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Closing the Gap: Fracture Half Length from Design, Buildup, and Production Analysis (SPE 84491)


In the Wamsutter Field, low fracture conductivity was shown to dramatically limit effective fracture length and well productivity.  Treatments were re-designed to increase fracture conductivity, resulting in 40-50% sustained increases in gas production.


It is commonly observed that hydraulically fractured wells perform as though the “effective” fracture half-length is much lower than the designed half-length. This observation has been explained by various models, including poor fracture-height containment, poor proppant transport, proppant falling out of zone (convection), ineffective proppant-pack cleanup, capillary-phase trapping, multiphase flow, gravitational-phase segregation, and non-Darcy  flow, with combinations of any of these mechanisms. With recent improvements in diagnostic measurements of fracture geometry, some of these explanations have lost credibility, but the problem of low effective fracture length persists.

This paper presents detailed evaluations of hydraulically fractured well behavior with continuous production analysis, pressure-transient (buildup) analysis, and fracture-treatment evaluation by use of actual field data from a tight-gas reservoir in the Rocky Mountain Region. The various analyses explain the observed producing behavior of the well and lead to a consistent determination of the actual effective fracture half-length compared with the physically created or propped length. Problems relating to semantics and inconsistent fracture and reservoir description, especially the physical processes encompassed by various analytical techniques, will be addressed.

Methods will be outlined for predicting the useful effective length from available proppant-conductivity data. The process outlined helps to close the gap between designed-fracture and producing lengths and points out the causes for the remaining system bottlenecks that limit post-fracture well productivity. Finally, the understanding of these mechanisms provides a means to arrive at an economical optimum fracture-treatment design for a reservoir once key parameters are known.

Author(s): R.D. Barree, Barree & Associates; S.A. Cox, J.V. Gilbert, M. Dobson, Marathon Oil Company

Paper Number: SPE 84491

URL: https://www.onepetro.org/conference-paper/SPE-84491-MS


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