exponent and Pad Fraction for


Proppant Schedule

0.412

6
cadded, ppga

Drainage area

We use the thickness of the perforated interval as


the fracture height at the wellbore. However, if the
fracture design would call for larger lengths, we
adjust the fracture height not to exceed the aspect
ratio, AR=2xf /hf=4. (The calculations are made with
an in-house non-commercial fracture design program
written in Mathematica.)

0
0

20

40

60

80

100

t, min

Figure 4-45 Continuous and staged proppant schedule


(bottomhole) for Case A

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement


100

14
12
cadded, ppga

z, f t

50
0

10
8
6
4

- 50

2
0

- 100
0

100

200
x, ft

300

400

Figure 4-46 Created frac profile for Case A. Dashed lines


show gross pay; the gray area represents net pay (but its
exact distribution within the gross is not known)
Table 4-9 Main Results for Example 2
Case B (k = 2.5 md)
Proppant in Fracture

300,000 lbm

Clean Liquid Needed

57,600 gal

Fraction of Proppant in Net Pay


(Proppant Placement Efficiency)

0.598

Proppant Number

0.114

Theoretical Optimum Dimensionless


Productivity Index

JD,opt = 0.482

Theoretical Optimum Dimensionless


Fracture Conductivity

1.62

10

20

30
t, min

40

50

Figure 4-47 Continuous and staged proppant schedule


for Case B (at bottomhole conditions)

On the other hand, in the higher-permeability case


(k = 2.5 md), the optimum placement would call for
a short fracture (xf,opt = 175 ft), but at that length the
dynamically created width is not enough to take all the
proppant, even at the largest pumpable concentration.
We use option No. 2 of Section 4-5.5 and elongate the
fracture as much as necessary. After elongation, the target
half-length becomes 335 ft, and the height at the wellbore
remains at the minimum value of 180 ft because the
aspect ratio condition would require a smaller height (so
the already perforated 180 ft has no reason to increase).
See Table 4-9 and Fig. 4-48.

Realized Dimensionless Productivity


JD = 0.441
Index (with elongated frac)

100

Realized Dimensionless Fracture


Conductivity

1.62 / 1.912=0.444

Target half-length

335 ft (optimum
elongated by 1.91)

Fracture Height at Wellbore

180 ft (minimum /
perforation controlled)

Fracture face Area of one Wing

47,300 ft2

Areal Proppant Concentration

3.17 lbm/ft2

Slurry Efficiency

0.457

Pad Time

20.5 min

Pumping Time

54.9 min

Needed maximum added Proppant


Concentration

15 ppga (limit controlled)

z, ft

50
0
- 50
-100
0

50

100

150

200

250

300

x, ft

Nolte Exponent and Pad Fraction for


0.373
Proppant Schedule

Figure 4-48 Created frac profile for Case B, the gray


area indicates net pay (its exact distribution within the
gross is not known)

4-5.6.3 3-D models


In the lower permeability case (k = 0.25 md), the
optimum fracture half-length of 426 ft induces a fracture
height of 213 ft (via the aspect ratio condition). See Table
4-8. The fracture length creates enough dynamic width to
place the proppant with a moderate final added proppant
concentration, way below the technical limit.

After the issues of treatment size and corresponding


optimum fracture geometry are settled, it is useful to
take into account more information (if available) and
simulate the growth of the fracture. Figure 4-49 shows
additional key data necessary for simulating the fracture
propagation for Example 4-2 Case A.

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Modern Fracturing

15900

Stress
Gradient

Youngs
Modulus

Stress

16000

4-6.1 Pseudo-radial Concepts:


Equivalent Wellbore Radius, Fracture Skin

16100

TVD (ft)

4-6 Predicting Production Increase

16200
16300
16400
16500

0e

(psi)

+0
7

10
Poissons
Ratio

0e

1.

0.8

(psi/ft)

5.

0.7

0
11 00
0
12 00
0
13 00
00
0

16700
0.6

+0
6

16600

(psi)
Toughness

In the case of a propped fracture there are several


ways to incorporate the stimulation effect into the
dimensionless pseudo-steady-state productivity index
indirectly, via an additional parameter. One can use
the pseudo-skin concept:
JD =

1
,
r 3
ln e + s f
rw 4

(4-112)

or Cinco-Ley and Sameniegos (1981) f-factor


concept:
0.2

0.3

99
9.
10 990
00
.0
00

0.1

(psi^1/2)

JD =

Figure 4-49 Rock properties and stress state for 3-D


design

1
,
re 3
ln + f
xf 4

(4-113)

or Prats (1961) equivalent wellbore radius concept:


A snapshot of the areal proppant concentration at
the end of pumping as obtained with a commercial
3-D fracture simulator is shown in Fig. 4-50.
Concentration / Area (EOJ)

0
16280

200
Stress

400

600
Width
Profiles

16320

TVD, ft

16360
16400
16440
16480
16520
16560

10
11000
12000
13000
00
0

16600

JD =

1
.
re
3
ln

r 'w 4

(4-114)

The form of these expressions may induce


additional thoughts in petroleum engineers who
may be tempted to talk about pseudo-radial flow.
In reality, these expressions are all equivalent (if used
correctly) and are not associated with any deeper
information regarding the nature of the flow field. The
actual parameters, sf, f or rw can be easily converted
into each other, but they bear completely formal
meaning: They are just different scales to express the
deviation from some pre-defined basis of comparison
(the undamaged, unstimulated well). These concepts
might be handy to use in the context of some part of
the transient flow, but they might be very misleading
in other periods of the life of a well.
4-6.2 Finite Reservoir Concepts, Folds of Increase

-0.5
0
0.5
Width, in.

Stress, psi

Figure 4-50 Areal proppant concentration obtained


from 3-D design using a commercial fracture
simulator (Case A)

To make things even more blurred, fracturing engineers


like to speak about folds of increase, flow efficiency,
effective half-length, etc. Each of these concepts has
some advantages in conveying certain basic information

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

visually. There are, however, serious dangers associated


with using any of the concepts of Section 4-6.1 and
2. For instance, although Eq. 4-112 suggests that the
fracture can be represented by a pseudo-skin, it is not true
that the same pseudo-skin value can be used in transient
regime as in pseudo-steady-state regime. Also, we already
saw in Example 4-1 that the achievable pseudo-skin is
limited partly by the fracture and partly by the well/
reservoir system, including the location of its boundaries.
This is why we suggest using JD directly. Equation 4114 might suggest that an equivalent wellbore radius
remains the same in various flow regimes (and this idea
might be reinforced further if we speak about effective
fracture length) but in reality none of these indicators
can be used in such a general way. Strictly speaking, the
productivity is a common feature of the reservoir, the
fracture, the boundaries and the actual flow history.
4-6.3 Combining Productivity
Index and Material Balance
In order to forecast production from a fractured well,
we need to combine the Productivity Index with
material balance.
4-6.3.1 Pseudo-steady state

such a complete presentation is possible only for


well-defined flow history. Mathematically, the
easiest method is to handle the constant-rate type
of flow history. In such case, the late-time stabilized
part is called pseudo-steady state. Other types of
flow histories (such as the one implicitly defined
by constant wellbore pressure) may lead to slightly
different productivity indices at any moment of time;
even their stabilized values might differ in pseudosteady state (Helmy and Wattenbarger, 1998).
Of course, it is possible to calculate a productivity
index curve for any specified rate history, but this
would be impractical in general. In reality, we do
not know the production history that will happen
in the fractured well in the future. Fortunately, the
productivity index curve obtained with the constantrate condition is generally a good average indicator
that provides a reasonably accurate forecast of any
particular production history. Valk and Amini
(2007) developed a reliable and efficient procedure,
the method of Distributed Volumetric Sources (DVS),
to generate the combined JD curve that describes
both transient and stabilized (pseudo-steady state)
production regimes.
Example 4-3: Transient and Pseudo-steady State
Dimensionless Productivity Index

1424 T

as a function of the average reservoir pressure, p .


4-6.3.2 Combined transient and stabilized flow

We calculate the productivity index of a fractured


vertical well with CfD=1.6 and Ix = 0.25 (pseudosteady state optimum for Nprop = 0.1) using the DVS
method (Valk and Amini, 2007). See Figure 4-51.
Dimensionless Productivity Index, JD

The pseudo-steady-state value of JD can be easily


obtained from Figs. 4-42 and 4-43, or from the
FracPi spreadsheet (see Section 4-5.3). Optimum
values can be also calculated from correlations
(see Section 2-5.1).
After we know the JD value, we can obtain
the Absolute Openflow Potential (expressed in
mscf/day) from:

kx k y h
(4-115)
AOF =
J D m ( p ),

102
Calculation Parameters:
CfD = 1.6
Ix = wx/xe = .025

101

100

10-1
10-7

10-6

10-5

10-4

10-3

10-2

10-1

100

101

Dimensionless Time, tDA

To describe the production (often quite significant)


during the transient period, we need a description of
JD covering the whole time span. Strictly speaking,

Figure 4-51 Transient and pseudo-steady-state


dimensionless productivity index (Nprop = 0.1) calculated
with the DVS method (Example 4-3)

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Modern Fracturing

The productivity index stabilizes around


dimensionless time, tDA = 0.3 (with respect to the
drainage area). The stabilized value is JD = 0.470
according to the DVS method. This compares well
with the Unified Fracture Design value of JD = 0.467
(and probably is even more accurate).
The transient flow regime can last for months or
even years for tight gas wells. It is sometimes speculated
that a fracture designed for optimum with respect to
pseudo-steady state would somehow under-perform
if we also take into account the transient period. This
is actually a misunderstanding. For short times, some
(shorter and wider) fractures can outperform the
pseudo-steady state optimized fracture, but sooner or
later the latter will catch up. By the time the whole
drainage volume is affected (that is, at dimensionless time
about 0.3), the pseudo-steady state optimal fracture is
not only the best for the current productivity, but also
has produced the maximum cumulatively with regard to
the given drawdown history, or the least final drawdown
with regard to the given production history.
A rather straightforward approach to
forecasting the production from a fractured well is
depicted in Table 4-10.
Table 4-10 Production Forecast Method (Field units)
1. Prepare pseudopressure function (see Section 2-3.1) from
p

m( p ) = 2

p0

p
dp.
( Z ) p

2. Specify initial pressure.


3. Specify wellbore flowing pressure.
4. Take a time interval, t.
5. Calculate production rate and production in the time interval
(see also Section 2-3.2) from:

V = Awavg

and

G p = qsc t.
6. Apply material balance and calculate new average pressure
(Section 2-7.1) from

p=

pi Z G p
1 .
Z i Gi

7. Repeat steps 1 6.

The notation JD,tDA in step 5 means that


we should use the dimensionless productivity
index corresponding to the dimensionless
equivalent of the current time (elapsed from the
start of the production.)
4-6.4 Reservoir Simulation and Nodal Analysis
In their everyday jobs, petroleum engineers rely
more and more on reservoir simulators and wellbore
simulators. One of the key trends in the industry is
to integrate these powerful tools (and provide them
with as much information as possible). One should
keep in mind, however, that the use of such an
ultimate tool neither is nor ever will be easy. Fitfor-purpose simulators and semi-analytic methods
are readily available and are usually more practical
for optimization. As a further illustration we
consider a non-trivial problem.
Example 4-4: Horizontal well with transverse fractures
in an anisotropic reservoir
We are to place four transverse fractures
intersecting a horizontal well in an anisotropic
reservoir. The drainage volume and permeability
anisotropy are shown in Fig. 4-52.
The well will also contribute to the production
and is considered to be of infinite conductivity.
The four fractures are of finite conductivity
(infinite-conductivity fractures are more a
mathematical construction than reality) and suffer
from convergence skin (see Section 2-5.3). The
total amount of proppant used is 100,000 lbm,
and the retained permeability of the proppant pack
is kf=10,000 md. The specific gravity of the
proppant material is 2.65, and the porosity
of the proppant pack is 0.3.
The reader may have the opinion that the
ultimate method of calculating production from such
a complex well/fracture system is to use a reservoir
simulator with a wellbore model. That is a possibility
because the simulator can handle multiple transverse
fractures with finite conductivity. However, despite
all the progress made in reservoir simulation, such a
task might be challenging even today.

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Dimensionless Productivity Index, JD

kx= 4 md
ky= 0.25 md
kz= 0.1 md
ze=100 ft
kx
kz
xe=1320 ft

ky

ye=1320 ft

10
7
5

3
2
1.5
1
0.00001

0.0001

0.001

0.01

0.1

Dimensionless Time, tDA

Figure 4-52 Drainage volume in anisotropic reservoir


(for Example 4-4)

Figure 4-54 Log-log plot of the transient and pseudosteady state productivity index for Example 4-4. The
stabilized value is JD = 1.8

4-7 Fracturing Under Specific


Circumstances
ze

kz

kx
ky

xe
ye

Figure 4-53 Horizontal well (rw = 0.3 ft) drilled in the


direction of minimum horizontal stress (and minimum
horizontal permeability). The horizontal well is 75%
penetrating and is intersected by four transverse
fractures created from a total of 100,000 lbm proppant
(for Example 4-4)

Using the DVS method, one can find out that


for the configuration shown in Figs. 4-52 and 4-53,
the optimum fracture half length is xf=78 ft, and the
optimum areal proppant concentration is 4.6 lbm/
ft2.(This quite large value is not surprising because it
should compensate the detrimental effects of converging
flow in the fractures.) The resulting transient and
pseudo-steady state JD is shown in Fig. 4-54.
After the transient and stabilized productivity of
the well/fracture configuration is known, it can be
easily incorporated into a reservoir simulation model
and/or a nodal analysis model. However, in such a case
the actual productivity of the complex well/fracture
architecture is not an output of the simulation tool,
but rather an input to it.

There are various different types of hydraulic fractures,


which have evolved around the basic process of creating a
fracture and then propping it open. The type of treatment
selected depends upon formation characteristics
(permeability, skin damage, fluid sensitivity, formation
strength), treatment objectives (stimulation, sand control,
skin bypass or a combination) and practical constraints
(cost, logistics, equipment etc).
4-7.1 Tight Gas
This type of fracturing is often carried out in tight
gas formations, found in areas such as the Rocky
Mountains, Algeria, Western Germany, parts
of Australia and many other places worldwide.
Permeabilities for such formations range from 1 md
down to 1 d and less.
Tight gas formations are referred to as tight
because they have low permeability and are also usually
composed of so-called hard rocks. In the context of
fracturing, hard means high Youngs modulus and
low fracture toughness, which in turn means that any
fracture produced in such a formation will tend to be
long and thin. This is one if the rare instances in the
production of oil and gas where the natural tendencies
of the formation work in our favor because the ideal
fracture geometry for low-permeability formations
(see below) is also long and thin.

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Modern Fracturing

Tight gas fracturing forms by far the largest sector


of the fracturing industry. In 2006, over 36% of the
fracture treatments performed by one of the leading
service companies were in formations of below 0.1 md
(and this does not include treatments performed in
coalbed methane or gas shale formations). Most of the
industrys perceptions of hydraulic fracturing originate
from this sector of the business. Many gas reservoirs
can only be produced because of hydraulic fracturing.
In many areas, there is such confidence in the process
that whole fields are developed without any hope of
ever being economic without fracturing.

to be long. This means that the fracturing fluid has


to suspend the proppant for a relatively long period
of time at bottomhole temperature.
Therefore, hydraulic fracture treatments in lowpermeability formations tend to have fairly large
fluid and proppant volumes, although the overall
proppant concentration in the fluid is relatively
low. Pad volumes are small. Treatment fluids are
usually fairly robust, capable of maintaining viscosity
for extended periods of time.

4-7.1.1 The Importance of Inflow Area

It is not uncommon to perform pressure transient


testing on fractured tight gas wells. Because of the
reciprocal productivity index methods pioneered by
Crafton (1997) (see Section 3-7), operators can do this
with post-treatment production data, rather than having
to wait inordinately long periods of time for pressure
build-up data. More often than not, this analysis shows
that the effective propped fracture length is much less
than that predicted by the simulators. Obviously, some
of this inconsistency is due to the inaccuracies of the
fracture simulators. However, it is also apparent (e.g.,
Cramer, 2003) that fractures in tight gas formations
are also susceptible to loss in effective fracture length
for a variety of reasons. This is because fracture
width is very limited, especially towards the fracture
tip, and conductivity is relatively low. As a result, it
does not take very much damage to the fracture to
change sections of the propped length from infinite
conductivity (i.e., no significant pressure drop) to
finite conductivity (significant pressure drop). When
a fracture has some sections of finite and some sections
of infinite conductivity, it will behave as if it were a
shorter fracture of infinite conductivity.

In order for hydrocarbons to flow down the fracture,


rather than through the adjacent formation,
the fracture must be more conductive than the
formation. Given that the permeability for 20/40
frac sand is 275 darcies (if closure pressure is
below 3,000 psi), we can see that even a very narrow
fracture will have a much higher conductivity than
the formation. This does not consider the effects of
non-Darcy flow (see Section 2-5).
Therefore, the most significant limiting factor
defining how far the reservoir production has
increased is not how conductive the fracture is (any
realistic propped fracture will be significantly more
conductive than the formation), but rather how easily
the formation can deliver the hydrocarbons to the
fracture. Therefore, when treating low-permeability
reservoirs, fractures should be designed with a specific
minimum fracture conductivity and a large surface area.
Because formations are usually limited in height, this
means designing for maximum fracture half length,
xf. See Section 4-5.2 for a detailed discussion of how to
determine the required fracture conductivity.
Because formation permeability is low,
fluid leakoff also tends to be low. This has two
consequences. First, pad volumes tend to be very
low, relative to the rest of the job volumes. In some
cases, a pad is hardly needed at all; the proppantladen fluid can be used to create the fracture. The
second consequence is that fracture closure time
the length of time taken for the fracture to close on
the proppant after the treatment has finished tends

4-7.1.2 Effective vs Actual Propped Length

Causes of such losses of fracture conductivity include:


Loss of fracture width due to embedment.
Loss of fracture conductivity due to proppant
crushing (i.e., poor-quality proppant and/or
higher than expected closure stress).
Loss of fracture conductivity due to damage from
fracturing fluid residues (poor fluid design and/or
treatment execution).

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

Loss of fracture conductivity and/or length


due to immobile fluids (reservoir fluids or
fracturing fluids).
Insufficient fracture conductivity due to poor
treatment design.
Reduction in effective fracture permeability
due to unexpected multiphase and/or nonDarcy flow effects.
It is important to realize that good treatment
design, together with selecting suitable fluid and
proppant systems, can go a long way to mitigating
or even eliminating these effects. However, it is
also important to realize that fractures in tight
gas wells are particularly susceptible to loss of
effective fracture length, and this must be allowed
for during treatment design.
4-7.2 High-Rate Gas Wells
4-7.2.1 Non-Darcy Flow

Section 2-3.1 introduced the concept of non-Darcy


flow within the reservoir and also introduced the
Forcheimer equation (Eq. 2-2). Non-Darcy flow can
also be a significant problem within the propped
fracture. For linear flow along a propped fracture, the
Forcheimer equation is usually expressed as:
p
L

v
k


=
+ v 2 .

(4-116)

The left-hand side of Eq. 4-116 represents the total


energy lost per unit length. The expression ( / k)
represents the energy loss due to viscous friction effects
and the expression (v2) is a kinetic energy term that
represents energy loss due to non-Darcy inertial flow
effects. The constant, , is specific to a given proppant
type and closure stress, and can usually be obtained from
tables provided by proppant manufacturers/suppliers.
In hydraulic fracturing, the inertial flow
effects manifest themselves as an effective drop in
proppant permeability; this needs to be allowed
for during treatment design. Data for this is widely
available (such as from Stim-Labs excellent PredictK
software) if the engineer has some idea of the
expected post-treatment flow rate.

The phenomenon of non-Darcy flow


through proppant is covered in more detail
in Section 8-7.3.
4-7.2.2 Wellbore Connectivity

As discussed in detail in Section 2-5, turbulence


can have significant effects on the production
from high rate gas wells, due to the constriction
of flow at the connection between the propped
fracture and the wellbore. Often, a hydraulic
fracture will only connect to the wellbore via a
small number of propped perforations and this
can have a significant impact on post-treatment
production from high rate gas wells. Not only is
production reduced because of turbulence effects,
but the extremely high flow velocities seen in
such areas can produce excessive drag forces on
individual proppant grains. This can lead to
proppant flow back (see Section 8-10).
Efficient and effective treatment design, coupled
with an engineered perforation strategy, can do
a lot to mitigate these effects. However, they
can still be significant and must be allowed for
when designing a treatment. For instance, there is
little point in pumping a 600,000 lbm treatment
with a length of 400 ft, when the near wellbore
turbulence effects make it behave like a 150,000
lbm, 200-ft-long treatment.
The issues surrounding the connectivity of
the fracture to the wellbore will be discussed in
detail in Chapter 6.
4-7.3 High-Permeability Wells
High-permeability fracturing is, not unexpectedly,
the opposite of low-permeability fracturing. In
high-permeability formations, moving the fluid
through the rock to the fracture is relatively easy.
The difficulty lies in creating a fracture that has
sufficient conductivity to increase productivity. This
means that for this type of treatment, generating
sufficient fracture conductivity is more important
than generating fracture length (remembering that the
fracture needs to be of sufficient size to mitigate the
effects of turbulence in the formation).

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Modern Fracturing

4-7.3.1 The Importance of Fracture Conductivity

With reference to Eq. 4-108, in order to maintain the


ideal fracture conductivity of 1.6 (see Section 4-5.2)
as formation permeability increases, it is necessary
to increase width, increase proppant permeability
and/or reduce fracture half length. Given that for
a specific treatment, proppant permeability will
be fixed, then there will be an ideal relationship
between propped length and propped width.
Maintaining this relationship for increasing formation
permeability means designing treatments that are
increasingly short and wide.
In such fracture/formation systems, the factor that
controls post-treatment production is the pressure drop
through the proppant pack. These fractures are often
referred to as finite-conductivity fractures.
4-7.3.2 The Tip Screenout

As previously discussed, the relationship between fracture


length, width and height is defined by the formation
rock mechanical characteristics and is generally outside
the control of the frac engineer. Usually, all that can be
controlled is the fracture volume and the final propped
width (because the initial, created fracture width will close
onto the proppant and hence the proppant concentration
per unit area will control the final width).
However, as permeability rises, it becomes
increasingly difficult to produce sufficient width
without also generating excessive length. A point is
reached at which is it no longer possible to generate
sufficient width; without artificial intervention,
fractures would not be effective. This permeability
is in the region of 50 to 100 md. Above this
permeability range, it is necessary to use a technique
known as the Tip Screenout (TSO) in order to
artificially generate extra width.
With reference to Fig. 4-55, a TSO is achieved by
forcing proppant into the fracture tip at a relatively
early stage in the treatment. As the proppant collects
in the fracture tip, a pressure differential is created
by fluid trying to penetrate through the proppant to
reach the tip. In the main body of the fracture, pnet >
pext, which means the energy in the fluid is sufficient
to make the fracture propagate, if this pressure is

transmitted to the tip. However, as proppant builds


up in the tip, the pressure at the tip will fall until
it is no longer sufficient to make the fracture
grow. This is the TSO.
Proppant

Fracture Tip

pnet

Figure 4-55 Diagram illustrating the tip screenout

However, fluid is still being pumped into the


formation at a (usually) constant rate. Given that the
TSO will not significantly affect the fluid leakoff rate
(at least initially), the fracture volume has to increase
at the same rate, even though the fracture is no
longer gaining length and height. This means that the
fracture width has to increase.
As the tip screenout occurs, the net pressure starts
to rise because this is usually directly proportional to
fracture width. The rate at which the net pressure
starts to rise is controlled by the formations Youngs
modulus: If the rock is too hard, the pressure will
rise too quickly and the treatment will soon be over.
Therefore, in order for a formation to be a candidate
for a TSO treatment, it must have sufficiently high
fluid leakoff to allow proppant accumulation in the
fracture tip and sufficiently low Youngs modulus so
that the pressure does not rise too quickly.
4-7.4 Unconsolidated Formations
The majority of high-permeability fracture treatments are
performed in weak or unconsolidated formations. Such
treatments are often referred to as frac and packs or
simply frac-packs because they combine the effects of
fracture stimulation and gravel packing.
4-7.4.1 Re-Stressing the Formation

An undisturbed formation will normally exist in a state


of three-dimensional compressive stress. Drilling the
wellbore and applying a drawdown radically change
the stresses. Although the tangential and vertical

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

stresses will remain compressive, the radial stresses may


become tensile. When this happens in a weak or poorly
consolidated formation, sand production occurs.
The major mechanism for controlling sand
production (sand control) is re-stressing the formation.
In this process, proppant is forced into any void spaces
behind the casing (including perforation tunnels),
physically compressing the formation. As the slurry is
pumped into these areas, the voids fill up and a screenout
will occur. The higher the pressure rise that results, the
more the formation is compressed, or re-stressed.
Fracturing the formation offers an unparalleled
opportunity to re-stress the formation because
the fracture width will compress the formation
either side of the frac.
4-7.4.2 The Frac-Pack Treatment

The main elements of a frac-pack completion are


illustrated in Fig. 4-56. Put simply, the treatment is
pumped down the tubing and into the crossover tool.
The crossover tool transfers the flow into the annulus
between the casing and the blank pipe. The slurry then
flows down between the screens and the casing, and then
on into the perforations.

to ensure the maximum possible re-stressing of the


formation. Therefore, the final stage is designed with
extra slurry, so that the screen/casing annulus is filled
with proppant after the screenout.
4-7.5 Skin-Bypass Treatments
Skin-bypass treatments are designed to do exactly
what the name describes bypass skin damage.
These treatments are not necessarily designed to
be the absolute optimum stimulation treatment for
the well. Instead, these treatments are designed to
be small, cost-effective and easy to perform. Often
these treatments are pumped in places where space
or equipment weight is a limiting factor, such
as offshore. In many cases, if the engineer were
given a technical free hand to design the optimum
treatment, the job would be much larger. However,
given the restraints of cost and space that are often
placed upon engineers, the skin-bypass frac is an
attempt (often highly successful) to produce effective
stimulation. Rae et al. (1999) derived the following
equation for predicting production increase from a
skin-bypass fracture treatment:

Jo

Tubing
Packer Elements
Slips

Crossover Tool
Blank Pipe
Proppant

Screens
Sump Packer

Figure 4-56 Typical components of a frac-pack completion

The treatment is designed as a conventional highpermeability TSO treatment. The only exceptions are
that the treatment is designed to screenout at the end

ln (re rw ) + s
JF
=
,

ln 4 (C fD x fD )

(4-117)

where s is the skin factor of the unfractured well,


Jo is the initial PI of the well, JF is the PI of the
fractured well and xfD is the dimensionless fracture
half length (i.e. xf/re).
The skin-bypass frac can also be considered as a
more effective alternative to matrix acidizing when
factors such as mineralogy, temperature, logistics and
cost prevent the use of acid.
Figure 4-57 shows the basic concept behind
the skin bypass frac. Although the formation has
considerable damage (dark-shaded area), this is
effectively bypassed by the more conductive path
created by the fracture. In order for the fracture to
produce a production increase, it does not have to
be more conductive than the formation. It merely
has to be more conductive than the damaged area.
Of course, normally the fracture conductivity is
significantly higher than this. Given that skinbypass fracs are normally carried out on marginal

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Modern Fracturing

wells (wells that cannot justify the expense of


a major stimulation treatment), often economics
dictate that significant production increase (over
and above that obtained from bypassing the
skin) must be obtained.

form is the wellbore and the next best place for it


to form is the fracture. The worst place for it to
form is the formation.
To that effect, fractures are designed to minimize the
pressure drop in the reservoir. This produces the same effect
on fracture geometry as having low permeability: The
inflow area (and hence xf) needs to be at a maximum.
4-7.7 Shale Gas and Coal Bed Methane
A more detailed discussion of the specific aspects of
fracturing these types of unconventional reservoir will
be the subject of Chapter 11.
4-7.7.1 Gas Shales

Permeability
Low

High

Figure 4-57 Skin bypass fracture penetrating through


skin damage

4-7.6 Condensate Dropout


4-7.6.1 Description of Phenomena

The phenomenon of retrograde condensation was


described in detail in Section 2-2 and illustrated
in Fig. 2-1. Put simply, for wet gas reservoirs,
as the pressure falls, liquids can condense out of
the gas mixture. This can result in a reduction of
the relative permeability to gas due to changes in
saturation and the development of immobile fluid
banks. In the context of fractured wells, retrograde
condensation can be a problem if the condensate
builds up in or around the fracture.

Fracturing in gas-bearing shales (such as the Barnett shale


in north-central Texas) has become a major focus of the
fracturing industry over the last few years, see Fig. 1-13
(Lancaster et al., 1992, Fisher et al., 2004, and Schein et
al., 2004). Although the shales are porous and contain
significant quantities of gas, they have almost no matrix
permeability. Production is through natural fractures.
Hydraulic fracturing concentrates on trying
to link up the natural fractures. Treatments are
extreme; rates over 100 bpm are common, with
proppant concentrations rarely exceeding 2 ppga. The
treatments try to link sets of natural fractures with
the absolute minimum fracture conductivity. Even
with such low proppant concentrations, the fracture
still acts with infinite conductivity because matrix
permeability is so low. The proppant is carried in slick
water, and so the high rates are needed to carry the
proppant deep into the formation.
4-7.7.2 Coal Bed Methane

4-7.6.2 Mitigating the Effect of Dropout

Generally speaking, condensate dropout will occur


wherever the gas pressure and temperature changes
enough to move the gas into the two-phase envelope
in Fig. 2-1. If this happens in the formation or the
fracture, conductivity will be reduced.
The process of designing fractures to mitigate
the effects of condensate dropout is based on the
principle that the best place for condensate to

Hydraulic fracturing is one of several completion


methods used successfully in coal beds. The choice
of method depends upon the highly variable nature
of the coal seams. However, fracturing is probably
the most widely used method (Nimerick et al.,
1991, and Cramer, 1992).
The vast majority of the coal bed methane (CBM)
fracturing takes place in 9 or 10 major basins in the US,
Australia, Canada and China. CBM fracturing also takes

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Chapter 4 Hydraulic Fracture Design for Production Enhancement

place in the UK, the Middle East and Russia. In all of


these places, each particular coal field or basin tends to be
dominated by a single operating company.
Each of these basins has its own particular
characteristics, in terms of the age and maturity of the
coal, reservoir pressure, fines mobility, water production
and mechanical characteristics of the coal seams and
surrounding rock layers. As a result, each operating
company has developed its own particular method for
producing the gas, and when this involves fracturing,
each has developed its own method for this as well.
CBM fracturing remains to this day, very difficult
to simulate on a computer. Conventional models
cannot be applied to the coal due to the extensive
cleat systems that exist in the seams, the extremely
plastic nature of the coal and the shear decoupling
that exists between the coal and the over- and underlying rock strata. Without the aid of reliable fracture
models, engineers have developed a number of rules
of thumb for CBM fracturing, most of which are
specific to a particular basin.
4-7.8 Acid Fracturing
Acid fracturing is an alternative to proppant fracturing
in carbonate reservoirs (King, 1986, and Kalfayan,
2007). The process relies on acid etching of the
fracture face, rather than the placing of proppant, to
produce conductivity. Consequently, its intentional
use has been limited to carbonate formations, which
are usually > 95% soluble in acid systems. However, it
has also been suggested that with modern acid systems,
these techniques could be applied to sandstone
reservoirs (di Lullo and Rae, 1996).
4-7.8.1 Description of Process

The basic difference between acid fracturing and


proppant fracturing is that the fracture conductivity
is generated by the acid reacting with the formation
at the fracture faces, rather than by the placement of
proppant. To start, a non-reactive pad fluid is pumped
into the formation to create a fracture with the desired
half length. This is followed by the acid system, which
is usually as concentrated as is practical (the most
commonly used acid fracturing fluid is 28% HCl), so

that as much rock volume as possible can be removed.


The acid system is also usually viscosified to reduce
wellbore friction, to suspend and transport any fines
released by the acid, and to retard the acid reaction rate.
Crosslinked acid systems are commonly used to retard
the reaction rate even further. A combination of retarded
reaction rate and high pumping rate is intended to get
live acid as far from the wellbore as possible.
It is usual practice to pump acid fractures at high
rate, usually the maximum rate possible based on
equipment, completion and wellhead constraints. This
allows the acid to penetrate as far from the wellbore as
possible, while minimizing the near-wellbore pinching
effect described by Roodhart et al. (1993).
At the end of the treatment, the fracture is allowed to
close and the spent acid flowed back as soon as possible.
However, sometimes a closed fracture acidizing treatment
may be performed (Frederickson, 1986). This consists of
pumping additional acid down the closed fracture, below
fracturing pressure, to widen the etched width of the
fracture and hence artificially increase conductivity.
Generally, acid fracturing is limited to harder rock
formations because soft formations will plastically
deform into the etched width created by the acid,
reducing and sometimes eliminating the effects of
the treatment. In addition, acid fracture conductivity
tends to be significantly less than that which can be
generated by proppant fracturing. These two facts
mean that fracture acidizing is generally performed
on lower-permeability, tight carbonate formations,
rather than soft, more permeable rocks.
The design of acid fracture treatments is generally
much less scientific than the process of designing a
propped fracture treatment. Available simulators tend
to be very primitive and almost unusable. In addition,
it is often very difficult to estimate etched width and
length. Consequently, treatments are usually refined on
an empirical basis over a campaign.
4-7.8.2 Estimating Fracture Conductivity

The most reliable method for estimating acid fracture


conductivity was presented by Nierode and Kruk (1973).
Other methods, including laboratory testing, have been
developed subsequently, but none have proved to be as
reliable. A summary of the method follows.

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Modern Fracturing

The created fracture conductivity, Cf (md-ft), can


be calculated using etched fracture width, wetch (in.),
rock embedment strength, SRE (psi), and closure
pressure, pc, (psi):
C f = C1eC2 pc and
7

2.47

C1 = 1.47 10 wetch .

(4-118)
(4-119)

The average etched fracture width, wetch, can be obtained


by calculating the volume of rock dissolved by the acid
and dividing by the fracture area. The C2 term is related
to rock embedment strength, SRE (see also Economides et
al., 1994, pp. 412-413) as follows:
C2 = 0.001(13.9 1.3 ln S RE )

for SRE < 20,000 psi or

for SRE > 20,000 psi.

1. Foam (acid and non-acid)


2. Ball sealers (only in perforated wellbores)
3. Benzoic acid flakes and other soluble particulates
4. Viscoelastic surfactant systems
5. Self-viscosifying acid (as the acid neutralizes, the
pH rises and a crosslinker becomes active, causing
a dramatic increase in viscosity).

(4-120)

C2 = 0.001(3.8 0.28 ln S RE )

treatment produces less fracture conductivity than


proppant fracturing. Selected recommended diversion
techniques are listed below, presented in no particular
order. Their use depends upon specific wellbore and
operational circumstances. It is usual practice when
fracture acidizing to use separate diversion stages, so
that a treatment sequence could be pad, acid, overflush,
diversion, and then repeating as often as required before
concluding with a final over-displacement.

References
(4-121)

The rock embedment strength has to be determined


experimentally from core or outcrop samples. Extensive
library data for SRE is available for many of the more
commonly fractured carbonate formations.
The obtained acid fracture conductivity can
be used in the expression of dimensionless fracture
conductivity (Eq. 4-108) instead of the product kfw.
Therefore, using the penetration ratio Ix, an equivalent
proppant number can also be calculated using Eq. 4110; consequently Unified Fracture Design is readily
applicable for acid fracture design.
4-7.8.3 Use of Diversion Techniques

One major difference between propped fracturing and


fracture acidizing is the use of diversion techniques. In
propped fracturing, precise control over fluid and slurry
placement along the wellbore is required to maintain
control over fracture dimensions and to ensure that a
treatment is not over-displaced. This is not so critical
for acid fracturing. Consequently, acid fracturing can
become the stimulation method of choice over long
perforated intervals and multiple intervals, even if the

Advanti, S.H., Khattib, H., and Lee, J.K.: Hydraulic


Fracture Geometry Modeling, Prediction and
Comparisons, paper SPE 13863, 1985.
Agarwal, R.G.: A New Method to Account for
Producing Time Effects When Drawdown Type
Curves are Used to Analyze Pressure Buildup and
Other Test Data, paper SPE 9289, September
1980.
Arihara, N., Abbaszadeh, M., Wright, C.A. and Hyodo,
M.: Integration of Fracturing Dynamics and
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of True Net Fracturing Pressures Generated by
Pumping Fluids with Different Rheology into the
Same Formations, paper SPE 26153, June 1993.
Wyllie, M.R.J., Gregory, A.R., and Gardner, L.W.:
Elastic Wave Velocities in Heterogeneous and
Porous Media, Geophysics, 21, 41-70, 1956.
Wyllie, M.R.J., Gregory, A.R., and Gardner, G.H.F.:
An Experimental Investigation of Factors
Affecting Elastic Wave Velocities in Porous Media,
Geophysics, 23, 459-493, 1958.
Wyllie, M.R.J., Gregory, A.R., and Gardner, G.H.F.,
Studies of Elastic Wave Attenuation in Porous
Media, Geophysics, 27, 569-589, 1963.
Yale, D.P., and Jamieson Jr., W.H.: Static and Dynamic
Rock Mechanical Properties in the Hugoton and
Panoma Fields, Kansas, paper SPE 27939, May,
1994.
Yew, C.H. and Liu, G.F.: Fracture Tip and Critical
Stress Intensity Factor of a Hydraulically Induced
Fracture, paper SPE 22875, SPE Prod. & Fac., no
3, 8, 171-177, August 1993.
Yuster, S.T. and Calhoun, J.C., Jr.: Pressure Parting of
Formations in Water Flood Operations Part I,
Oil Weekly, March 12, 1945.
Yuster, S.T. and Calhoun, J.C., Jr.: Pressure Parting of

Formations in Water Flood Operations Part II,


Oil Weekly, March 19, 1945.

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David Ross is an associate director of InTuition Energy Associates Ltd., an organization that provides oil
& gas training in technology developments, challenges and applications. He has a BS degree in petroleum
engineering from the University of Texas. Immediately after graduating, he began his career with BJ Services
Company. During 24 years at BJ Services, Ross gained a broad range of experience in the engineering
disciplines of hydraulic fracturing, well cementing, acidizing, sand control, completion fluids and coiled
tubing services. He worked in a wide range of geographical environments including Alaska, Europe / North
Sea, South America, Southeast Asia, Russia, the Middle East, Canada as well as South & West Texas. Ross
has been active in the SPE and has authored or co-authored numerous technical papers about cement slurry
designs, completion techniques, sandstone acidizing systems, personnel training and QHSE management
systems. He was also a principal co-author of the Formation Damage and Clear Brine Completion Fluids
technical manuals. He has also been named a 2007-2008 SPE Distinguished Lecturer.

George King has worked 36 years with the BP organization since joining Amoco in 1971. He has been
involved with nearly all phases of oil and gas well completions, stimulations, workover processes and
operations applications and has held the title of distinguished advisor since 1991. Current activities include
mentoring, teaching, field reviews, innovation issues, problem well analysis, intervention designs and general
consulting in the area of production engineering. Degrees include a BS inchemistry from Oklahoma State
University, and a BS in chemical engineering and MS in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa.
Technical accomplishments include two patents, 52 technical papers, a book on completions and workovers,
the SPE Production and Operations Award in 2004, the Amoco Chairmans Award for technology from
Amoco in 1997, SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 1985-86, lecturer in the SPE Short Course series in 1999,
and Technical Chairman for the SPE Annual meeting in 1992.

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Chapter 5
Well Completions
David Ross, InTuition Energy Associates and
George King, BP

5-1 Wellbore Construction


Optimum gas well completion design combines
continuing reservoir engineering assessment and
knowledge of production rate and characteristics to
achieve the best reservoir access from the most efficient
wellbore design. The design often must allow access
to reservoir sections from compact and often remote
entrance points such as platforms and pad locations.
Multiple flow regimes may exist in a single wellbore.
The efficiency of well operations over the economic
life of the well is affected by the changes in fluid types
and rates, reservoir stresses, pressure support, the
overall well design and operational decisions.
5-1.1 Effects of Uncertainty
in Reservoir Description
A good reservoir description can lead to better well
completion, one that can be fitted to the reservoir and
the changing well characteristics. Uncertainty in data,
both initial and current, may result in serious flaws
in well design and sharp reduction in hydrocarbon
recovery. Often design-sensitive reservoir factors
such as permeability, porosity, saturations, pressure,
barriers, drive systems and flow paths are only fully
known after most of the wells in the field have been
drilled, completed and produced. Thus, often for long
periods there is a requirement for the design to have
flexibility for re-completion to achieve maximum
recovery. Unless the engineer regularly reviews the
available data and updates the flowing model, recovery
opportunity will be wasted. A well or field depletion
plan, supported by surveillance and modeling
exercises, is necessary for achieving the best well
completion. Maximizing the economics of a project
requires that early cost-saving learning be recognized
immediately and the well design be changeable during
the period between field discovery and the drilling of

the final well. If well design or well locations are not


changeable, the value improvements possible from the
learning curve are largely lost.
In many cases after initial drilling and completion,
reservoir barriers and flow paths are finally recognized
and re-drilling, re-completion or unplanned stimulations
are needed to fully and efficiently exploit the reservoir.
For a good initial completion, it is important to collect
and accurately assess the data at the earliest possible
time, and to build flexibility into the design for later
operations. Batch completions, where logging or
production data are not fully considered until the end of
the operation, depend on certainties and understandings
that are not usually available during initial drilling and
completion. Batch completions may save drilling cost,
but they can sharply reduce recovery in the field or
sharply increase re-completion cost later.
5-1.2 Fitting Well Design to the Reservoir Potential
Gas well completion design must fit the needs of the
producing well throughout its lifetime. The life of
a gas well may range from a few years in a deepwater,
high-permeability formation, to 40 to 60 years in an
onshore tight gas reservoir. The physical changes that
a gas well undergoes during its life are remarkable and
often challenge the design limits. A 20,000 ft (6097 m)
HPHT well in a stacked pay in south Louisiana (USA),
for example, went from nearly 16,000 psig (1088 barg)
BHP, at rates of 30 MMscf/D (0.87 MMsm3/d) and very
minor water, to BHP of 4000 psig (272 barg), rate of
< 1 MMscf/D (< 0.028 MMsm3/D), increased water and
sand production, all in a two-year period.
Production of fluids from any reservoir to the
surface is a system approach of managing pressure drops.
Increasing the drawdown pressure from the reservoir to
the sales line is usually the goal. Optimizing this pressure
drop starts with the completion design and continues
every day of production through the economic life of the
well. The flowing system is dynamic and requires constant
optimization. Tightly locking a completion design in
place minimizes the options for optimizing flow and
production enhancement by moving proved undeveloped
reserves to proved developed reserves, and ultimately
reduces recovery. Leaving flexibility in the design allows
gas flow to be optimized from the turbulence restrictions

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Modern Fracturing

of initial production from a high-pressure, high-rate gas


well to the removal of hydrostatic head and compression
needed in a low-pressure, low-rate gas well.

3. Inflow Performance: The flowing connection of


a reservoir into the well is the source of many of
the problems with high skin values and resultant
production loss from tortuosity, macro- and
micro-barriers, and flow-path connection.
(See Section 2-3 for inflow performance
calculations.) The effect of the damage on the
average permeability of a zone is a function of
level of damage and zone thickness:

5-1.3 Well Design


The design of a gas well completion can be divided into
four major parts:
1. Drilling the Pay. The completion begins when the
drill bit penetrates the pay. Every action - pressure
differential; mud, fluid, or cement loss; time of
contact; and fluid loss control operation adds
potential for near-well damage. A good point to
remember is that invariably everything done during
drilling can result in some formation damage.
2. Mechanical Design. A well is a pressure vessel with
often a hundred or more threaded connections,
a remotely placed sealing system (cement), and
a dependence on mechanical devices and fluids
to form barriers for control of pressure and fluid
movement. Putting it simply, a well is designed
from the bottom to the top and from the inside out.
The required size of the bottom-most completion
assembly (usually tubing size or pump size) sets the
required casing size, the drilled-hole size and the
entire upper casing string/bit selection. If the casing
design cannot be run as planned, well production
may be affected because smaller pipe will force a
curtailment of flow through smaller bottomhole
equipment. Well design is a sequence of casing and
tubing strings and mechanical isolation devices
that provide usually two or more barriers when
placed on production. Tubular and joint thread
selections are based on burst, collapse, tension,
completion bending, and other loads and forces.
These conditions change from the initial tubular
running through the complex cycles of cementing,
stimulation and production; and maximum and
minimum critical flow velocity limits. Other
issues include corrosion effects such as CO2, H2S,
increasing high chlorides, and water flow that
changes over the course of the wells life. Numerous
papers have been written on the treatment of these
forces and factors in field applications (Pattillo
and Huong, 1982; Li et al., 2003; and Pattillo
and Kristiansen, 2002.)


(5-1)

where kavg is the average permeability through the


reservoir including effect of the damaged layer
(md), ks is the permeability through the damaged
or stimulated layer (md), k is the permeability
in the undamaged formation, re is the reservoir
drainage radius of the well (ft), rs is the radius of
the damaged or stimulated zone (ft) and rw is the
radius of the wellbore (ft).
To match the flow path to the well, the
completion designer must have accurate knowledge
of how fluids can move in the reservoir. Brute force
corrections of perforating or fracturing alone will
not overcome a poor selection of well placement,
trajectory, deviation, sand control or the decision
to case and cement rather than opting for openhole completions. Flow channels through natural
fractures and larger pores exceed the matrix
permeability, usually by two orders of magnitude,
dominating the flow paths that the fluids use
to move through the reservoir. Connecting the
wellbore with these flow paths in a manner that
allows the absolute maximum of flow with
options for zone conformance is the heart of
inflow completion work.
4. Outflow Performance: Flow of liquids from the
wellbore to the surface focuses on managing
pressure drops in the outflow system. The main
points of interest are sand control and perforation
restrictions, management of hydrostatic head of
both liquids and gas, balancing tubular friction and
deliquification needs, backpressures from chokes,
gathering lines, and separators, and pipeline

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

entrance pressures. Specifically for gas wells, the


major impact areas are turbulent or non-Darcy
effects around the perforations and sand control
completions, removing liquid heads (especially in
low-productivity gas wells), and surface pressure
constraints around entering the pipeline. Each effect
must be weighted against cost and recovery losses.
A complete nodal analysis of the entire system,
updated regularly with production information
and improvements in reservoir understanding, is
critical (see Section 5-4.5).
Wellbore construction, evaluation and
optimization continue through the entire
life of a gas well.
5-1.4 Other Well Equipment
In modern gas wells, the mechanical design is frequently
augmented by downhole temperature and pressure
gauges, remotely actuated valves and other sensors and
control points that allow better diagnostics and constant
flow (Holstein and Berger, 1997; Oberwinkler and
Standner, 2005; Sinha and Al-Qattan, 2004; Baksh,
2005; and Dolle et al., 2005).
Some equipment, like the downhole gauges, are
particularly suited to monitoring and even improving
fracturing treatments. By removing friction and storage
effects from the measurements during a fracturing
job, more accurate analysis of pressure build-ups,
fall-offs and fracture closures is possible. The right
selection of sensors can also contribute information
on clean-up and production flow. Completion
design, at minimum should allow for incorporation
of pressure and temperature sensors. Multiple zones,
depending on thickness and fracture design intent,
may use multiple sets of sensors. In wells with zones
that are commingled, downhole gauges help predict
individual layer flow contribution.

The ability to maintain the integrity of the pressure


vessel status of the well is a requirement for the
ability and even the legal right to continue operating
the well. Well integrity is one of the most difficult
objectives to achieve because the operating conditions
change and mechanical properties of equipment can
degrade with time and production.
Basic well integrity starts with a proper mechanical
design and a high-quality cement job. Those two elements
are the primary basis for success or failure in wellcontainment longevity. The best practices in well design
for integrity include: bringing the cement top to the
surface on the most outer casing; completely cementing
off both fresh water and corrosive water zones; managing
thermal pressure rise in trapped annuli; using special
designs around salt, faults or other high-stress areas; and
selecting well construction materials that will meet the
challenges over the life of the well.
As wells age, the challenges of maintaining well
integrity often sharply increase. In gas wells, entry of
water, corrosion by acid gases, erosion, subsidence,
and potential for leaks increase with age. Each
of these problems can cause loss of isolation in a
well. Progressive erosion, corrosion and subsidence
are serious problems, but their consequences are
measurable with established methods and regular
monitoring. Leaks, however, have broad consequences
for the operator, ranging from pollution to trapped
annular pressure increases that can lead to severe leaks,
explosions and loss of the well. In trapped annular
spaces, low-pressure leaks combined with large
changes in flowing temperature can create pockets of
high pressure that can rupture or collapse even heavywall, new pipe (Fig. 5-1).
Gas liquid closed
system (cold)
Gas@45F

Gas liquid closed


system (hot)
Gas@115F
Increase in
Liquid Volume

How high is
this pressure ?

5-1.5 Well Integrity


One of the most important considerations for a
producing well is a risk assessment of the well design and
the operations plans regarding well integrity (Pattillo et
al., 1996; Pattillo and Kristiansen, 2002; Vargo et al.,
2002; and Tewari et al., 2006).

Liquid@45F

Liquid@115F

Figure 5-1 Production flow heating of a trapped annular


volume (Courtesy of Dave Andrews, BP)

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Modern Fracturing

A gas cap over an annular space can offset the


effects of expansion caused by fluid heating if the gas
volume is of sufficient quantity (usually 7 to 12%
of total volume) and if the gas is at a low pressure
at the start of the temperature increase (see Fig. 52). This technique is commonly used in subsea wells
where the annulus cannot be easily drawn down
during production startup. Whether pressure will
rise in a trapped annulus with flowing temperature
increase will depend on whether the expansion of
the liquid can be offset by compression of the gas
volume. If the gas volume is too small or is initially
pressurized, the pressure created when liquid
expands can be much greater.

Pressure Rise
When Heated to
Full Temperature, psi

10,000
8000
6000
4000
2000
0
0

50

100

Percent Gas in Annulus

Figure 5-2 Annular pressure in a trapped annulus


generated as flowing temperature increases. Pressure
Rise in a Trapped 2200 ft Annulus when heated from 45
F (7 C) to 135F (57 C). Initial press is atmospheric.

A gas well integrity plan should incorporate both


understanding of operations and standards of operating
that will protect the isolation potential of the flowing
system from the reservoir through the sales point.
Inspection, standards of design and operation, integrity
surveillance programs and accountability are critical
elements to safe, responsible operations.

5-2 Gas Well Cementing


5-2.1 General Objectives for Gas
Well Cementing Operations
The primary cementing of any well is the most
important operation during its life. Achieving a
hydraulic seal between the productive formation
and casing is of fundamental importance for any

hydrocarbon-producing well. This is to ensure the


optimum productivity from producing zones or, in
the case of an injector well, the optimum injectivity
into injection zones. The loss of zonal isolation can
lead to cross-flow of fluids from one formation to
another, or the production of undesirable fluids such
as water that can severely impact the economics
of a well. Furthermore, ineffective zonal isolation
can severely compromise subsequent stimulation
treatments, resulting in insufficient stimulation of
the target producing intervals and ultimately reduced
well productivity. This is especially important for
gas wells because an overwhelming percentage will
require an effective hydraulic fracture stimulation
treatment to maximize the production and reservoir
drainage potential of the well.
Frequently, gas migration through and along
cementing sheaths can lead to sustained annular casing
pressure at the wellhead, a huge problem that continues
to plague the oil and gas industry on a worldwide basis.
Sustained casing pressure due to gas migration is causing
operators increasing concern and significant remedial
workover costs in countries where environmental
regulations are becoming stricter and venting of gas
to the atmosphere has been banned. Furthermore,
contaminating fresh water aquifers with hydrocarbon
fluids resulting from the failure to obtain or loss of
appropriate zonal isolation has created devastating
liabilities for operators around the world.
Therefore, to optimize well productivity and
minimize potential liabilities, there should be no
corners cut when setting out to achieve the ultimate
goal of effective zonal isolation for the life of the well.
In order to achieve this goal, several primary objectives
must be accomplished:
Design a cement slurry that has the
proper characteristics to:
Place the slurry efficiently in the annulus
Prevent gas invasion during and after the
hydration process
Provide the required mechanical parameters
when set, to withstand the induced stresses
that will occur on the cement sheath
throughout the life of the well.
Design a cement pumping program that
will facilitate:

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

Adequate hole and mud conditioning


prior to cementing
Loss control prior to and during
the cement placement
Effective mud displacement using washes,
spacers centralizers and pipe movement (if
possible) during the cementing operation
Hydrostatic control at all times during
the pumping operation
Execute the cementing operation as per the
slurry design and pumping program.
5-2.2 Gas Well Zonal Isolation
Although obtaining effective zonal isolation is
critical for any well, it is especially critical for gas
wells. This is due to the relative ease for gas to
pass through permeable cement or micro-annuli
in comparison to liquids. For example as per
Economides (1990), the ability for gas to flow
through a cement sheath is:

qcem =
1424ZT (L)

Table 5-1 Example Data for Gas Flowing Through or


Along a Cement Sheath

(5-2)

where qcem is the flow rate through or along a


cement sheath (Mscf/D), k* is the equivalent cement
permeability (md), rw is the wellbore radius (ft), rcas is
the casing radius (ft), is the gas viscosity at reservoir
conditions (cp), Z is the gas deviation factor, T is
the reservoir temperature (R) and L is the length
of the cement sheath (ft).
Equation 5-2 is simply Darcys linear flow
equation expressed in oilfield units for gas. The
equivalent cement permeability (k*) accounts for the
cement matrix permeability or permeability due to
slot flow through a micro-annulus or radial stress
fracture. In most cases set cement permeability is
quite low unless it has been invaded by gas during
the hydration process after being placed in the
annulus. It is rare that even gas-cut cement would
exhibit permeability values in the 10 to 100 md
range; however, it is entirely possible that the
equivalent cement permeability could reach values
this high if a micro-annulus or radial stress fractures
were present. Equation 5-3, below, expresses slot flow
permeability in oilfield units:

(5-3)

where the slot width, w in inches and k is in md.


Based on these equations it is interesting
to note that a micro-annulus or stress fracture
with a width as small as 610-5 in. would exhibit
200 md of permeability.
The significance of gas flow through or along a
permeable cement sheath can be shown in Fig. 53 which was generated by using various values of
Equivalent Cement Permeability (k*) and the data
in Table 5-1 to calculate the corresponding values
of qcem expressed in Mscf/D.

rw =

0.354

ft (8--in. OD)

rcas =

0.292

ft (7-in. OD)

pi =

3000

psi

pwf =

1000

psi

m=

0.025

cp

Z=

0.95

T=

640

L =

20

ft

1.E+02
1.E+01
q, Mscf/D

k * (rw 2 rcas 2 )( pi 2 pwf 2 )

k = 5.4 x1010 w2 ,

1.E+00
1.E -01
1.E -02
1.E -03
0.00100

0.10000

10.00000

k*, md

Figure 5-3 Gas flow rate through or along a cement


sheath for a range of equivalent cement permeabilities

To quantify the amount of zonal isolation that


exists in a given circumstance, Economides (1990)
presented the Index of Zonal Isolation (IZI) defined
by Eq. 5-4, which expresses the ratio of flow rate into a
well from the intended formation to the potential flow
through the cement sheath:

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Modern Fracturing

IZI =

q
qcem

khL
,
r

k * (rw 2 rcas 2 ) ln e + s

rw

(5-4)

where q is the flow rate through the formation (stb/D


for water or oil, Mscf/D for gas), qcem is the flow rate
through or along cement sheath (stb/D for water or
oil, Mscf/D for gas), k is the formation permeability
(md), h is the reservoir thickness (ft) and the remaining
variables are as in Eq. 5-2.
Equation 5-4 is suitable for either gas or liquid flow
because it is simply a ratio of Darcys radial flow equation
using the formation permeability, k, in the numerator and
Darcys linear flow equation using the equivalent cement
permeability, k*, in the denominator. The equation can be
used to ascertain the flow rate through the cement sheath
matrix or micro-annulus for a given k*, or whichever k*
value is expected to achieve a desired flow rate ratio.
5-2.3 Review of Fundamental
Cement Placement Practices
To obtain effective zonal isolation for the life of a well,
steps must be taken to insure that the wellbore is suitable
to be cemented prior to and during the cement placement
operation. It is imperative that the drilling mud in the
hole at the time of cementing be conditioned to optimize
the ability of the preflush and/or spacer trains to displace
it from the annulus completely before cement is placed.
Inefficient mud displacement is a major cause of failing
to achieve adequate zonal isolation (Sauer, 1987).
Although the best practices for achieving high
displacement efficiencies have been known for years it is
not always possible to execute all of these practices due to
overriding circumstances. Unfortunately, very frequently
many of the practices are ignored in an effort to speed
the drilling operation with complete disregard for the
critical need of achieving the zonal isolation required for
the productive life of the well. A detailed discussion of
these practices does not fall within the scope of this book.
However the list of fundamental cement placement
practices, as outlined by Carter et al. (1973), includes:
Proper mud conditioning prior to cementing
Casing centralization
Reciprocation and/or rotation of the casing during
mud circulation and possibly cementing

Proper selection of preflushes and spacers that are


compatible with the mud and cement slurries
Proper selection of fluid volumes (contact times)
Use of computer simulation to determine flow
rates for optimum displacement efficiency while
maintaining well control and preventing losses.
5-2.4 Predictive Wellbore Stress Modeling
As discussed in the previous section, effectively placing a
cement slurry across any zone of interest is fundamental to
achieving good zonal isolation. However, even successful
cement placement may not necessarily guarantee that
adequate zonal isolation will be achieved or maintained
throughout the entire life of the well. During the well
construction, completion and production phases
of the life of a well, the cement sheath is subjected to
radial and tangential forces that can be compressive
or tensile in nature. If the subjected forces exceed the
mechanical properties of the cementing material, a loss
of zonal isolation could occur due to debonding of
the cement interfaces or possibly the creation of radial
stress fractures within the cement sheath itself. These
forces are induced by temperature and pressure changes
within the wellbore as a result of drilling, completion,
stimulation and production operations. Forces can
also be induced on the cement sheath by changes in
temperature and pressure in the adjacent formation as a
consequence of pressure depletion, injection operations
and/or far field stress variations.
Recently, a considerable amount of research has
been performed to understand better the forces imposed
on a cement sheath during the life of a well and the
mechanical properties required from the cementing
materials to withstand these forces (Thiercelin et al.,
1998; di Lullo and Rae, 2000; Mueller et al., 2004; and
Gray et al., 2007). As a result of this work, engineering
tools, cementing materials and methodologies have
been developed to allow engineers to design fit-forpurpose cementing that can indeed provide long-term
zonal isolation if executed correctly.
A predictive analysis of the wellbore stresses that
will occur during the life of a well should be considered
an essential part of any engineered cement design. This
is especially true for gas wells that will be hydraulically
fractured during the completion phase of the well.

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Chapter 5 Well Completions


Cement Stress Calculations Input Data

Test 2 Results @ 12015 ft

Shading
Low

Sample Case
Well Geometry
Hole Dia, Csg O D, I D (in)

8.500

5.500

4.778

Additional Parameters

Casing

Cement

Formation

Inner Radius, in
Youngs Modulus, psi
Poissons Ratio:

2.389
2.9e + 007
0.27

2.750
1.8e + 006
0.12

4.250
4.2e + 006
0.27

Comp. Ten Strength, psi:


Overburden Grad, psi/ft:

3400
1.000

495

Overlimit

Time to 50 psi under 12 hrs


use estimated Tensil Youngs & Poissons in the Calcs

Radial Stress

-1800

WBP Chg
psi
6500

WBP Chg
F
6500

Res P Chg
psi
0

Radial
Distance
in

Radial
Stress
psi

Tangential
Stress
psi

2.750
2.910
3.070
3.230
3.390
3.550
3.710
3.870
4.030
4.190
4.250

-1771
-1639
-1527
-1431
-1348
-1276
-1214
-1158
-1110
-1067
-1052

704
571
459
363
281
209
146
91
43
-1
-16

Radial/Tangential Stress Field

Negative
is
compression

Tangential Stress

750

Radial Stress, psi

600
-1600

400
-1400

200
-1200

0
4

3.5

Dist from Borehole Axis, in

2.7

Dist from Borehole Axis, in

Figure 5-4 Output screen from analytical predictive stress calculator (Courtesy of BJ Services)

An understanding of the forces that will be induced


on a cement sheath as a result of any anticipated well
operation (e.g., hydraulic fracturing) will allow a cement
design engineer to do one of two things: 1) optimize
the mechanical properties of the cementing material
to withstand the forces or 2) if the first option is not
possible, place restraints on the planned well operations
in order to stay below the maximum forces the cement
material can withstand.
There are two modeling methods currently
available for performing predictive wellbore stress
analysis. The first involves the use of fairly simplistic
analytical calculators that are based on the solution
by Lam for cylinders under pressure. Thiercelin et
al., 1998; di Lullo and Rae, 2000; and Mueller et
al., 2004, have proposed the use of calculations to
approximate the radial and tangential stresses that
will be imposed on a cement sheath subjected to
temperature and/or pressure change within a wellbore
or adjacent formation. These calculations are based
on certain simplifying assumptions such as linear
elasticity, axisymmetric geometries and the initial state

of stress. These can lead to erroneous results if used


outside the scope of their limitations. These analytical
calculations also require accurate values for the
formation, cement and casing mechanical properties
to generate accurate results.
Figure 5-4 shows an example output for one of
these calculations, indicating the radial and tangential
stress profiles for a given wellbore situation. In this
example, the stresses associated with increasing the
internal wellbore pressure by 6,500 psi were calculated.
The radial dimensions of the casing, cement sheath
and formation interface were input in addition to
the mechanical properties for each. In this particular
case the cement analyzed exhibited an unconfined
compressive strength (UCS) of 3,400 psi and a tensile
strength of 495 psi. The tangential and radial stresses
were calculated at various radial distances starting
with the casing/cement interface. Based on the
output, the maximum radial load from this scenario
was compressive and equal to 1,074 psi, considerably
below the UCS of the cement. Unfortunately, the
maximum tangential load was calculated to be 704

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Modern Fracturing

psi and tensile in nature, which is 204 psi greater


than the tensile strength of the cement. As a result the
calculations predicted a failure at the cement/casing
interface, which can be seen graphically on the polar
and Cartesian tangential stress plots.
More often the modeling approach to stress analysis
incorporates numerical 3-D finite element analysis
models. This type of model permits the use of solids
mechanics theories including elasticity and plasticity.
Although these models can provide more comprehensive
results, they require time, specialized expertise,
experimental data and sizeable amounts of processing
power to run. On the cutting edge of stress analysis,
Gray et al. (2007) have presented a staged finite element
approach, which allows the tracking of stress and strain
development throughout the life of a well.
5-2.5 Cement Slurry Criteria
for Hydraulically Fractured Gas Wells
Cement slurry design is a critical component of any
well cementing operation. The type of operation
to be performed (whether primary or remedial)
and the type of casing string to be cemented (in
primary cementing) will dictate the requirements
of the slurry. This section will deal specifically
with the slurry requirements for production
casing strings in gas wells that will subsequently
be hydraulically fractured, which is the majority of
new wells drilled around the world. As mentioned
in Section 5-2.1, a successful slurry design for any
primary cementing operation will:
Place the slurry efficiently in the annulus
Prevent gas invasion during and after hydration
Provide the required mechanical parameters
when set, to withstand the induced stresses that
will occur on the cement sheath throughout the
life of the well.
5-2.5.1 Slurry Criteria for Optimized Placement

The ability to effectively place uncontaminated


cement slurry in the casing/open-hole annulus is the
first requirement for obtaining zonal isolation. This
requirement is fundamental to all primary cementing
operations but especially true for those designed for

production strings. A detailed description of slurry


characteristics that aid in efficient placement is outside
the scope of this book. Nonetheless, a quick review of
these parameters is warranted:
Rheology. Slurry rheological properties are an important
design criterion for any primary cementing operation.
These properties define the slurrys mixability and
pumpability in addition to the frictional forces that will
be incurred during pumping. In fact it is essential to
characterize the rheological properties and densities of all
fluids that will be in the wellbore during the placement
operation. This allows calculation of an equivalent
circulating density (ECD), which must be maintained
between the formation pore pressure and fracture
gradient at all times during the placement operation.
The rheological properties of the wellbore fluids will
also dictate the flow regime the fluids will experience
as a function of displacement rate. Understanding flow
regimes and rheological properties provides the basis
for calculating mud displacement efficiency, which
needs to approach 100% in order to achieve adequate
cement placement. Although a design engineer will
have some liberty to tailor the rheological properties of
a slurry, many times the ultimate goals can end up being
compromised due to the need to meet other slurry
criteria such as free water, fluid loss control etc.
Thickening Time. Thickening time is the length of
time a cement slurry remains in a pumpable state under
wellbore temperature and pressure conditions. This time is
affected by many factors including temperature, pressure
and the obvious chemical retardation induced by the use
of cement retarders and other additives. Thickening time
also depends on several mechanical factors, including the
mixing energy the slurry is exposed to during the mixing
and pumping operation, and the dynamic and static fluid
loss the slurry experiences during placement. Simply put,
the thickening time of a slurry should be designed to equal
the time required to mix and displace the slurry based on
the desired pump schedule, plus a safety factor. A safety
factor is needed because the standard API test does not
take into account the dynamic or static fluid loss that
can greatly affect thickening time. The interdependence
between slurry thickening time and anti-gas migration
properties will be discussed later in this section.

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

Fluid Loss Control. The inability to control slurry


dehydration during and after a pumping operation
can greatly compromise effective zonal isolation. The
dynamic fluid loss of cement slurry is affected by various
parameters such as formation permeability, mud filter
cake thickness and permeability, the amount and type of
cement fluid loss additive, and the differential pressure
the slurry is exposed to. In severe cases, slurry dehydration
can form bridges in the annulus that can lead to the
premature termination of a cementing operation.

Rapid Set Prevents Gas Migration


During Transition from Liquid to Solid

5-2.5.2 Slurry Criteria for Anti-Gas Migration

Annular gas migration is a potential problem for any well


that requires cementation across a gas-bearing zone. The
causes of gas migration and methods proposed to prevent
it have been well documented over the years. The range
of methods for preventing gas migration covers a wide
spectrum, and although many have shown promising
results, the reality is that none have been totally successful
on their own. A review of the literature indicates that
most authors concur on the following fundamental
requirements for preventing gas migration:
Compliance with the fundamental cement
placement practices
Slurries must exhibit zero free water breakout and
minimal particle settling tendencies
Slurries must exhibit API fluid loss control values of
50 cc/30 min or less
Slurries must be designed to minimize cement matrix
volume reduction
Slurries must exhibit low permeability throughout
the liquid, transition and set states.
Although somewhat more controversial, another
methodology for preventing gas migration incorporates
the use of "right-angle set" (RAS) slurries. RAS slurries
as presented by Parcevaux et al. (1990) are slurries that
exhibit no progressive gelation tendencies but set very
rapidly due to hydration kinetics. The RAS phenomenon
can be seen on the standard API thickening time chart
(Fig. 5-5), which demonstrates the ability of a slurry to
go from a relatively low consistency value to over 100
Bc (Bearden units of consistency) in just a few minutes.
Due to the short transition phase from liquid to semisolid, RAS slurries maintain the ability to transmit full

Folded Chart- Approximately


37 hours not shown

Relatively Thin Slurry Allows


Easy Placement of Slurry

Figure 5-5 Consistometer chart demonstrating RAS


phenomenon

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Modern Fracturing

hydrostatic pressure up to the start of set. Furthermore,


it is believed that the RAS phenomenon differs from the
rapid gel strength development presented by Sabins et al.
(1982) in that a true set occurs involving the deposition
of mineral hydrates which aid in reducing permeability
and the prevention of gas migration.
Purvis et al. (1993) observed that the gelation
development profile of a slurry under dynamic conditions
and static conditions can vary greatly. In other words
although the RAS methodology has merits for preventing
gas migration, the gelation profile occurs during a
dynamic state and may not occur in the same manner
while in a static state. The significance of this is that most
slurries are designed with thickening times greater than
the time required to actually place them. In this situation
if the gelation profile of an RAS slurry differed greatly in
the static state, the benefit of the RAS design would be
negated. Therefore, the speed at which a slurry develops
static gel strength (SGS) is also a very important property
for preventing gas and fluid invasion.
The transition time as defined by Sabins et al. (1982)
is the time in which a slurry goes from being a fully
hydraulic fluid to a highly viscous mass that demonstrates
solid properties. Transition time is measured from the
time the slurry develops an SGS value equivalent to
100 lbf/100 ft2 and ends when the SGS reaches 500
lbf/100 ft2. It is widely believed that when the slurry
SGS value reaches 100 lbf/ 100 ft2 it is prone to gas
or fluid invasion because this is when the hydrostatic
pressure transmission begins to be restricted (Sabins and
Sutton, 1986). As the SGS value increases to 500 lbf/100
ft2, the slurry has generated sufficient gel strength to
resist the invasion of fluid or gas.
Gas Flow Model

Zone

Transducer

500 psi
Nitrogen
Supply
Cement
Pore
Pressure
Screen
Cement
Slurry
Screen

Low Pressure
Zone

Piston
Gas Flow

Flowmeter
High Pressure

Pore Pressure
Filtrate

Hydrostatic
Pressure

1000 psi
Oil Pressure

Control Panel
Data Storage
Graphical Display
Multi-tasking

Transducer
300 psi
Back
Pressure

300 psi
Nitrogen
Supply

Direct to Excel
Spreadsheet

Flowmeter

Filtrate

Figure 5-6 Gas Flow Simulator (from Rogers et al., 2004)

Rogers et al. (2004) pointed out that the


SGS transition time defined by Sabins et al.
(1982) is frequently confused with the transition
time associated with a standard thickening time test,
which measures the dynamic gelation profile. These
authors also concluded that although beneficial,
neither RAS characteristics nor short SGS transitions
times (< 40 minutes) alone will provide a 100%
guarantee that a slurry will be able to prevent gas
migration. Their findings confirmed that designing
a slurry based on the fundamental requirements
listed above is a good start to providing a fit-forpurpose slurry; however, the only truly valid way to
determine if a slurry will provide gas-tight properties
is to physically test it in a gas flow simulator, such
as the one shown in Figure 5-6
Although the process of designing a fit-forpurpose gas-tight slurry can be somewhat laborious,
the benefits of doing it correctly far outweigh the cost
implications of not doing it correctly.
5-2.5.3 Slurry Criteria for Long-Term Zonal Isolation

The third component of designing a slurry for


long-term zonal isolation in a gas well pertains to
optimizing the mechanical properties of the set
cement. To begin, a predictive stress analysis must be
performed for the numerous scenarios during the life
of the well (such as a hydraulic fracturing treatment)
that will subject loads to the cement sheath (see
Section 5-2.4). It is necessary to understand the
magnitude and direction of these forces in order to
establish the design criteria for the slurry. Although
the principal mechanical design criteria for cement in
the past has been based on unconfined compressive
strength, there are many other mechanical properties
of the cement such as tensile strength, Youngs
modulus and Poissons ratio that could be much more
important than compressive strength. In reality, the
majority of the time the maximum stress loads placed
on a cement sheath are tensile in nature rather than
compressive. Based on this premise it is imperative
that old paradigms such as the harder the cement,
the better be phased out for new paradigms that
focus on a more encompassing understanding of the
resilient properties of cement.

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

During the past decade there has been a substantial


amount of research into cement additives that can enhance
the resiliency of oil and gas well cement to withstand
loads. For example, calcium silicate-based minerals,
polymeric blends and volumetric-equivalent sand
systems have proven to considerably enhance the tensile
and flexural strength and Youngs modulus of slurries
(Heinold et al., 2002; and Mueller, 2003). Furthermore,
unless absolutely required for well control purposes, the
density of a slurry can be reduced from the traditional
densities associated with the API water requirements.
Reduced-density slurries with a proper additive package
can many times satisfy all three of the fundamental slurry
design requirements for placement, anti-gas migration,
and resilient mechanical properties, more easily than
higher-density designs (di Lullo and Rae, 2000).
In conclusion, it is essential to understand the
force loads that a given cement sheath will be exposed
to and to design a slurry accordingly to provide the
mechanical properties under downhole conditions to
withstand the subjected loads.
5-2.6 Fracturing Constraints Required
to Maintain Long-Term Zonal Isolation
Under certain circumstances it may not be possible
to optimize the mechanical properties of the cement
slurry to withstand the forces predicted from a
proposed hydraulic fracturing job. In this scenario a
predictive force analysis should be used to mandate the
maximum pressure and temperature changes allowed
during the treatment to prevent compromising the
cement sheath and zonal isolation.
Typically it will be difficult to reduce the bottomhole
treating pressure associated with a fracturing treatment
by reducing the pump rate because the wellbore pressure
adjacent the perforations will be primarily controlled
by the mechanical rock properties. Nonetheless, the
change in wellbore temperature during the job maybe
the overriding factor associated with the subjected stress
loads. In this scenario it may be required to heat the
fluid at surface prior to the job to minimize the change
in temperature the wellbore will experience. Although
heating the fracturing fluid will add logistical complexities
and operational cost to the treatment, the loss of zonal
isolation would be far more costly.

5-3 Identifying Gas Pays,


Permeability and Channels
5-3.1 Pay and Water Zone Logging Methods
Logging, whether to locate gas pays, to assess
contribution over the zone, to estimate turbulence
problems, or to identify water entry points for repair,
are all part of a larger surveillance effort necessary to
better define the formation and the flow behavior
(Julian et al., 2007; and Fox et al., 1999). The
surveillance package in a gas well, encompassing
open-hole and cased-hole or production logging,
is integral to a functional depletion plan to
maximize reserve recovery.
Logging to identify gas pays most commonly
defines the presence of gas, porosity, water saturation,
mineralogy and clay identity and presence. Openhole logging includes the initial pay identification
and characterization; cased-hole logging usually
focuses on production logging, conformance issues,
missed pay identification or other reserve addition
opportunities. In general, logging determines if
there are commercial quantities of gas, if the zone
is sufficiently permeable to produce the reserves and
if the water saturation is mobile and manageable
during production. The minimum log suite
necessary to answer these questions includes gamma
ray, resistivity/conductivity and multiple porosity
readings. Other logs are frequently used for special
applications and confirmation of findings. Special
plotting and cross-plotting of the log data, when
combined with experience in an area, are powerful
tools in locating and assessing a pay zone.
Gamma ray logs, which measure the natural
resistivity of the zone, help estimate lithology,
correlate depths across a field and specifically identify
clean sands that often have higher permeability than
the rest of the zone. Several different porosity logs
(density, neutron, sonic and magnetic resonance)
are used to generate an estimate of permeability. The
differences in measurements, when cross-plotted
against other data, can frequently be used to identify
a gas-bearing zone. Alone, each has limits, but when
multiple porosity log types are processed, the porosity
estimate is very good. The neutron-density combo

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Modern Fracturing

log is a standard tool for gas identification. Gas in


the pores causes the density log to read high and the
neutron log to read low. Normally, the density log
tracks just lower than the neutron log; however, when
gas is encountered, the neutron log crosses over. A low
gamma ray signal indicating a clean (low shale content)
formation and resistivity-calculated water saturation
of less than 30 to 50%, depending on formation clay
content, are secondary indicators.
A few of the logs and surveillance control methods
for gas wells and a very basic assessment of the
information they offer are given in Table 5-2.
Table 5-2 Logging Tools for Open-Hole Sections
Logs or Surveillance
Method

Potential Information Available

Gamma-ray

Lithology and correlation

Resistivity

Water saturation,
potential hydrocarbon

Capacitance

Fluid type

Neutron, Density

Porosity estimation, gas presence

Dipole Shear Sonic

Formation strength

Pulsed Neutron

Water saturation

Temperature

Cement top, inflow, channels

Noise Log

Leaks and fluid entry

Cement Bond Log

Cement bonding quality

Calipers

Hole size and shape

Sweeps w/markers

Swept hole volume


prior to cementing

Oxygen Activation

Channel flow, water


differentiation from hydrocarbons

After the pay is identified, an assessment of


water contact is made using the resistivity log.
Knowledge of how active the water movement may
be and an estimate of the vertical permeability of the
reservoir are valuable in estimating effects of water
drive over time for both gas recovery and water
encroachment into the wellbore. This information
is also required to optimize any fracture stimulation.
Estimates of formation vertical permeability which can range from < 1/100 of the horizontal
permeability to equal values - is usually generated
from core studies, micro-logs, depositional
environment and offset fluid movements. The
formation vertical permeability is a dominant control
in horizontal well production but is often inadequately
known over the reservoir.

During the well construction phase, logs are also used


to monitor the quality and the top of cement (temperature
and cement bond logs) and to estimate deformation
or other damage in the casing (caliper and ultrasonic
inspection tools). After the pay is producing, logging is
useful to assess how much of the zone is contributing to
flow. Formation permeability often varies widely, even in
a single pay, due to depositional environment variances,
sediment reworking, natural chemical modification
and tectonic effects. The permeability variation, often
two or more orders of magnitude, is a strong influence
on location of flow channels in the rock. Production
logging identifies points of fluid entry (and exit) in the
wellbore. Special constraints of wellbore fluid type, well
deviation, tool conveyance, temperature effects, flow
behavior and flow rate are important considerations
in the application of logging tools. Knowledge about
reservoir pressures and permeabilities can assist in
creating a design that can control cross flows.
Optimizing flow and reserve recovery may require
balancing the gas production rate against water coning
potential or timing of gas recovery against recovery of oil
reserves from a thin oil zone overlain by a large gas cap.
These types of decisions require a surveillance plan, with
regular review, to achieve the reserve recovery goal.
Reservoir boundaries and barriers are rarely
adequately described through seismic or logging
methods. Continuing production surveillance
offers the possibility of more accurately defining
the reservoir and often identifying missed pay and
re-completion opportunities.
5-3.2 Effect of Formation Clays and Micro-porosity
Attention to the mineralogy and the overall formation
clay content and location is needed, particularly
when gas is indicated and high water saturation
makes the pay unattractive.
In a few cases, some clays such as smectite, kaolinite
and illite can create high micro-porosity in the pores,
trapping water that increases the water saturation
reading but does not move. A gas well in the Nile delta,
for instance, indicated pay zone water saturation over
50% but produced near water-free gas. The reason was
extensive clay in a form with space between the clay
platelets that trapped a significant amount of water.

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

Conversely, an indication of very low water


saturation (< 10%) may be a dry or under-saturated
zone that will adsorb water from any injected fluid,
resulting in a lower relative permeability to gas after
the water contact (Bennion et al., 2000a, 2000b). This
effect is rarely seen and may be the result of either too
little connate water during cementing, or more likely,
the water was flushed out by excessive dry gas flow over
geologic time. Whatever the cause, the effect will be
sharply lower permeability to gas after any operation
that floods the matrix with a liquid. Recovery to
initial state will be extremely slow.
5-3.3 Wellbore Deviation and
Resultant Logging and Flow Problems
With more wells being drilled from pads and platforms,
the effects of fluid movements along deviated wellbores
must be considered. Production of a single-phase
fluid in a horizontal well is rarely an issue, but as
other phases are added, the flow behavior becomes
increasingly complex. In production logging, fluid
density segregation in the wellbore creates zones of
stratified flow and even areas of refluxing liquid that can
make log readings questionable at best and may create
significant flowing backpressures that can sharply affect
production in lower pressure gas wells (Scrimgeor et al.,
1983; and Bamforth et al., 1996).
The multi-phase flow effect was noted first in the field
as engineers recognized that log interpretations in deviated
wells were yielding inconsistent and confusing results. A
series of flow loop tests in inclined test fixtures helped
identify the problem as phase hold-up, where the lighter
fluid segregates to the upper part of the flowing pipe crosssection, occupying a correspondingly smaller volume of
the flowing cross-section and leaving the higher-density
fluids moving much more slowly along the bottom side.
Several distinct flowing regions were recognized as the
deviation changed from full vertical through the Boycott
settling range of 30o to 60o, to near horizontal flow. Even
changes of as little as 2o from horizontal affected the type
and location of the rapidly moving layer. Beyond 90o, in
the over-horizontal deviations, there is a reversal of the
location of the fast moving layer, with the higher-density
fluids creating a faster flow along the bottom of the pipe
and occupying a smaller portion of the pipe.

Centralizing the logging tool, restricting flow around


the tool, tool movement while logging and routing all
flow past the measuring surfaces were at least partly
successful in assisting the logging reading. However, in
deviated wells with an un-isolated slotted or perforated
liner, the logging tool will very likely show all fluid entry
at the heel or the last point where the fluid flowing on
the outside of the liner can enter the wellbore. Although
the work was initially done to assist the interpretation of
production logs, the implication for flow, especially in gas
wells, cannot be ignored. Deviated wells have excellent
application benefits in many producing environments,
but the wellbore construction must take into account the
manner in which fluids flow.
5-3.4 Completion Considerations
for Naturally Fractured Reservoirs
Naturally fractured reservoirs (NFRs) are widespread
and are encountered much more frequently than
one would expect. The percentage of global reserves
contained in NFRs is currently unknown. Nonetheless
the contribution from NFRs is significant and will
probably increase as conventional reservoirs without
natural fracture networks are depleted. Although
typically associated with carbonate formations, natural
fractures are commonly encountered in sandstone and
shale formations as well. Naturally fractured reservoirs
are of increasing importance in North America, where
the exploitation of tight gas sands and more recently gas
shales (see Sections 11-3.2 and 11-5) is on the rise. In
these reservoirs it is not uncommon for the rock matrix
permeability to be in the very low microdarcy or even
nanodarcy range. It is generally accepted that these
tight gas plays would not be commercially viable in the
absence of natural fracture systems.
As pointed out in Section 5-3.1, a variety of electric
logging techniques and cut-off criteria are available for
determining productive pay in conventional reservoirs
that produce via matrix permeability. However, accurately
identifying pay and characterizing reservoirs that contain
naturally occurring fractures caused by external or internal
stresses within the formation is much more complex.
Characterizing a natural fracture system plays
a fundamental role in field development decisions
pertaining to well placement, wellbore azimuth,

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Modern Fracturing

wellbore construction, completion sizing and


stimulation design. Natural fractures can help or
hinder production. Depending on the degree of
the natural fracturing present, a reservoir could
become very compartmentalized and drain less
acreage than expected. Therefore, it is vital to
identify the presence, type and density of natural
fractures within the reservoir.
Understanding the orientation and magnitude of
present day horizontal stresses and the orientation of the
natural fracture system will facilitate proper planning of
a well designed to optimize the drainage of the reservoir.
Avoiding geohazards is also critical. In the case of
deviated or horizontal well designs, the wellbore azimuth
may be planned so that the wellbore, or subsequently
induced hydraulic fractures, intersect the natural fracture
network for optimum inflow area or, conversely, may
be planned to avoid intersection of natural fractures
that connect undesirably to an aquifer.
There are two categories of methods available
for determining the presence and degree of natural
fractures in a given reservoir: direct observations
and indirect indicators.
Direct observations are typically the least
expensive method and can include close examination
of drill cuttings, analysis of conventional or rotary
sidewall cores and the interpretation of borehole
image logs. Under low magnification, the presence
of mineralization on fracture surfaces observed in
either drill cuttings or cores demonstrates that the
fractures were naturally created and not induced
during the drilling process. Additionally, borehole
image logs provide a full 360o view of the wellbore
and can provide useful qualitative information about
the, position, density, orientation and extent of
natural fractures in the reservoir.
Indirect indicators while drilling include an
increased rate of penetration in conjunction with
mud losses, bit chatter and multi-arm caliper
logs indicating eccentric or out-of-gauge holes.
Substantial mud losses can indicate the presence
of a significant natural fracture network. Indirect
production indicators can also provide insight
into the presence and extent of naturally occurring
fractures. For example, if the actual production
from a zone greatly exceeds the expected production

associated with the measured matrix permeability,


the variation is a strong indication that the borehole
is in communication with a natural fracture system
extending deep into the reservoir.
In reality, it may require a combination of
observations and indicators to provide sufficient
evidence to classify a reservoir as naturally fractured.
In general, naturally fractured reservoirs require more
up front study and thought than simpler and more
straightforward conventional reservoirs.
5-3.5 Formation Characterization
for Well Completions
Formation characterization provides rock and fluid
property information for use in predicting reservoir
hydrocarbon volumes and well production rates and,
consequently, the appropriate well construction to
accomplish the task. The identification of problems
that involve damage or the propensity to damage,
such as sand production, scales, paraffin or asphaltene
deposition, etc., is very important.
Measurements come from a variety of tools:
Well logs, which measure resistivity, nuclear,
acoustic, and magnetic formation properties
along the well length
Well tests, which measure formation pressures, obtain
reservoir fluid samples and sometimes measure
fluid flow rates from selected formations.
Mud logs, which provide analyses of rock
and hydrocarbons circulated to the surface
within the drilling mud from the formation
that was drilled
Cores, which provide samples of formation rock
for direct physical measurements.
Well logs are the predominant formation
characterization source, because they provide the
most complete set of information for the lowest cost.
Of particular importance to well completions are
thickness, porosity, lithology and heterogeneity. Well
testing, described in Chapter 3, provides the zone
permeability, average reservoir pressure and skin. It is
the only method described in this section that can look
deep into the formation. For more detailed description
within a presumed zone, production logging delineates

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

2000). Open-hole completions represent the simplest


type of completions and may have significant benefits
in high-permeability oil reservoirs. Gas reservoirs,
however, significantly benefit from hydraulic
fracturing to reduce the effects of near-wellbore
drilling and completion damage, and from the
reduction of non-Darcy flow effects (see Section 2-4).
Therefore, in most gas reservoirs cased and perforated
completions are still preferred, although the casing
area opened by perforating must be maximized.
Open-hole completions may also present challenges
in formation and water influx control, as well as
being significantly more restricted by near-wellbore
damage from completion fluids.
Open-hole completions have a large area of contact
between the wellbore and the formation. Although
the hydraulic fractures preferred on nearly all gas
will provide orders of magnitude greater contact area
compared with an open hole, some restriction of flow
may be seen due to the small area of the perforations
at the wellbore entry points. Additionally, openhole completions avoid formation damage caused
by cementing and damaging convergent flow effects
caused by perforation restrictions. However, casedhole wells can achieve open-hole productivity if
sufficient number of perforations of sufficient size
and penetration are used. Although it is difficult
to perforate through formation damage due to the
crushed zone that exists around each perforation
tunnel (Fig. 5-7), it is possible to significantly reduce
the effects of this zone by use of the appropriate
perforating technique (see Section 6-4.3).
Damaged
Formation

Casing

Undamaged
Formation

Cement

vertical heterogeneity. This is particularly important


for stimulation because it provides answers for the
appropriateness of diversion and staging.
Interpretation of all available well data is essential
for an accurate formation characterization. Well data are
applied using a petrophysical model that describes the
formation rocks and fluids.
Formation rock and fluid properties that are usually
of most interest are:
Zone depth and thickness
Lithology (e.g., sandstone, limestone)
Pore types (e.g., between grains, fractures)
Porosity (percentage of reservoir volume that contains
liquids and gas)
Permeability (how well fluids flow through
rock pores)
Damage, type of damage and potential for it
Pore fluid saturations (percentage of pore volume
occupied by each fluid)
Pore fluid properties (e.g., density, water salinity)
Formation pressure

Formation
characterization
is
often
expanded across an entire field or geologic basin.
This effort requires corelating the formation
and its properties among multiple wells and
interpolating formation properties between
wells, using well data already mentioned and the
following data acquired over time:
Seismic data resulting from the measurement of the
path/time of surface-originating sound waves and
their reflections from formation boundaries
Well performance data including flow rates, formation
pressures and produced fluid properties.

Computers are used at every step of formation
characterization from data acquisition to well
performance history matching, well performance
prediction, hydrocarbon volume determination and
the display of formation characterization results.

Perforation Tunnel

5-4 Sizing the Completion

Crushed Zone Around


Perforation

5-4.1 Initial Design Considerations


The first completion design decision on casing the
pay zone is not its size or weight but whether to run
casing at all (Bennett et al., 2000; and Parlar et al.,

Figure 5-7 The crushed zone surrounding the perforation


tunnel

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Modern Fracturing

Nonetheless, as discussed in Section 2-5.2 in the


case of high-permeability, high-rate gas wells nothing
can compete with hydraulically fractured completions
for gas wells. This is due to the significant reduction
in the non-Darcy flow effects, which greatly enhances
the production response beyond the benefits of a
negative skin. Fracturing should be considered for all
gas wells. In low-permeability formations, fracturing
improves the flow towards the wellbore, and in higherpermeability formations, very high-conductivity
fractures can reduce non-Darcy flow effects.
Selecting the actual size of the flowing pathways in
the well is usually done with a nodal analysis package
with the intent of optimizing flow, not only at the start
of production, but also repeated frequently during
wells life if possible. The selection of casing is dictated
by the largest downhole production equipment needed
for an application and the number of casing strings and
liners necessary for pressure and fluid containment to
deliver the casing size to that depth. These strings are
set at the initial completion and generally cannot be
changed, once set, without the expense of drilling and
re-completing the well.
Swab Valve
Flow Cross

Choke
Wing Valves

Casing strings are run to make continued


drilling possible. The drilling fluid density operating
window formed between fracture breakdown
pressure as the upper limit and pore pressure and/or
hole stability (sloughing) control as the lower limit,
will narrow with tectonic, deposition, age, charging,
basin variance and other factors. Basic well design
uses a conductor pipe to keep out loose soil; surface
or protection strings to isolate water or flowing
sediments; and production casing and liners to isolate
zones of productive interest from fluids, pressures or
formations (see Fig. 5-8). In completions that require
hydraulic fracturing, it should be noted that cased,
cemented and perforated production strings provide
the best chance of maintaining zonal isolation and
optimized fracture placement.
Whereas the wells casing design is almost
completely concerned with the loads and forces
of completion and operation, tubing selection
must also optimize the ability to flow fluids to
surface. In order to optimize flow over the life of
the well, the tubing may have to be changed. The
size of the tubing is driven by the expected gas
production rate in conjunction with the ability
to optimize natural lift of any liquids by the
velocity of the expanding gas.
5-4.2 Flow Factors for Tubing Design

Wing Valves
Upper and Lower
Master Valves

Inner Annulus Access


Outer Annulus Access
Conductor Pipe
Surface or Production
Casing String
Cement
Production Casing
Tubing String
Packer
PAY
ZONE
Perforations

Figure 5-8 Typical wellbore design

The ability of a well to flow is addressed by the inflow


performance relationship, IPR. In an example gas well
IPR (Fig. 5-9), the curve illustrates the relationship
of productivity of the formation at drawdown to
production rate of the well (Brown, 1982) The
IPR curve is essentially a snapshot in time of well
performance potential. As the well depletes in pressure,
the IPR curve shifts to the left, indicating the effect
of pressure removal on the production rate. There is a
wellbore influence impressed on the IPR curve by any
flowing restriction in the near-wellbore area.

Figure 5-10 is an interesting comparison between
cased-hole and open-hole gas production in a highpermeability gas reservoir. In this data, a new well with
an open-hole completion replaced a cased and perforated
gas well. Although separated by only 20 meters, the
difference in production from the two wells was striking

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Chapter 5 Well Completions

- with an IPR indicated gain of over 30% (although


there could be reasons for this besides the change from
cased to open hole). In gas wells, both fluid viscosity
and compressibility are pressure dependent. The IPR
modeling is also complicated by high velocities around
the wellbore that produce turbulent flow. Most models
assume Darcy flow (laminar) and may not be accurate
for the pressure drops produced by turbulence.
IPR - Natural Lift, Tubing Performance
Small Tubing

Bottom Hole Flowing Pressure

Large Tubing
IPR Curve

5-4.3 Tubing Selection

Drawdown

Flow Rate

Figure 5-9 Inflow performance relationship (IPR) curve


with overlaid tubing performance curves (TPC) for
tubing selection
Bottom Hole Flowing Pressure, psi

counting the flow area of the perforation tunnel itself.


The restriction caused by small or insufficient numbers of
perforations presents a challenge. Fracturing is beneficial
on almost any gas wells (problems with adjacent
water or adjacent depleted formations excepted), but any
limited entry into the casing poses a restriction. Large,
open perforations are a necessity in high-rate wells.
The production effects of these limits of perforating
are rarely significant in low-permeability formations
(less than about 100 md) that are hydraulically
fractured, but the effect of the inflow constraints are
increasingly felt as permeability rises.

4000
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500

Open Hole

1000

Cased & Perf

500

7" TPC

0
0

100

200

300

Production, MMscf/d

Figure 5-10 Comparison of open-hole and cased/


perforated high-permeability gas wells separated by
less than 20 meters

The major difference in open hole vs. non-fractured


cased-hole completions is in the wellbore-entry
restrictions created by casing the well. For example,
a well with 7 in. casing, perforated with 0.75 in. (1.9
cm) entrance hole perforations at 12 shots per foot (39
spm) has only 2% of the pipe wall area open to flow, not

Tubing selection is based on both physical forces and


several minimum and maximum sizes that determine
production efficiency:
1. Tension, collapse and burst forces over the
entire cycle of completion, workover and
production operations. This is best done with
a stress analysis program. The design accuracy
is totally dependent on understanding the
loads and forces and the accuracy of the data
used in the calculations.
2.