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SPE-181813-MS

Multiphase Flow Performance Comparison of Multiple Fractured Transverse


Horizontal Wells vs Longitudinal Wells in Tight and Unconventional
Reservoirs with Stress Dependent Permeability
Rashid S. Kassim, Missouri University of Science and Technology; Larry K. Britt, NSI Fracturing, LLC;
Shari Dunn-Norman, Missouri University of Science and Technology; Fen Yang, Missouri University of Science and
Technology
Copyright 2016, Society of Petroleum Engineers
This paper was prepared for presentation at the SPE Asia Pacific Hydraulic Fracturing Conference held in Beijing, China, 24-26 August 2016.
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
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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
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Abstract
Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal well drilling technologies have enabled the oil and gas industry to safely
unlock large reserves of oil and gas in unconventional resources, especially in shale gas and oil, and tight
gas and tight oil reservoirs. However, there is an ongoing debate on whether "the best practice" is to drill
a horizontal well in the direction of minimum horizontal stress, which would create transversely fractured
well or to drill the well in the direction of maximum horizontal stress, which would create longitudinally
fractured well. Additionally, little work has been done to understand the complex relationship that exist
between principal stresses, well azimuth and/or lateral direction.
This paper presents the results of a comprehensive multiphase flow study that investigated the relationship
between the principal stresses and lateral direction in hydraulically fractured horizontal wells, and its impact
on well performance. Secondly, the study also incorporated previous studies, where applicable, of a single
phase flow study that was conducted by the co-authors of this paper. Both studies focused on transversely
fractured wells versus longitudinally fractured wells, and how well azimuth affects productivity, reserves
and economics of horizontal wells. The previous study primarily focused on wells that produced single phase
fluids, and used single phase reservoir numerical models to study well performance. The study investigated
the importance of lateral direction as a function of reservoir permeability, lateral length, fracture-half length,
number of fracture stages, fracture conductivity, and well completion type (open-hole vs cased-hole). The
Single phase study also included a number of actual field cases where the results were compared to actual
wells in both oil and gas reservoirs that had transversely fractured or longitudinally fractured horizontal
wells.
This study would extend the findings of the single phase flow study by adding multiphase flow
dimensions such as effects of relative permeability, non-Darcy flow, adsorption gas, stress dependent
permeability on induced fractures and conductivity changes in the fracture from the tip to the wellbore.
The study used black oil reservoir simulator to study two phase flow mechanisms such as gas-water (dry
gas reservoir) and under-saturated oil reservoir (oil-water), and compositional reservoir simulator to model
three-phase flow (oil-gas-water) to investigate each parameters' impact on well performance. This study is

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unique as it examines the permeability ranges from wells with 1 Nano-Darcy (0.000001 md) to 10.0 milliDarcy in a multiphase flow reservoir simulation. Additionally, this paper presents the first multiphase flow
study that thoroughly compared the performance of transversely fractured versus longitudinally fractured
horizontal wells.
Key features of the study that would benefit the petroleum industry are;
1. Methodologies for modeling shale gas and shale oil wells with stress dependent permeability,
adsorption gas and non-Darcy flow effect using black oil models and compositional reservoir
simulators.
2. Reservoir permeability based cut-off criterion that can be used as guide when selecting whether to
drill transversely fractured vs longitudinally fractured horizontal wells.
3. Integrating the reservoir objectives and geo-mechanical limitations into horizontal well
completions and stimulation strategies.
4. Incorporate the effect of reservoir fluid type and fluid properties such as oil composition and
density (API) into the decision analysis when comparing transverse horizontal wells to longitudinal
horizontal wells.
5. Stimulation optimization strategies focused on well recovery, productivity and EUR as function of
hydraulic fracture spacing (or number of fracture stages) and reservoir permeability

Introduction
The contributions of low-permeability reservoirs such as tight sands and shale gas and shale oil to the overall
production has significantly increased, and currently accounts for more than half of all gas production, and
an increasing percentage of oil production in the US. Two technological innovations, horizontal drilling
and hydraulic fracturing, are primarily responsible for the economic viability of these low-permeability
reservoirs, which two decades ago were considered commercially not viable. Though both technological
innovations were in existence since late 1960s, there were operational challenges that made execution more
difficult, especially in the stimulation technology. Issues such as deviation in the wellbore, misalignment of
perforations and principal stresses and weakly consolidated formations made stimulation execution more
difficult by requiring higher treatment pressure (and more horse power), which meant higher stimulation
cost.
Research from field and laboratory tests of rock mechanics have shown that hydraulic fractures propagate
perpendicular to the minimum horizontal stress (h) in a normal fault environment creating transverse
fractures. This occurs if the perforations are aligned with the preferred fracture plane (PFP), which in this
case is the maximum horizontal stress (H). However, the debate has centered on whether transversely
fractured horizontal wells or longitudinally fractured horizontal wells are appropriate and "best practice" in
a given area and reservoir permeability. This is important since oil and gas companies are simultaneously
exploring and producing from both unconventional and conventional resources.
Pearson et al. (1992) presented a paper titled "Results of Stress-Oriented and Aligned perforating in
Fracturing deviated Wells" based on a study of the Kuparuk River Field, Alaska. Pearson stated that
successful perforation alignment significantly reduced the perforation friction loss encountered during
hydraulic fracturing, and lower perforation friction pressure allowed them operationally to execute larger
fracture treatments, and achieved longer fracture half-lengths (xf).
Valko at al. (1996) studied the performance of hydraulically fractured horizontal wells in high
permeability reservoirs, and stated that longitudinally fractured horizontal wells deserve further attention.
Generally, high permeability formations are fractured in a process called "Frack-Packs" where the desired
fracture treatment outcome is to develop screen-outs, leading to wider but shorter fractures. Valko compared
production rates and cumulative productions for longitudinally fractured horizontal wells versus vertical

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wells, both fractured and un-fractured. For economics analysis, Valko used the concept of "discounted
revenue", which basically takes the "time-value of money" into consideration. This allows easy calculation
of net-present value (NPV), discounted return on investment (DROI), and probably the most important
parameter, discounted profit-to-investment ratio (DPIR), which R.D. Seba (1987) argued as "the only
investment selection criterion you would ever need" in his paper of the same title.
Hydraulic fracturing optimization study titled "Horizontal Well Completion, Stimulation Optimization,
and Risk Mitigation" was present by (Britt and Smith 2009). In the study they developed well performance
and economic criteria for drilling longitudinal and transverse horizontal wells, given reservoir objectives and
geomechanics limitation. Britt and Smith concluded that "economic optimization studies can be undertaken
to align the completion and stimulation plans with the horizontal well objectives", and highly emphasized
the role in-situ stress plays in horizontal well completion and fracture stimulation successes.
Economides et al. (2010) presented detail evaluation results from transverse, longitudinal and verticals
wells for both oil and gas reservoirs. The permeability range of the study was from 0.001 md to 500 md,
and had mostly similar reservoir and fracture input data for the fracture design model. Though Economides
conducted large number of fracture designs and produced results shown in table 1, the models used for the
parametric studies lacked multiphase flow capability and may not be suitable for liquids rich tight sands and
shale plays. Table 1 gives suitable options for selecting completion design based on reservoir permeability
for both oil and gas wells from this study compared to Economides' study.
Table 1Suitable options for fracturing wells (from this Study) compared to Economides' Study
Economides' Results
Best Option

Critical Permeability in
volatile oil and Condensate
reservoirs (API 48)

Black oil type


reservoirs (API 38)

Dry gas
reservoirs

Comments

Oil Well

Gas Well

Longitudinal
Fractures

K > 1.8 md

K > 2.0 md

K> 0.9 md

Reservoir fluid
composition effects

k > 10 md

k > 5 md

Transverse
Fractures

K < 0.07 md

K < 0.3 md

K<0.05 md

Non-Darcy flow
effects transverse at
higher permeability

k < 10 md

k < 0.5 md

Liu et al. (2012) focused on moderate permeability gas reservoirs (0.01 md to 5.0 md) in the study of
transversely versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells using unified fracture design (UFD) introduced
by Economides et al. (2002), and included in his analysis non-Darcy flow effect on well productivity.
However, Liu concludes that optimization of drainage and mechanism of flow is more important than well
architecture, i.e. transverse vs longitudinal fracturing. This conclusion seems to minimize the integrated
nature of fracture conduits and reservoir drainage in low permeability reservoirs, and its impact on flow
mechanism.
Yang et al. (2015) conducted one of the most extensive research projects in the performance comparison
of transversely versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells, and presented her findings in paper with
eye-catching title called "The Effect of Well Azimuth or Don't Let Your Landman Plan Your Well Path!".
Yang used a single phase numerical simulator, and covered a wider range of permeability reservoirs, from
0.0005 md to 5 md, and modeled both oil and gas reservoirs. In her conclusion, Yang stated that there is a
critical permeability in which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperforms transversely fractured
horizontal wells, and for oil and gas reservoirs the critical permeability was 0.4 and 0.04 md, respectively
for open hole completion.
The motivation for conducting this research came out of the realization that all previous studies that
looked into the performance comparison of transversely versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells,
were limited in scope either by the range of reservoir permeability studied or the single phase flow models

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that were used in the study. Secondly, none of the previous work undertook extensive integrated completion
and reservoir simulation study that modeled multiphase flow in transversely fractured vs longitudinal
fractured horizontal wells. Thirdly, most previous studies included cost (from one or two oilfields) in their
analysis, which might have limited applicability of the recommendations, since cost is a subjective issue
and varies across regions and companies. In this study, discounted recovery (production) and present value
(PV) were used for the economic analysis. Fourth, this study incorporated the effect of non-Darcy flow,
adsorption gas, relative permeability effect on fluid flow in the fracture, and impact of stress dependent
permeability on fracture conductivity, which were missing in previous studies.

Methodologies used in the Study


The study of multiphase flow and performance comparison of multiple fractured transverse horizontal wells
versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells in tight sands and unconventional reservoirs with stress
dependent permeability was conducted using three different reservoir simulations models that were built
for each of the reservoir fluid type studied. The first reservoir simulation model was for a dry gas reservoir
(in contact with water) and produced only gas and water. The second reservoir simulation model was built
for a black oil model type reservoir (under-saturated), which honored accurate reservoir fluid properties
for Permian Basin oil and had general rock properties. The third reservoir simulation model was built for
saturated reservoirs and used compositional reservoir simulation methods and honored the reservoir fluid
properties of Eagle-Ford oil and representative rock properties.
For each of the three reservoir fluid types; dry gas, black oil and compositional oil, 72 static reservoir
simulation models were built to study the effect of well azimuth, reservoir permeability, and the number of
fractures on well performance. Parameters analyzed were well economics, productivity and EUR (estimated
ultimate recovery). Additionally, this study investigated the impact of stress dependent permeability on
induced fractures, impact of permeability changes in the fracture from the wellbore to the tip of the fracture,
and effect of adsorbed gas on well productivity, EUR and reserves. Adsorbed gas is critically important to
shale plays that have higher TOC (total organic carbon) and sizeable percentage of adsorbed gas. Most of
the previous studies referenced in this paper on adsorption gas was done in coal-bed methane reservoirs
where gas diffusion is the major fluid flow mechanism.
Reservoir Simulation Methods
Figure 1 shows layout of the processes and steps used to build the multiphase flow reservoir simulation
models for each of the three reservoir fluid types studied. For the black oil and compositional models, steps
such as PVT analysis and EOS (equation of state) modeling, and generation of pseudo-components were
included. The impact of stress dependent permeability was incorporated into all of the three reservoir fluid
types while the effect of gas adsorption was included only in the dry gas reservoir models.

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Figure 1Multiphase flow reservoir fluid types and steps used

Additionally, table 2 shows an example of the 72 static reservoir simulation models built and run for
the dry gas reservoir. The table shows the range of reservoir permeabilities studied, the number of fracture
in each simulation, fracture dimensions (xf, kf, wf), and whether the well was transversely fractured or
longitudinally fractured horizontal well.
Table 2Example of the 72 Static reservoir models built and simulated for one of the 3 reservoir types

Well Economics and Performance Analysis


Investment in energy assets often requires management to make decisions under uncertainty, and valuation
of oil and gas projects involve analyzing objective data while using qualitative decision making process
that assess probabilities of risk. However, there are three shortcomings that often influence any person's
economic analysis toolkit; the first problem is bias where the person carrying-out the economic analysis
brings his or her own preconceived ideas into the analysis. The second problem is complexity due to the
scale of the project or the long times required to realize return on investment (ROI). The third problem
often encountered in economic analysis is uncertainty, which means probabilistic risk models are often not
applicable since the probabilities are not known.1n 2013, (Chamorro) in the book titled "Investment in
Energy Assets under Uncertainty" stated that uncertainty in energy investment is specially "compounded
by the large capital investment involved and the long turnover times of energy systems".

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The metrics used in the economic analysis of this study can be grouped into two categories; operational
metrics and performance metrics. The operational metrics measure issues related to operational efficiency of
the system such as gas-oil ratio (GOR) and water-cut percentage (WC %), which can cause facility handling
and capacity issue. On the other hand, performance metrics measure well productivity and performance,
which are oil and gas production rates, cumulative production, and estimated ultimate recovery (EUR).
This study does not include cost ($$), whether fixed or variable cost, into the economic analysis for two
objective reasons; first, cost varies across regions and producers even in the same geographic location.
Secondly, cost has no effect on well production (the reservoir energy determines it), which is what this study
uses to compare the performance of transversely fractured versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells.
Equations 1 and 2 below show how the economic analysis was done.
Two methods of economic analysis, discounted recovery (DR) and present value (PV), were used in
this study. In general, capital budgeting and asset valuation require two steps; first, estimate production or
expected cash flow from the project, and then evaluate the riskiness of the projected production and cashflow to determine the appropriate interest rate to use. The interest rate used in the study was 10% per annum.
Discounted recovery (DR), which is cumulative recovery discounted at an annual interest rate, was used
to compare the economic performance of each horizontal well type.
(1)
Where;

=Discounted recovery in (bbls or Mscf)


DR
= cumulative production(bbls or Mscf) in time, i
Ni
= interest rate (%), and n = number of years
r
The present value (PV) is the expected future cash-flow coming from the oil and gas production
discounted at an annual rate, and can be calculated by multiplying DR (discounted recovery) by the price
of oil or gas as shown below by equation 2.
(2)
PO parameter in the present value (PV) calculation formula was set to 1 in this study. It's similar to
discount factor tables used in finance. Hence, to calculate the PV in any price or currency, you just multiple
equation 2 by the price oil or gas.
Principal stresses and fracture Orientation
In a normal fault stress environment, the vertical stress (V) is principal stress one, the maximum horizontal
stress (H) is principal stress two, and the minimum horizontal stress (h) is least principal stress. Figure 2
below shows a horizontal well with 10 transverse fracture, which was drilled in the direction of the minimum
horizontal stress (h) and figure 2a shows a horizontal well with 4 longitudinal fractures that was drilled
in the direction of the maximum horizontal stress (H). In rock mechanics, there are three methods for
determining in-situ stresses; field tests such as mini-frac and step-rate tests, laboratory tests such uniaxial
and triaxial tests, and stress calculations from rock elastic properties using well logs i.e. Young's modulus
(E) and Poisson's Ratio (). However, it's not easy to determine the intermediate principal stress, which
in a normal fault environment, would be maximum horizontal stress (H) because it's greatly impacted by
tectonic plate stresses.

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Figure 2A horizontal well with 10 transverse fractures and 500 ft. of fracture half-length

Figure 2aA horizontal well with 4 longitudinal fractures and 500 ft. of fracture half-length

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While this study compares the performance of transversely fractured to longitudinally fractured
horizontal wells, there is a well-documented uncertainty in the direction and azimuth of the longitudinal
fracture configuration once it exits the perforations. The direction of propagation is dictated by the
intermediate and far-field in-situ stresses. In one of the earlier studies, (Hallam and Last, 1991) presented
an experimental result, which showed that deviation of more 10 (degrees) from the Azimuth of preferred
fracture plane, would always create transverse fractures as the fracture propagates away from the wellbore.
Similarly, (Economides et al. 2010) stated that "unless the wellbore azimuth is very tightly controlled,
transverse fractures are the most likely scenario."
Static Reservoir Model Description
A static 3D reservoir simulation model was built for the study, and incorporated in-situ reservoir fluid and
rock properties. Figure 2 shows the 3D gridding scheme of the static reservoir simulation models, while table
2 shows reservoir input data used in all of the simulation models. The static reservoir models had 10 layers
each, used different methods of initializations such gravity depth equilibrium and vertical block centered
to calculate pressure, saturation and relative permeability changes. Additionally, to model hydraulically
fractured wells, the study incorporated Local Grid Refinement (LGR) to closely match the grid-block size
to actual fracture width (wf).
Table 2Reservoir input Parameters used in the Simulation Models

PVT and Equation of State (EoS) Modeling


Reservoir simulation studies require good PVT data, and the use of "best practices" when acquiring reservoir
fluid samples or carrying out laboratory PVT analysis, especially for oil reservoirs since both the reservoir
fluid composition and the properties vary from one oilfield to another or in the same reservoir. Figure 4
shows Eagle-Ford oil component composition plot while figure 5 shows Eagle-Ford oil pseudo-components
that was imported into the compositional reservoir simulator after thorough PVT analysis, and used in the
simulation models (modified from Whitson and Sunjerga 2012).

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Figure 3Example of the 3D gridding scheme used for building the static reservoir simulation model

Figure 4Eagle-Ford Oil Composition and Mole Fraction of SCN distribution (%)

Eagle-Ford oil composition was primarily made of lighter hydrocarbon components, as shown in figure
4 and figure 5, and the percentage of C1 (Methane) to C2 (Ethane) was 71.8% of the overall mole fraction.
Secondly, the initial reservoir pressure (Pi) was 4,000 psi, as shown in table 2, but the saturation pressure
(bubble point, Pb) obtained from the flash calculation of Eagle-Ford oil was 4,220 psi, which means the
reservoir was saturated, and all the three phases (oil, gas and water) existed at reservoir conditions from the
start. That is why a compositional reservoir simulator was used in the Eagle-Ford oil modeling.

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Figure 5Eagle-Ford Pseudo-Components generated after lumping

The PVT analysis was carried out using cubic equations-of-state (EoS) to match saturation pressure, and
to predict reservoir fluid properties of un-lumped oil composition (single carbon number SCN) components
shown in figure 4 i.e. C26+). Similarly, the pseudo-components were tuned using 2nd EOS after the
components were lumped into 7 pseudo-components based on the relative closeness of the physical and
chemical properties of the components. Figure 5 shows the result of lumped oil composition. The EOS used
in the study was 1978 Peng-Robinson cubic equation shown below.
(3)
(3a)
Where;

P
T

= Pressure, psia
=temperature in Rankine, R
= specific volume, ft/mole
= gas constant,

a
= attraction parameter
b
= repulsion parameter
Zc
= critical compressibility factor and for for Peng Robinson EoS, Zc = 0.3074
The two EOS constants, attraction and repulsion parameters (a & b), are defined at the critical points, and
are function of PC (critical pressure) and TC (critical temperature) as expressed in equations 4 and 5 below:
(4)
(5)
However, when calculating points outside the critical point, the value of b(Tc) does not change in the
flash envelope, but the value of a(T) changes and need to be re-calculated using equation 6 and 7.

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(6)
(7)
Where is acentric factor, which is a thermodynamic property and is almost zero for spherical molecules,
but is defined for pure components just like TC and PC.
For mixtures, the mixing rules formula was used to calculate binary interaction parameters (BIPs) as
shown by equations 8, 9 and 10.
(8)

(9)
(10)
Where ij = binary interaction coefficients and is assumed to be independent of pressure and temperature.
The EoS was tuned through regression analysis by adjusting PC, TC, and the interaction coefficients (),
especially for C26+, because its physical properties and real chemical structure are unknown.
Modeling Gas Adsorption, Stress Dependent Permeability and non-Darcy flow
Two of the key geochemical properties used for assessing the potential of shale gas reservoirs are the total
organic carbon (TOC), and gas volume and capacity. In shale gas reservoirs, the total gas in place (GIP) is
made of gas adsorbed on the surface of the kerogen, and gas stored in the primary and secondary porosity.
In this study, Langmuir isotherm (LI) was used to model gas adsorption. The isotherm (LI) requires two
parameters; Langmuir volume (VL), which is the maximum adsorbed gas, and Langmuir pressure (PL),
which is the pressure at half the Langmuir volume (VL). For methane (CH4), VL = 0.10 (gmole/lb.) = 165
(SCF/ton), and PL = 550 psi was used, which were obtained from Langmuir isotherm for gases presented
by (Lane 1995). The moles of adsorbed gas per unit mass rock (gmole/lb.) were calculated using equations
11 for single component, and equation 12 for multi-component adsorption.
(11)
(12)
Models that describe pressure dependency of permeability, and porosity are generally very similar
because of the good correlations between porosity and permeability i.e. the Kozeny equation. Secondly,
most of the models either use an exponential relationship or power-law relationship. Evan et al. (1997)
presented an exponential relationship for stress-dependent permeability, which he stated as the "best fit"
equation to his experimental data and is given below
(13)
Where K = permeability at effective stress, Pe, KO = sample permeability when Pe = 0, and = curve
fitting parameter. Shi and Wang (1986) in their paper suggested that stress-dependent permeability is best
estimated by a power-law equations like;

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(14)
Where p = is a material constant.
In this study, stress dependent permeability and porosity were calculated in two methods; the first method
was using equation 15 below;
(15)
Where 0 = original porosity and P0 = original pressure, psi and Cf = formation compressibility. To use
equation 15, two types of rock formation were defined in the reservoir simulator; rock type 1 for the matrix
rock, and rock type 2 for the fracture. The second method used to calculate stress dependent permeability
(SDP) was the use of pressure dependent permeability tables, which uses dimensionless multipliers (m) for
both porosity and permeability. The SDP arrays were generated using equation;
(16)
Where alpha () is material dependent that can be determined from laboratory tests, and Km = minimum
permeability, md
In hydraulically fractured wells, especially in shale gas, there are multiple flow regimes that can occur
within the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV). For shale gas, there is Darcy flow and diffusion in the matrix,
and Darcy flow and non-Darcy flow, in the fractures. In this study, all 3 flow regimes were incorporated
into the models. The non-Darcy flow effect was modeled using Forchheimer Flow equation.
(17)
(18)
Where P = pressure, psi, = superficial velocity, ft/s, and = beta factor and is experimentally determined
from the slope of Forchheimer graph, which is a plot of the inverse of apparent permeability (1/Kap) versus a
pseudo-Reynolds number (/). However, because is a property of the porous media, numerous empirical
correlation have been proposed, but in this study (Evans and Civan,1994) correlation was used, which
is given below.
(19)
Results and Discussion
In this study, all the fractures were assumed to bi-wing planar fractures, and the reservoir had no natural
fractures. The reservoir simulation models built for the study had 56 cases of transversely fractured
horizontal wells, and 16 cases of longitudinal fractured horizontal wells for each of the three reservoir fluid
types studied. In total, there were 168 transverse cases and 48 longitudinal cases just of the base case study
of multiphase flow. Additionally, 56 more cases were run to investigate effects of gas adsorption and stress
dependent permeability. Hence, this study required a lot of computing power and manpower resources to
successfully complete it.
The results obtained from the multiphase flow performance comparison of transversely fractured versus
longitudinal fractured horizontal wells were analyzed based on the reservoir fluid type, i.e. dry gas reservoir
(2-phase flow), black oil type reservoir (3-phase flow), and compositional type (3-phase flow). Secondly,
the oil reservoir simulation models (Permian Basin and Eagle-Ford) were constrained only with bottomhole pressure (BHP), and the BHP was set to 250 psi. The dry gas reservoir was constrained with wellhead

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pressure of 750 psi. Thirdly, massive amount of data was generated in the reservoir simulation output
files, and there were many parameters that can be visualized either in 3D results or graphs. However,
the discussion and analysis would be limited to the parameters that are within the scope of the study,
which was to compare the performance of transversely fractured versus longitudinally fractured horizontal
wells in terms of well economics, productivity and recovery. Hence, parameters used in the study were;
productivity metrics (cumulative oil, gas, and water; oil rate, gas rate, and water rate), well recovery metrics
(oil, gas, and water recovery), and operational metrics (water-cut, gas-oil ratio (GOR), and pressure drawn
profile). Additionally, parameters such as incremental gas production from adsorbed gas, and effect of stress
dependent permeability on well recovery were analyzed.
Results from Dry gas reservoir
The result from the dry gas reservoir modeling was a 2-phase (gas-water) simulation. Figure 6 shows
comparison of the estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) from the dry gas reservoir simulation for transversely
fractured horizontal wells versus longitudinal fractured horizontal wells. Additionally, figure 6 also shows
the result of a horizontal well with 42 transverse fractures (42T-SP) that was modeled in previous studies
with a single phase numeral simulator by (Yang et al. 2014)

Figure 6Dry Gas Reservoir recovery plot result obtained from the 2-phase (gas-Water) reservoir simulation

Analysis of the result from the dry gas reservoir shown in figure 6 illustrate three interesting findings;
first, comparison of the gas recovery from the single phase simulator (42T-SP) versus the result of 40T (a

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horizontal well with 40 transverse fractures) from this study were exactly the same, as shown in the graph.
Secondly, at permeability higher than 1.0 md, all the transverse horizontal wells (with fractures from 4 to
40), and longitudinally fractured wells had similar well performance. The number of stages/fractures, and
well orientation or azimuth didn't make a difference in terms of well productivity or recovery. Thirdly, at
lower permeability, longitudinally fractured horizontal wells performed worst among all the wells studied.
This means longitudinally fractured wells are not suitable for low and ultra-low permeability unconventional
resources.
The gas recovery factor plot, shown by figure 7, confirms the result obtained previously in the EUR
plot of figure 6. Additionally, the result in figure 7 shows that in low permeability reservoirs, very small
percentage of the original gas-in place (GIP) was recovered even after 50 years of production. Also,
while transverse fractured horizontal wells outperform longitudinally fractured horizontal wells in low
permeability reservoirs, the result shows that the number fractures in a horizontal well are critical to the
well performance, which means the more fractures a transverse horizontal well has in a low permeability
reservoir, the better the performance. For instance, the recovery factor and EUR of a horizontal well with
40 transverse fractures is 10-times better than that of a horizontal well with 4 transverse fractures when
reservoir permeability is equal to or less than 0.0001 md.

Figure 7Gas recover factor after 50 years of production from the 2-phase (gas-water) simulation

Figure 8 shows cumulative gas production for transverse and longitudinal horizontals wells with reservoir
permeability of 0.1 md, and different number of fractures. The result shows that for gas reservoirs with
permeability of 0.1 md as the number fractures increase, especially for transversely fracture horizontal wells,
a point of diminishing return was reached. For instance, the 50 year cumulative gas production was the same
for a well with 10T (10 transverse fractures) and one with 40T (40 transverse fractures).

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Figure 8Gas recovery comparison for wells with 0.1 md, but different
number of Transverse (4T, 10T) and longitudinal (2L & 4L) fractures

Similarly, figure 9 shows the cumulative gas recovery for wells in reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md.
These included 7 cases of horizontal wells with transverse fractures from 4 (or 4T in the graph) to 40
fractures, and two cases of wells with longitudinal fractures (2L and 4L). There is clear separation of the
plots in figure 9, which highlights the importance of having more transverse fractures in low permeability
gas reservoirs. Figure 9 also shows that there was very sharp increase in the cumulative production during the
earlier years (10 years or less), for transverse fractured horizontal wells with 30 and 40 fractures accelerating
recovery. Hence, most of the gas recovery happened within first 10 years. In fact, the 40T (40 transverse
fractured) well produced 78% of its cumulative recovery within the first 10 years of production, while the
30T well produced 72%.

Figure 9Gas recovery comparison for wells with 0.0001 md, but different
number of transverse (10T, 30T) and longitudinal (2L & 4L) fractures

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Figure 10 shows the result of 50 years cumulative gas production for transversely fractured horizontal
wells with varying hydraulic fracture stage spacing and reservoir permeability. The graph shows some
interesting findings, which would be useful to the petroleum industry, especially when planning stimulation
designs. First, the results from figure 10 can be used to estimate the optimum hydraulic fracture spacing,
and the number of hydraulic fractures needed for transversely fractured horizontal wells across a wide range
of reservoir permeabilities. Secondly, the result can be used as a guide for optimizing well completions
and economics. For instance, increasing the number of hydraulic fracture stages for a horizontal gas well
with 1.0 md would not improve well recovery, but would definitely increase stimulation cost. On the other
hand, increasing the number of hydraulic fractures in a transverse horizontal well at reservoir permeability
of 0.001 md would significantly improve gas recovery.

Figure 10Gas EUR as function of hydraulic fracture spacing and reservoir permeability

Critical Permeability: Longitudinal vs Transverse fractures in gas reservoirs


Previous studies that investigated the critical permeability at which longitudinal fractures outperform
transverse fractures were limited either because of the use of single phase numerical models or the range of
reservoir permeability covered. Therefore, this is the first time that a multiphase flow reservoir simulator was
used to determine the critical permeability at which longitudinally fractured wells outperforms transversely
fractured horizontal wells.
Figure 11 shows the critical permeability at which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform
transversely fractured horizontal wells in multiphase flow environment. Secondly, figure 11 shows two plots
(red curve and green curve), and a table which contains the data used to plot the graphs. The regression
equation displayed by the red curve is very good fit, and has R-square of 98.2%. The data points used in
the red curve were from 4 fractures to 20 fractures because after 20 fractures, the critical permeability does
not change. In the green curve, all data points obtained from the study were plotted, and it shows a good
regression fit of 92%. The importance of the two regression equations from figure 11 is that they can be
used as a guide to well development, and as a decision criteria when deciding the optimum well direction
to drill and stimulate horizontal wells. The critical permeability plots also show that there is a permeability
transition range where the well performance depends on the number fractures, and that both longitudinal
and transverse wells perform equally.

SPE-181813-MS

17

Figure 11Critical permeability when longitudinally fractured


outperforms transversely fractured horizontal well in gas reservoirs

Figure 12 shows the pressure drawdown profile observed after 30 years of production for a horizontal
well with 10 transverse fractures and permeability of 0.0001 md. The reservoir simulation was done using
CMG's (computer modeling group) GEM, which is an advanced general equation-of-state compositional
and unconventional reservoir simulator. These results show that there is very little pressure drawdown
outside the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV) area, and most of the drawdown occurred within short
distance of the fractures. The average pressure within the fracture grids was 250 psi, as shown by figure
12. Secondly, the drainage area used in this study was 640 acres, and the result indicates that two-thirds
of the drainage area saw very little drawdown or depletion. Hence, optimum well spacing configuration
for unconventional resources is critical to the success of field development. Thirdly, the result of figure 12
shows the importance of fracture half-length in low permeability gas reservoirs, and the 500 ft. fracture
half-length used in this study was not optimum for 640 acres drainage area.

Figure 12Pressure drawdown profile after 30 years of production


for a 10 frac transvers well with reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md

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Effect of Adsorption gas on well productivity and reserves


Gas adsorption on solid surfaces are classified based on the type of isotherm. Brunauer et al (Brunauer et
al. 1938) presented study that identified five different types of isotherms, i.e. type 1 to type 5. Langmuir
isotherm type 1 shown by equation 11, which is a function of Langmuir volume (VL) and Langmuir pressure
(PL), and is generally considered good fit for modeling methane gas adsorption in porous media. Coalbed
Methane (CBM), which has free gas and adsorbed gas just like shale gas, was modeled using Langmuir
isotherm by (Bumb and McKee 1988) in a study which demonstrated that the process of gas desorption in
Coalbed Methane (CBM) and Devonian shale obeys Langmuir isotherm.
Therefore, in this study, Langmuir isotherm was used to study the effect of gas adsorption/desorption on
well productivity, reserves and well economics by comparing gas recovery results of reservoir simulation
models with Langmuir isotherm versus those without it.
Figure 13 compares the result of two simulation cases; one with adsorption and model without adsorption
for a transverse horizontal well with 10 fractures. The analysis was done in terms of discounted recovery (at
an annual interest rate of 10% and calculated using equations 1 & 2) and cumulative gas production. The
result shows that there is a 19% difference in EUR between the two cases, which can make a big difference
in well economics and reserve bookings. Secondly, the result also shows that the differences between the
two plots is getting bigger with time, which means that contribution from adsorption gas mostly occurs in
the later years of well production when the reservoir pressure has been depleted. However, when discounted
recovery method was used to compare the results of the simulation case with gas adsorption to that of
without adsorption, two new finds were discovered. First, most of the economically viable contributions
from adsorbed gas occurred in earlier years of production, from year 2 to year 25, maximizing early well
production. Though higher percentage of adsorbed gas contribution occurred in the later years of well
production, the economic benefit of the adsorbed gas was diminished by "time value of money". Secondly,
when economic analysis was applied to the results of the two simulation cases, the difference between the
case with adsorption and the case without adsorption gas was found to be 14.9%, which is less than the 19.5%
obtained from the gas EUR method. Thirdly, the difference between the two simulation cases peaked at year
6, and gradually declined until the end of well production life. These findings suggest that contribution from
adsorption gas start earlier than thought in well's production life, and reach peak contribution in the middle
years, but decline gradually in the later years. Hence, the benefits of adsorbed gas and its impact on well
performance whether in terms of gas EUR (19.5%) or discounted recovery (DR) (14.9%) are significant.

SPE-181813-MS

19

Figure 13Discounted recover and Cumulative gas production with and without adsorption
for a transverse horizontal well with 10 fractures in a reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md

Figure 14 shows three cases that compares the cumulative gas production of transversely fractured
horizontal wells with and without adsorption. The graph compares the result of transverse horizontal
wells with 4 fracture, 10 fractures, and 20 fractures. The result highlights three important findings; first,
adsorption/desorption requires pressure drawdown and contribution from adsorbed gas would only occur
when pressure depletion reaches the Langmuir pressure (PL). Secondly, at higher reservoir permeability,
adsorbed gas contribution to the well cumulative production was massive and behaved more like Coalbed
Methane (CBM) where the major flow regime is gas diffusion. Thirdly, the result also shows the effect of the
number of fractures on the contribution of adsorbed gas, especially in mid-range permeabilities (from 0.005
md to 0.9 md). Additionally, other factors like reservoir rock density, and Langmuir parameters (Langmuir
pressure (PL) and Langmuir volume (VL) effected contributions from adsorbed gas.

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SPE-181813-MS

Figure 14Comparison of gas recovery with and without adsorption for transversely fractured horizontal wells

Results from Black oil-type reservoir (3-phase: Oil, Gas and Water)
The reservoir fluid used in the black oil model was Permian Basin oil. Table 3 shows some of the PVT
properties of the Permian basin oil that was used in the multiphase flow simulation study. There were two
reasons why a black oil model reservoir simulation was selected and why Permian basin oil was appropriate
to use in the study of multiphase flow. First, as table 3 shows, the Permian basin oil's saturation pressure
was 2,000 psi while initial reservoir pressure used in the study was 4,000 psi. Hence, at reservoir conditions,
there was no-free gas, and only two fluid phases exited; oil and water, which black oil reservoir simulator
can fairly model without significant errors. Secondly, test models were run to compare the results of a black
oil model versus a compositional model using Permian basin oil, and the result showed that there was very
little difference in recovery (of oil and gas), and didn't warrant the time and the computing power needed
to run compositional simulator.
Table 3Permian Basin oil used in the Multiphase flow modeling

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21

Figure 15 shows cumulative production from the black oil reservoir simulator. The result compares
oil recovery for transversely fractured horizontal wells versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells
across permeability ranges; from 10 Nano-Darcy to 10 mili-Darcy. There were seven transversely fractured
horizontal well cases (4, 6, 8,10,20,30 and 40) and two longitudinally fractured horizontal well cases (with
2 and 4 fractures). The results show that at low reservoir permeabilities, longitudinally fractured horizontal
wells performed poorer among all cases studied. In fact, a transverse horizontal well with only 4 fractures
in a 4,000 foot lateral length performed better than a longitudinal horizontal well with 4 fractures. However,
at higher reservoir permeabilities, longitudinal fractures outperformed transverse fractures. The results in
figure 15 shows that longitudinally fractured horizontal well with only 2 fractures had higher cumulative
oil production than a transversely fractured horizontal well with 40 fractures at reservoir permeability of
2.0 md. This is a very important finding because stimulation cost is one of the biggest expenses, and more
fracture stages can result greater expenses. Therefore, at higher permeabilities, the optimum well completion
method is drill longitudinally fractured horizontal wells.

Figure 15Oil EUR for Transversely fractured vs longitudinally fracture horizontal wells

Figure 16 below shows the result of economic analysis and compares the discounted recovery for
transversely fractured horizontal wells versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells. Equations 1 and
2 were used to calculate the discounted recovery (DR) and present value (PV), where the cumulative oil
production per year was discounted at annual rate of 10%. The results in figure 16 and that of figure 15
illustrate similar findings and can be used to derive a similar conclusion when comparing the performance of

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SPE-181813-MS

transverse horizontal wells versus longitudinal horizontal wells. In short, whether we use economic analysis
metrics or productivity analysis metrics, the outcome of the performance comparison didn't change.

Figure 1650 years discounted recovery comparison for transversely fractured vs longitudinally fractured horizontally

The result in figure 17 below compares oil recovery for transversely fractured versus longitudinally
fractured horizontal wells at a reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md. There were 7 cases of transverse wells
with fractures from (4, 6, 8, 10, 20, 30, & 40) and two cases of longitudinal (2L & 4L). The result shows that
in low permeability reservoirs the number of fractures and horizontal well orientation are critical to well
performance. The two lowest performing wells were horizontal wells that were longitudinally fractured,
which means at reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md longitudinal wells are not good option.

SPE-181813-MS

23

Figure 17Oil recovery comparison at reservoir permeability of 0.0001 md for transverse wells vs longitudinal wells

In figure 18, the oil recovery comparison for transversely fractured versus longitudinally fractured
horizontal wells at reservoir permeability of 1.0 md showed that both transverse and longitudinal horizontal
wells performed equally well. For instance, a transverse fractured horizontal well with 10 fractures and
longitudinally fractured horizontal well with 4 fractures had similar oil recovery. The result also shows that
transverse wells with more fractures (20T, 30T and 40T) performed better, and had most of their production
during the earlier life of the well. Hence, accelerated well recovery can be achieved with more hydraulic
fractures in transverse horizontal wells in low permeability reservoirs, but the plateauing of the curves
suggests diminishing returns.

Figure 18Oil recovery comparison for transversely fractured versus


longitudinally fractured horizontal wells at reservoir permeability of 1.0 md

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SPE-181813-MS

Critical permeability in multiphase flow has not been well researched, and often a range of permeabilities
such as above 10.0 md or 20.0 md was reported although no one has definitively investigated what the
critical permeability cut-off is, especially for oil reservoirs. Figure 19 shows the critical permeability at
which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform transversely fractured horizontal wells. There
were two regression analysis that fit to the data. The red curve shows the first 5 data points and has Rsquared of 99%, but the R-square drops to 93% if all the data points are included in the regression analysis
as shown in the "green curve".

Figure 19Critical permeability at which longitudinal fractures outperform transverse fractures


obtained using Black oil model reservoir simulation using Permian basin oil and fluid properties.

The critical permeability was determined to be 2.0 md for black oil type reservoirs that have reservoir
fluid properties similar to that of Permian basin oil. Additionally, figure 19 results show that after 2.0 md, the
critical permeability at which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform transversely fractured
horizontal wells is independent of the number of fractures
Oil EUR as function of fracture spacing and reservoir permeability
Figure 20 shows 3D plot of oil recovery as function of two critically important parameters to any
hydraulically stimulated horizontal wells; reservoir permeability and hydraulic fracture/stage spacing.
The result shows that at low permeability (0.00001 md to 0.01md), reducing fracture stage spacing in
transversely fractured horizontal wells would greatly improve oil recovery. Secondly, at higher reservoir
permeabilities (greater than 1.0 md), the benefit of placing more hydraulic fractures in horizontal wells

SPE-181813-MS

25

greatly diminishes and there was very little difference between 700 ft fracture stage spacing and 100 ft
fracture stage spacing in terms of oil well recovery. Thirdly, the result of figure 20 can be used as guide
when designing hydraulic fracturing. Figure 20 can be used for determining the number of fracture stages
required in a transverse horizontal well at different ranges of reservoir permeability. However, partial geomechanics effects was included in the study through the use of stress dependent permeability, and rock,
fluid and thermal compressibility.

Figure 20Oil EUR as function of fracture spacing (ft.) and reservoir permeability (md)

Pressure drawdown in hydraulically fractured horizontal wells occurs near the vicinity of the induced
fracture and within the stimulated reservoir area though at different pressure gradient. Figure 21 shows the
pressure drawdown profile after 30 years of production for a transversely fractured horizontal well with 20
fractures in reservoir with permeability of 0.0001 md and drainage area of 640 acres. The figure highlights
the importance of hydraulic fracture density to horizontal wells in low permeability reservoirs, especially
for the realization of timely production and recovery. Secondly, to accurately quantify EUR and RF in
unconventional resources, the number of wells and drainage area per well need to be optimal. Figure 21
shows that one horizontal well with fracture half-length of 500 ft was not able to drain 640 acres drainage
area in low permeability reservoir (0.0001 md). Probably, a more optimal well spacing might have been
160 or 80 acres.

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SPE-181813-MS

Figure 21Pressure drop profile after 30 years in a transversely fractured horizontal well with 20
fractures modeled with CMG's GEM black oil reservoir simulator using Permian basin oil fluid properties

Results from Compositional Reservoir Simulation (3-phase: Oil, Gas and Water)
The compositional reservoir simulation models had reservoir fluid properties from Eagle-Ford oil that are
given by figures 4 and 5, and table 4. The reservoir models had representative geological model of EagleFord formation. The study used compositional reservoir simulator because the reservoir was saturated
(below bubble point pressure, Pb), and all the 3-phases (oil, gas and water) existed at in-situ reservoir
conditions as shown by table 4. In the study, the reservoir pressure was 4,000 psi at a reference depth of
8,000 ft. Secondly, the study investigated the effect of reservoir oil composition on the performance of
transversely fractured versus longitudinally fractured horizontal wells in tight sands and unconventional
reservoirs with stress dependent permeability.
Table 4Eagle-Ford Oil properties for composition modeling
Eagle-Ford Oil for Composition modeling
Reservoir Temperature

250

Bubble Pressure

4220

psi

Solution GOR

3636

SCF/STB

API Gravity

48

Depth

8300

ft

Initial Pressure

4000

psi

Initial Sw

0.25

Gas SG

0.7

OGR (Oil-Gas Ratio)

275

STB/MMscf

Figure 22 shows comparison of oil recovery versus reservoir permeability for transversely fractured
versus longitudinal fractured horizontal wells using Eagle-Ford oil fluid properties in a compositional
reservoir simulator. The results show three significant findings; first, less oil but more gas was recovered
(using the Eagle-Ford oil) compared to the black oil model type reservoir, which used Permian oil fluid

SPE-181813-MS

27

properties. In fact, only 3.0 MMbbls of oil were recovered in Eagle-Ford oil compositional modeling
compared to the 17 MMbbls of cumulative oil in the Permian Basin oil case. Secondly, longitudinally
fractured horizontal wells outperformed transversely fractured horizontal wells at moderate and high
permeability ranges, and that the reservoir fluid composition affected the critical permeability. Thirdly,
figure 22 displayed unique recovery phenomena that was not seen in previous studies. There was a mirrorimage reflection of all the curves at reservoir permeability of 0.05 md. Horizontal wells with more fractures
(40, 30, 20 etc.) had better recovery at lower permeability, less than 0.05 md, but had poor recovery at
permeability higher than 0.05 md. There are two theories that might explain the result of figure 22. First,
convergent non-Darcy flow in transversely fractured wells with high rate or in moderate to high permeability
reservoirs can reduce well productivity. This possibly explains why the transverse horizontal well with
40 fractures had the worst recovery. Secondly, the development of segregating gas caps, especially in gas
condensate reservoirs, where gas flows preferentially to oil was compounded by the presence of higher
number of induced transverse hydraulic fractures (40, 30, 20 etc.). Other factors such as higher vertical
permeability, and the difference in mobility ratio (Krgo/Krow) between the two phases flowing in the porous
media might explain this unique phenomenon in figure 22.

Figure 22Oil recovery vs reservoir permeability of transversely fractured and longitudinally


fractured horizontal wells. Notice the mirror-image reflection at reservoir permeability of 0.05 md

The economic analysis of the Eagle-Ford oil type simulation was done using cumulative oil and BOE
(barrel of equivalent). Figure 23 shows the result of discounted recovery (DR) versus reservoir permeability
for transversely fractured vs longitudinally fractured horizontal wells. The result is slightly different than

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SPE-181813-MS

that of figure 22, which used only oil EUR. At permeability above 1.8 md, both longitudinally fractured
horizontal wells (2L & 4L) outperformed transversely fractured horizontal wells. Additionally, there was
no mirror-image inversion of curves at 0.05 md as we saw in figure 22. However, because of the price
differences between oil and gas, the use of BOE might not be appropriate to use solely as an economic
analysis tool.

Figure 23Discounted recovery (barrel of oil equivalent (boe)) versus permeability


for transversely fractured and longitudinally fractured horizontal wells

Figure 24 summarizes the finding of previous results (figures 22 & 23), and shows the result of cumulative
oil recovery versus hydraulic fracture spacing in a range of reservoir permeabilities (from 0.00001 md to
10.0 md). Similar graphs were shown for the dry gas reservoir and black oil type reservoir models. However,
the result of figure 24 shows that for reservoir permeability greater than 1.0 md, placing more hydraulic
fractures in horizontal wells actually reduces oil recovery, especially in gas condensate reservoirs like the
Eagle-Ford Formation. Secondly, figure 24 can be used as a guide when designing stimulations for reservoirs
with light oils (volatile oil, condensate gas and wet gas reservoirs) that have similar reservoir fluid properties
to that of Eagle-Ford oil. The result of the compositional simulation (using Eagle-Ford oil) showed that
most of the cumulative oil was produced in the earlier years of the wells' life. However, the cumulative gas
production kept on increasing throughout the wells' life.

SPE-181813-MS

29

Figure 24Oil recovery as function of hydraulic fracture spacing and permeability

The determination of the critical permeability when longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform
transversely fractured horizontal wells in a condensate reservoirs similar to the Eagle-Ford Formation
was done using compositional reservoir simulator, and table 5 shows the results obtained. The result was
determined using two methods; oil recovery (EUR) and discounted recovery (DR). The DR was calculated
using equations 1 & 2, and in terms of barrel of oil equivalent (BOE). Secondly, figure 25 shows the result
of the critical permeability obtained from the two methods.
Table 5Critical Permeability from Eagle-Ford Oil

30

SPE-181813-MS

Figure 25The critical permeability when longitudinal horizontal wells outperform transversely
fracture horizontal well in a condensate reservoir (determined using Eagle-Ford Oil)

The results shown by table 5 and figure 25 indicate two unique findings. First, in condensate reservoirs,
placing more hydraulic fractures in transversely fractured horizontal wells after critical permeability, is
negatively correlated to both oil recovery (EUR) and discounted recovery (DR), which were 0.13 md
and 1.8 md respectively. Secondly, depending on the objective and "key performance indicators" of the
operator, whether it's maximizing liquids recovery (oil) or maximizing overall production (in terms of boe),
the critical permeability used in the decision criteria can differ. Thirdly, figure 24 shows that the critical
permeability behaves differently for gas condensate reservoirs (Eagle-Ford oil with API of 48) than that of
black oil type reservoirs (Permian basin oi with API of 38) or dry gas reservoirall used in this study. The
two regression equations were good fit for both methods used in the analysis. However, the oil EUR and
DR regression equations show power-law relationship, which means diminishing returns with increasing
number of hydraulic fractures.
Figure 26 shows the pressure drawdown for a horizontal well with 4 longitudinal fractures in 0.010 md
reservoir after 30 years of production. There is an elliptical pressure drawdown profile with decreasing
gradient. Secondly, at the drainage boundary there was little pressure drop. In fact, the bottom-hole pressure
in the fractures was 250 psi while at the boundary the pressure was equal to initial reservoir pressure of
4,000 psi.

SPE-181813-MS

31

Figure 26Pressure drawdown profile after 30 years for horizontal


well with 4 longitudinal fractures in a reservoir permeability of 0.01 md

The result also showed that at reservoir permeability higher than 0.13 md, the pressure drawdown
observed in the longitudinal horizontal wells was more pronounced, especially along the wellbore and
was more uniform. This allowed accelerated pressure depletion in adjacent layers as shown by figure 26,
and made longitudinally fractured horizontal wells better producers. There were no pockets of un-drained
areas within the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV). Secondly, for higher permeability reservoirs, the whole
drainage area was uniformly depleted.
Stress Dependent Permeability Modeling results
The effect of stress dependent permeability on well economics, productivity and reserves were investigated
for the three reservoir fluid types studied using two methods; porosity and permeability multipliers (m)
shown by equation 16, and total compressibility equation shown by equation 15. Table 6 and figure 26
show the results obtained from the study. The study investigated the effects of stress dependent permeability
(SDP) on induced fractures in dry gas reservoirs, black oil type reservoirs and condensate reservoirs. First,
stress dependent permeability had no effect on gas EUR in the dry gas reservoir. The SDP results from both
equations (using equations 15 and 16) showed no effect on dry gas reservoirs. Previous studies showed
that gas can flow in very small cracks, and (Britt and Schoeffler 2009) found that gas can flow through unpropped cracks at effective confining stress. Secondly, the fracture conductivity in this study was 50 mdft and the true vertical depth (TVD) of the wells modeled was 8,000 ft. Proppants such as (20/40) Ottawa
sands usually retain most its conductivity in low confining stress environment. Similarly, there was no stress
dependent permeability effect in the condensate reservoir, which used Eagle-Ford oil. Table below provides
the result of the stress dependent permeability effect on induced fractures in the three reservoir fluid types
studied.

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SPE-181813-MS

Table 6Effect of stress dependent permeability on EUR

The black oil simulations, which used Permian basin oil properties showed noticeable impact on oil
recovery from stress dependent permeability effect on induced fractures. Table 6 and figure 27 show the
results obtained. There was -1.20% decline in both oil recovery and discounted recovery (DR) when stress
dependent permeability was incorporated into the models versus without SDP. Two important findings
highlighted by result of figure 27 are that the effect of stress dependent permeability occurred later in the life
of the wells. Secondly, reservoir fluid type (gas, condensate or black oil), rock mechanics and reservoir depth
can influence the impact of stress dependent permeability on well recovery. The low viscosity reservoir
fluid types such as dry gas and gas condensate were not impacted by stress dependent permeability. In figure
27, the total compressibility method (Cf) used equation 15, while porosity and permeability multiplier (m)
(PPM) method used equation 16 to calculate stress dependent permeability effect.

Figure 27Effect of stress dependent permeability on oil recovery from


the black oil model simulation using Permian basin oil fluid properties

SPE-181813-MS

33

Conclusion
The following conclusion can be drawn from the study of Multiphase Flow Performance Comparison
of Multiple Fractured Transverse Horizontal Wells vs longitudinal Wells in Tight and Unconventional
Reservoirs with Stress Dependent Permeability. Table 7 gives summary of the critical permeability, which
we hope would be valuable to the petroleum industry.
Table 7Summary of critical permeability for different reservoir fluid types studied

1. The critical permeability at which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform transversely
fractured horizontal wells in a gas reservoir is 0.9 md for open-hole completion. At higher
permeability, transverse fractured horizontal wells experience non-Darcy flow, which can cause
choking effect due to convergent flow near the wellbore.
2. For oil reservoirs that have fluid properties similar to that of Permian basin oil (~API of 38), and can
be modeled with black oil reservoir simulators without significant errors, the critical permeability at
which longitudinally fractured horizontal wells outperform transversely fractured horizontal wells is
2.0 md
3. For volatile oil or gas condensate reservoirs (~API 48), the critical permeability varies and depends on
the objective target and analysis method used. If the objective is liquids recovery (oil), then the critical
permeability is 0.13 md. However, incorporating well economics and total fluid production (gas and
oil in terms of BOE), which the authors recommend, the critical permeability would be 1.8 md.
4. Critical permeability can be used as a guide for well planning and development, especially if
geomechanics and reservoir fluid properties are incorporated into the decision criteria.
5. Well recovery, productivity and EUR are function of permeability and hydraulic fracture spacing (or
number fractures) in horizontal wells
6. In low permeability reservoirs, less than 0.5 md for gas reservoirs and 1.0 md for black oiltype reservoirs, longitudinal fractures may not be the best option. However, there is a transition
permeability range, where both transversely fractured horizontal wells and longitudinally fractured
well perform equally.
7. Critical permeability also depends on reservoir fluid type (gas, gas condensate or black oil fluids),
and the lower the viscosity of the fluid (or mobility ratio), the lower the critical permeability at which
longitudinal horizontal wells outperform transversely fractured horizontal wells
8. Stress dependent permeability has no effect on induced hydraulic fracture conductivity in gas and
gas condensate reservoirs in low effective stress environment, but has small effect on black oil type

34

SPE-181813-MS

reservoirs. Hence, effect of stress dependent permeability depends on reservoir fluid type (properties),
rock mechanics and confining effective stress.

Acknowledgement

The authors wish to thank Missouri University of Science and Technology for its support, and the Computer
Modeling Group (CMG) for providing us the research license (unlimited grid-block/parallel computing
version) of the CMG reservoir simulation software.

Nomenclature

API
BIP
CBM
CMG
DPIR
DR
DROI
EUR
EoS
GIP
GOR
LI
LGR
NPV
OGR
PFP
PV
ROI
SCN
SRV
SDP
TOC
UFD
WC
A
b
Cf
E
K
Kap
Kf
Km
KO
m
n
Ni
p
P

American Petroleum Institute


Binary Interaction Parameters
Coalbed Methane
Computer Modeling Group
Discounted Profit-to-Investment Ratio
Discounted Recovery (bbls or Mscf)
Discounted Return On Investment
Estimated Ultimate Recovery
Equation of State
Gas In Place
Gas-Oil Ratio
Langmuir Isotherm
Local Grid Refinement
Net-Present Value
Oil-Gas Ratio
Preferred Fracture Plane
Present Value
Return On Investment
Single Carbon Number
Stimulated Reservoir Volume
Stress Dependent Permeability
Total Organic Carbon
Unified Fracture Design
Water Cut
attraction parameter
repulsion parameter
formation compressibility
Young's modulus
permeability
apparent permeability
fracture permeability
minimum permeability
sample permeability
dimensionless multipliers
number of years
Cumulative production (bbls or Mscf) in time, i
material constant
Pressure, psia

SPE-181813-MS

35

Pb
PC
Pe
Pi
PL
P0
PO
T
TC
Tr

V
VL
Wf
r
R
xf
Zc

h
H
V

ij

References

bubble point pressure


critical pressure
effective stress
initial reservoir pressure
Langmuir pressure
original pressure
the price of oil or gas
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reservoir temperature
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specific volume, ft, mole
Langmuir volume
fracture width
interest rate (%)
gas constant
fracture half-length
critical compressibility factor
material dependent
beta factor
minimum horizontal stress
maximum horizontal stress
vertical stress
porosity
original porosity
Poisson's ration
interaction coefficients
binary interaction coefficients
curve fitting parameter

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