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SPE-169537-MS

New Production-Decline Models for Fractured Tight and Shale Reservoirs


Tariq Ali, James Sheng and Mohamed Soliman, Texas Tech University
Copyright 2014, Society of Petroleum Engineers
This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Western North American and Rocky Mountain Joint Regional Meeting held in Denver, Colorado, USA, 1618 April 2014.
This paper was selected for presentation by an SPE program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Society of Petroleum Engineers and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Society of Petroleum Engineers is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of SPE copyright.

Abstract
Production decline curve analysis is one of our common methods to estimate production rate profile and ultimate recovery of
a tight or shale gas reservoir. Because of the long transient behavior of low-permeability gas reservoirs, early production data
generally exhibits fracture-dominated flow regimes and late-time flow regimes have not reached yet. These challenges the
robustness of production decline curve analysis in such reservoirs, and this also question the validity of several models
presented in the literature.
If a well produces at a constant flowing pressure, a log-log plot of rate divided byover cumulative gas production vs.
cumulative gas production yields a straight line, and cumulative gas production vs. time yields another straight line as well.
Based on these two relationships and real data observations, new production-decline models are proposed in this paper.
The proposed models are verified by a large number of well production data in tight and shale reservoirs. These models are
also validated by numerically simulated cases. Under some special conditions, the proposed models can be used to validate
some published models. Many real data and simulate data show that the proposed models can be reliably used to estimate
production rates and the ultimate recovery in tight and shale reservoirs.
Introduction
Arps (1945) derived the rate decline empirical relations (exponential and hyperbolic). The exponential time-rate relation can
be derived from the loss-ratio relation while the hyperbolic timerate relation is derived from the loss-ratio derivative
term. The hyperbolic rate decline is a generalization of the exponential decline behavior observed from wells exhibiting
boundary conditions.
The common used method for decline curve analysis is Arps hyperbolic rate decline (Arps 1945); the hyperbolic decline
equation is extensively used because it can give a best fit for the long transient linear-flow regime observed in low and ultralow permeability gas wells with b values greater than unity. Lee and sidle (2010) showed that values of b greater than unity
can cause the reserves to have unreasonable properties.
Application of Arps hyperbolic model during transient flow regimes results in an overestimation of future production.
Rushing et al (2007) have shown that application of Arps hyperbolic model during transient flow regime causes reserve
errors estimate exceeding 100 percent.
To avoid this drawback, Ilk et al (2008) presented the power-law exponential rate decline relation based on the inverse of the
loss-ratio (D-parameter) behavior of the time-rate data.
Valko (2009) introduced the stretched exponential decline model to describe observed decline behavior of a database of rate
data obtained from unconventional reservoirs. The stretched exponential model is similar to the power-law exponential model
in matching the early time data, but it lacks the boundary conditions necessary to match log-time boundary conditions.
Duong (2010) proposed a time-rate relation based on a long-term linear flow exhibited in hydraulically fractured shale, and
tight wells. He showed that a log-log plot of rate divided by cumulative production versus time yields a straight line trend. He
also indicated that the slope and intercept of the straight line are characteristics of the reservoir.
Clark et al. (2011) introduced a new time-rate model by matching a type of logistic growth model to production data of oil
and gas wells. The logistic growth model is capable of modeling long transient behaviors of unconventional reservoirs, and
boundary conditions.

SPE-169537-MS

Vanorsdale (2013) concluded that Duong and Power-Law models may overestimate recovery as a result of changing the flow
regime during the first ten years of the life of the wells. He also concluded that continuous changing of flow regime may
result in overestimation of recovery.
This paper introduces new empirical decline models that are based on a long term linear flow in a large number of wells in
tight and gas shale reservoirs. The new methodology has been developed for production analysis and forecasting of
unconventional reservoirs.
Methodology Development
Long-term Fracture Flow
Numerous wells in unconventional reservoirs exhibit long-term linear flow, and it might be the only available flow
regime for analysis. Linear flow is characterized by a half slope line on the log-log plot of gas flow rate vs. time.
Wattenbarger (2007) identified different causes for linear transient flow including hydraulic fractures draining a square
geometry, high permeability layers draining adjacent tight layers and early-time constant pressure draining from different
geometries. Bello (2008) stated that a possible cause for the transient linear flow is the draining from the matrix blocks into
the surrounding high permeability fractures.
If a fracture flow regime (either linear or bilinear flow) is prolonged over the life of a well, the flow rate q will be
= ! !! ..... (1)
Where n is one-half for linear flow, or n is one-quarter for bilinear flow and q1 is the flow rate at day 1.
The gas cumulative will be
!
qdt
!

! =

= q!

!!!!
(!!!)

..... (2)

That is
! =

Let

!!
(!!!)

!!
(!!!)

t !!! ..... (3)

= a, and n 1 = m, Eq.3 becomes

! = at ! ...... (4)
Fig. 1 shows log-log plots for ! vs. time for a vertical well in unconventional reservoir. These plots give a straight line
with a positive slope, m, and an intercept of a.
Equation 4 is our first model, model1. Equation for q can be derived as shown in Appendix A:
= . . !!! .. (5)

SPE-169537-MS

Cumulative Production vs Time ( Simulation Case)


1,000

100

Gp, MMSCF

y = 0.2291x0.9477
R = 0.99986
10

Cumulative Production
Power (Cumulative Production)

0
1

10

100

1000

10000

t, Day
Fig.1: Log-log plots for vs. time for a simulated shale gas vertical well. The data forms a straight line with a slope, and an
intercept, a.

Beyond Linear Flow


Thompson et al (2012) note that multi-stage hydraulically fractured horizontal wells undergo several flow regime changes
during their producing lives. The end of linear flow (i.e. time stabilization) can be estimated by the region of investigation
equation developed for linear flow at constant pressure, also can be estimated by the change of slope which a well may
exibits, fig.2 and fig.2a show the change of slope.
If the slope m is changing with time, therefore
! = !(!) ... (6)
The slope is a function of time, therefore
= = !! . (7)
Then Eq.6 becomes
!!

! = !! ..... (8)
Equation q can be derived as shown in Appendix B:
= !"

!! !!!!

(1 p. ln t )........ (9)

SPE-169537-MS

Cumulative Production vs. Time ( VW Field Case)

Gp, MMSCF

100

y = 0.0077x0.7
R = 0.998

10

Cumulative Production
0.1
1

10

100

t , Day

1000

Fig.1.a: log-log plots for vs. time for tight gas vertical well. The data forms a straight line with a slope, and an intercept, a.

Slope, m vs. Time ( HW Simulation Case)

Slope, m

0.784

y = 0.8782x-0.017
R = 0.99952

0.78

0.776

0.772
0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

t, Day
Fig.2: log-log plots for slope, m, vs. time for simulated horizontal well. The plot shows that the slope m is changing with time.

SPE-169537-MS

Slope, m vs. Time ( HW Field Case)

Slope, m

0.21

y = 0.5076x-0.138
R = 0.99904
0.11

0.01
0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

3000

3500

t, Day
Fig.2a: log-log plots for slope, m, vs. time for a simulated horizontal well. The plot shows that the slope m is changing with time.

! vs. ! for both vertical and horizontal wells. All data follows a straight line with
a negative slope, - d, and an intercept of b. That is
Fig.3 shows log-log plots between

!!
! = ! ..... (10)

q/ Gp vs.Gp ( VW Simulation Case)


1

q/ Gp, Day-1

0.1

y = 0.1978x-1.05
R = 0.99996

0.01

0.001

0.0001
0.1

10
Gp, SCF

Fig.3: Log-log plots between

vs. for a vertical well simulation case1.

100

1000

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Validation of the New Models


= !!!! ...... (11)
Where =
!!!
!"

!!!
!"

= !!!! ...... (12)

Re-arrange Eq.12 to be
!!!
!!!!!

= . (13)

Taking integration to both sides,


!! !!!
! !
!

!
......
!

(14)

! = (. . )!/! ..... (15)


!

Let (. )!/! = , = ,
!

! = . ! .. (16)
Eq.16 is exactly Eq.4
Validation of the Duongs Model
We also validate Duong model by substituting Eq.4 into Eq.10
Recall Eq.10

!!
! = !

Recall Eq.4
! = !
Substitute Eq.4 into Eq.10

!!
! = !

! !!
! = ( ) .. ... (17)

SPE-169537-MS

!! !!!
.... (18)
! = . t

Let . !! = r, Eq.16 becomes

!!!
.. (19)
! = r. t

Eq.18 is the same as Duongs model.


Field Examples
In this section, we present the analysis of a field case from different unconventional plays were using our new methodology.
Examples were selected to illustrate the decline behavior in various completion and production scenarios such as newly
developed plays and vertical or horizontal wells. For changes in flow regime, a, and m values will be highlighted for each
example in the following discussion.
Field case: East TX Tight Gas Well
We analyzed the daily production data obtained from a hydraulically fractured Horizontal well completed in a tight gas
reservoir. The early part of data was analyzed and presented before by Praikno, Rushing, and Blasingame (2003). The sixyear flow rate and cumulative production historical data is presented in fig.4. The figure shows the raw data some which has
to be deleted in order to be used for analysis. We identify a smooth decline throughout the life of this well. Visual inspection
of the rate data suggests that full boundary dominated flow regime has not been established yet, but the flow regime is no
long linear flow. We also observe the straight line relationship between Gp vs. t Eq.4. The first step is to fit the observed
cumulative gas production, Gp, to the proposed model (Eq.1) to estimate the intercept constant, a, and the slope parameter, m
by performing a linear regression. The resulting fit, shown in fig. 5, appears not to capture the entire trend in the data
although R2 = 0.996. We used model 2. (Eq.8) to find the slope, fig.6 shows the changing in the slope m over time. We used
the intercept from fig.5 and the slope from fig.6 to match the well production history shown in fig.7, and we compared
between the match from Eq.1, Eq.5 and Duong model. It is clear that Eq.8 provided a better match to the production history
of the well than Eq.4, and that is attributing to the presence of a different flow regime than linear flow, Thompson et al
(2012). Fig.8 shows the applicability of model 3.
Fow Rate/ Cumulative Production vs. Time (East TX Tight Gas Well)
1

10

0.1

0.01

Cumulative Production
0.1

Gp, MMSCF

q,M MSCF / Day

1
Flow Rate

0.001

0.0001
0

500

1000

1500

2000

0.01
2500

t, Day
Fig.4: Production history plot of East TX tight gas well - flow rate and cumulative production versus production time

SPE-169537-MS

Cumulative Production vs. Time (East TX Tight Gas Well)


10

Gp, MMSCF

1
y = 0.0227x0.61
R = 0.996
0.1

Cumulative Production
0.01
1

10

100

1000

10000

t , Day
Fig.5: Cumulative production versus production time for East TX tight gas

Slope,m Vs. Time (East TX Tight Gas Well )


0.55

y = 0.6406x-0.026
R = 0.99418

Slope, m

0.54

slope m
0.53

0.52
100

600

1100

1600
t, day

Fig.6: the change of Slope m versus production time for East TX tight gas

2100

2600

SPE-169537-MS

Comparsion between Eq.4 and Eq.8 (East TX Tight Gas Well)

Gp, MMSCF

Raw Data
Eq.4
Duong Model
Eq.8

500

1000

t, Day

1500

2000

2500

Fig.7: Comparison between Eq.4 and Eq.8 for East TX tight gas.

100

q/ Gp vs.Gp (East TX tight gas )

10
1

q /Gp,

day-1

0.1
0.01

0.001
0.0001
Production Rate / Cumulative Production
0.00001
0.01

0.1

Gp, MMSCF

10

Fig.8: flow rate / cumulative production vs. cumulative production for East TX tight gas

Simulation Case
We simulated case of a horizontal well with four transverse fractures using the LS-LR-DK method, Rubin (2010). We
modeled not only the fluid flow in hydraulic fractures, and SRV, but also the contribution from fracture network outside
SRV. Reservoir and fluid properties for the simulation are provided in Table1. The fractures are simulated having infinite
conductivity fractures operating under constant flowing pressure bottom hole pressure condition. Our specific goal is to
validate our new models by estimate the reserve and compare the results with the simulator output. We first generate the rate
profile of our simulated case for 20 years.

10

SPE-169537-MS

Fow Rate/ Cumulative Production vs. Time (HW Simulation Case)

10

100000

1000
1
100

Flow Rate

Gp, MMSCF

q,M MSCF / Day

10000

10

Cumulative Production
0.1
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

5000

6000

7000

1
8000

t, Day
Fig.9: Production history plot for numerical simulation case

We observe that boundary-dominated flow regime has been established before 2 years. We apply model1 formulation and
present the results in fig.10. Not a good match of cumulative gas production data with the model is observed due to the effect
of boundary dominated flow. We believe that the affect of any flow regime other than linear flow regime (i.e. compound
flow or boundary-dominated flow) will result in a variable slope m. Fig.11 shows the change in slope m over time. Fig.12
indicates that there is an excellent match of cumulative production data with model2. Model 1 and Duongs do not mach the
production history of the well as Model 1; because both model 1 and Duongs model assume the continuity of a single flow
regime which results in reserve overestimation. Fig.13 shows that Model 3 is not a perfect straight line due to the affect of
boundary dominated flow.

Cumulative Production vs Time

Gp, MMSCF

y = 0.0077x0.7
R = 0.998
0.1

0.01

Cumulative Production

0.001
1

10

t , day

Fig.10: Cumulative production versus production time for simulation case

100

1000

SPE-169537-MS

11

Slope, m vs. Time ( HW Simulation Case)

Slope, m

0.784

y = 0.8782x-0.017
R = 0.99952

0.78

0.776

0.772
0

500

1000

1500

2000

2500

t, Day

Fig.11: the change of Slope m versus production time for simulation case

Comparsion between Eq.4 and Eq.8 (Simulation Case)

2.E+04

Gp, MMSCF

1.E+04

8.E+03
Raw Data
Eq.4

4.E+03

Eq.8
Duong
0.E+00
0

2000

4000
t, Day

Fig.12: Comparison between model1 and model2 for simulation case

6000

8000

12

SPE-169537-MS

q/ Gp vs.Gp (East TX Tight Gas Well)


100
10

q /Gp, day-1

1
0.1
0.01
0.001

ProducNon Rate / CumulaNve ProducNon

0.0001
0.00001
1

10

100
Gp, MMSCF

1000

10000

100000

Fig.13: flow rate / cumulative production vs. cumulative production for simulation case

Table 1------ Input data of dual-permeability shale reservoir model

Flowing Bottom hole Pressure, Pwf


Net Pay, h
Initial Reservoir Pressure, Pi
Natural Fractured Porosity,f
Matrix Porosity, m
Matrix Permeability, km
Natural Fracture Spacing
Natural Fracture Permeability, kf
Hydraulic Fracture Half-Length, xf
Hydraulic Fracture Permeability, khf
Reservoir Temperature, T

500 psia
300 ft
3000 psia
0.00004
0.03
0.0001 md
50 ft
0.00002
350 ft
10000 md
100 f

Summary
Accurate theoretical models are essential for matching the past production performance and predicting future rates as well as
cumulative production for producing wells in unconventional reservoirs. In this paper, we proposed novel analytical
approaches to analyzing shale gas production data. The current analytical approaches are limited in that they do not account
for all the flow regimes that may occur over the life of a well. The bases of our new approaches lie in the relationship
between cumulative gas production and production time during linear flow regime and beyond linear flow regime.
Conclusion
In this work, we have successfully developed analytical solutions for a long-term linear flow regime and beyond linear flow
regime by the means of production data analysis. Following are the main conclusions drawn by this study.

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A new approach has been developed for predicting the future rate and reserve estimate for fracture-
dominated wells in unconventional reservoirs.
A log-log plot of cumulative production vs. time is observed to fit a straight line in all unconventional
reservoir cases where a dominated long linear flow exists. The slope and intercept are related to
reservoirs characteristics for tight or shale reservoirs.
The slope m is always positive and less than unity.
Several field and numerical simulation were used to validate our new approach.
The new models are not affected by the varying of flow regimes as the case with power-Law model and
Duong model.
Nomenclature

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

Intercept constant defined by Eq.4


Intercept constant defined by Eq.10
Intercept constant defined by Eq.7
slope defined by Eq.10
time function based on Eq.6
Original gas-in-place, MMSCF
Cumulative gas production, MMSCF
slope defined by Eq.4
slope defined by Eq.7
Rate, SCF/ d
time, d

References
Arps, J.J. 1945. Analysis of Decline Curves. Published in Petroleum Transactions, AIME, 160 (1945): 228-247.
Clark, A.J. 2011. Decline Curve Analysis in Unconventional Resource Plays Using Logistic Growth Models, M.S. Thesis, the University of
Texas, Austin, TX.
Clark, A.J., Lake, L.W. and Patzek, T.W.2011. Production Forecasting with Logistic Growth Models. Paper SPE 144790 presented at the
SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Denver, CO, USA,
Duong, A. 2010. An Unconventional Rate Decline Approach for Tight and Fracture-Dominated Gas Wells. Paper CSUG/SPE 137748
presented at the 2010 Canadian Unconventional Resources and International Petroleum Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 19-21
October.
Ilk, D., Rushing, J. A. and Blasingame, T.A. 2008. Exponential vs. Hyperbolic Decline in Tight Gas Sands Understanding the Origin and
Implications for Reserve Estimates Using Arps Decline Curves. Paper SPE 116731 presented at the 2008 SPE Annual Technical
Conference and Exhibition, Denver, CO, USA, 21-24 September.
Lee, W.J. and Sidle, R.E. 2010. Gas Reserves Estimation in Resource Plays. Paper SPE 130102 presented at the 2010 SPE Unconventional
Reservoir Conference, Pittsburgh, PA, USA, 12-25 February.
Mattar, L., Gault, B., Morad, K., Clarkson, C.R., Freeman, C.M., Ilk, D.and Blasingame, T.M. 2008. Production Analysis and Forecasting
of Shale Gas Reservoirs: Case History-Based Approach. Paper SPE 119897 presented at the 2008 SPE Shale Gas Production
Conference, Forth Worth, TX, USA, 16-18 November.
Pratikno, H., Reese, D., and Maguire, M. 2013. Production Analysis in the Barnett Shale- Field Example for Reservoir Characterization
Using Public Data. Paper SPE 166176 presented at the 2013 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, LO,
USA, 30 September-2 October.
Mishra, S. 2012. A New Approach to Reserves Estimation in Shale Gas Reservoirs Using Multiple Decline Curve Analysis Models. Paper
SPE 161092 presented at the 2012 SPE Eastern Regional Meeting, Lexington, KT, USA, 3-5 October.
Valko, P.P.2009.Assigning value to stimulation in the Barnett Shale-A simultaneous analysis of 7000 plus production histories and well
completion records. Paper SPE 119639 presented at the 2009 SPE hydraulic Fracturing Technology Conference, The Woodlands, TX,
USA, 19-21 January.
Vanorsdale, C., 2013. Production Decline Analysis Lessons from Classic Shale Gas Wells. Paper SPE 166205 presented at the 2013 SPE
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, New Orleans, LA, USA, 30 September-2 October.

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SPE-169537-MS

Appendix A
! = !
Taking a derivative respecting to time, we have:

(!) = ( ! )

!
= . . !!!

Where
!
=

Therefore
=

!
= . . !!!

Appendix B
We observed the slope, m, is varying with time in case of flow regime beyond linear flow, then:
! = !(!)

(B-1)

The slope is time function


= = !!
Replace Eq. (B-2) into Eq. (B-1)
! = !"

!!

Taking the derivative with respect to production time

!!
(! ) = ( !" )

Where
= .

!!!
!"
!
!"

=
!!

( !" )

Use the chain rule


!" !!
!

=
.

Where = ln(). !!
!! !

= !" .
= . . !"

!"

(ct !! . ln t )

!! !

!"

( !! . ln )

(B-2)

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15

!!

= . . !" (ln .
Where

ln

!"

!
!

!!

+ !! .
ln )

, and !! = . !!!!
!

!!

= . . !" (ln . . !!!! + !! . )


!

!!

= . . !! ( !!!! !!!! ln )
Simplify
= !"

!! !!!!

(1 p. ln t )