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Unconventional Yearbook 2018

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76 | January 2018 | 2018 UNCONVENTIONAL YEARBOOK | COMPLETION OPTIMIZATION becoming less relevant and where we should focus our attention is well completions." Lateral lengths and spacing About two years ago, operators discovered the technologies and the economic benefi t of drilling extended laterals, and today some of the longest wells reach as far as 17,000 ft or more. Eclipse Resources stated in its fi rst-quarter 2017 earnings report that it completed a 19,300-ft lateral in the Utica Basin. Still, lateral lengths that extend 3 miles and more are the exception rather than the rule. Operators seem to have settled, at least for now, in the 7,000-ft range. According to BTU Analytics, the average lateral length in January 2013 was just more than 6,000 ft. By August 2017, that amount had increased to 7,000 ft. That doesn't mean oper- ators aren't targeting longer laterals where they fi nd the economic benefi t and risks are minimal. "We're trying wherever we can to drill 10,000-ft laterals," said Joel Fox, senior manager of drilling and completions for Encana. "We're being a bit cautious about going more than 10,000 ft. And the reason is, it's just the confi dence you have in getting a good completion or managing any trouble once you get beyond 10,000 ft. We'll probably get there as an indus- try, but today, we don't think the risk is justifi ed." Stephen Ingram, vice president, technology solutions and innovation, North American oper- ations at Halliburton, said the longest lateral in which Halliburton has been involved was a 4-mile fracturing operation in the Ohio Utica. But the biggest limitation to continued extended lateral lengths, he said, likely won't be technological abil- ity but regulatory constraints. "The primary barrier to extended laterals in all basins today is not the technology to do it nor the risk associated with longer laterals," he said. "The primary barrier is the actual acreage holding, or, depending on the state, the lease regulatory envi- ronment in which to put multiple sections together and drill an extra 5,000 ft of lateral. So today we feel the technical limits are longer than the longest wells drilled, and that the cost and risk is not a prohibiting factor. The primary factor prohibiting lateral lengths growing are lease acreage position and, in some states, the regulatory environment." Independent completions consultant John Kumolski said, however, there may in fact be mechanical limitations on how long laterals could eventually go. "If you're drilling a well and say you're going vertically 1 to 2 miles, and then you go horizontal, you have to be aware of what the limitations are on the rig," he said. "It may get to the point where you cannot put any more weight on the bit, and if you were drilling with a downhole motor, there may be a limitation on the pipe above it at the angles, and direction that you're running it might give you some limitations also." In addition to extended laterals playing a key role in completion optimization, so too do spac- ing and proppant loading amounts. Operators are putting more wells on a pad, increasing the number of fracture stages and substantially increasing the amount of proppant they pump down their wells— all strategies that play a role in optimizing IP. "The trend that we've seen over the last number of years is to closer wellbore spacing, and when you go to closer wellbore spacing you are really forced to understand the length of your hydraulic fracturing treatment," Ingram said. "So as we have observed closer wellbore spacing we have in parallel observed more perforation clusters per stage." The result of that strategy, Ingram said, has been a decreased length of the hydraulic fracture away from the wellbore. "What we are observing is denser hydraulic fracturing closer to each individual wellbore as a response to the cognizant decision to place well- bores closer together," he said. "So we are harvest- ing more hydrocarbons from each wellbore nearer the wellbore, which supports the ability to put wells closer together. You could not do this without the other. They are symbiotic." Encana has deployed its cube well completion development strategy, which it says maximizes value from a multizone stacked development scheme. Encana's "cube development," the company reported in a 2017 investor relations presentation, minimizes inter-wellbore communication and eliminates par- ent-child in-fi ll drilling. According to the presen- tation, the evolution of the company's completion design has evolved from four wells per section in

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