Stretched Exponential Decline Model as a Probabilistic and Deterministic Tool for Production Forecasting and Reserve Estimation in Oil and Gas Shales



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Today everyone seems to agree that ultra-low permeability and shale reservoirs have become the potentials to transform North America's oil and gas industry to a new phase.

Unfortunately, transient flow is of long duration (perhaps life of the well) in ultra-low permeability reservoirs, and traditional decline curve analysis (DCA) models can lead to significantly over-optimistic production forecasts without additional safeguards.

Stretched Exponential decline model (SEDM) gives considerably more stabilized production forecast than traditional DCA models and in this work it is shown that it produces unchanging EUR forecasts after only two-three years of production data are available in selected reservoirs, notably the Barnett Shale.

For an individual well, the SEDM model parameters, can be determined by the method of least squares in various ways, but the inherent nonlinear character of the least squares problem cannot be bypassed. To assure a unique solution to the parameter estimation problem, this work suggests a physics-based regularization approach, based on critical velocity concept. Applied to selected Barnett Shale gas wells, the suggested method leads to reliable and consistent EURs.

To further understand the interaction of the different fracture properties on reservoir response and production decline curve behavior, a series of Discrete Fracture Network (DFN) simulations were performed. Results show that at least a 3-layer model is required to reproduce the decline behavior as captured in the published SEDM parameters for Barnett Shale. Further, DFN modeling implies a large number of parameters like fracture density and fracture length are in such a way that their effect can be compensated by the other one. The results of DFN modeling of several Barnett Shale horizontal wells, with numerous fracture stages, showed a very good agreement with the estimated SEDM model for the same wells.

Estimation of P90 reserves that meet SEC criteria is required by law for all companies that raise capital in the United States. Estimation of P50 and P10 reserves that meet SPE/WPC/AAPG/SPEE Petroleum Resources Management System (PRMS) criteria is important for internal resource inventories for most companies. In this work a systematic methodology was developed to quantify the range of uncertainty in production forecast using SEDM. This methodology can be used as a probabilistic tool to quantify P90, P50, and P10 reserves and hence might provide one possible way to satisfy the various legal and technical-society-suggested criteria.