The Quest for Permeability
Baker Hughes, a GE company
The only economical way to extract hydrocarbons from low-permeability shale reservoirs is to increase reservoir contact. Horizontal drilling, multi-stage completion, and hydraulic fracturing have proven key technologies in this respect. Yet, there is more to consider when engineering for optimal recovery on the quest for permeability. Many reservoirs are blessed with networks of natural fractures that are thought to act as hydrocarbon highways and contribute significantly to production. Focusing on fractured reservoirs, we will review how fractures across many length-scales contribute to permeability improvements that make unconventional reservoirs economically viable. We will discuss recent technology advances in fracture modeling, fracture network analysis techniques, and case studies that highlight the influence of fractures on stimulation and on the importance of integrated technology application for successful production.