Simulating refracturing treatments that employ diverting agents on horizontal wells
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The use of hydraulic fracturing has increased rapidly and is now a necessary technique for the development of shale oil and gas resources. However, production rates from these plays typically exhibit high levels of decline. After one year, rates often decrease by over fifty percent. Refracturing – the process of hydraulically fracturing a well that has previously been fractured – is a proposed technique designed to offset these high decline rates and provide a sustainable increase in production. Benefits from refracturing can occur due to a variety of reasons, including the extension of fracture length, the increase in fracture conductivity or the reorientation of the fracture into new areas of the reservoir. In this thesis, the simulation of refracturing treatments on horizontal wells with the use of a diverting agent is described. Diverting agents are used to distribute flow more evenly along the wellbore and to replace the use of costly downhole equipment employed to isolate sections of the wellbore. When diverting agent is deposited, a cake forms with an associated permeability. Flow is diverted from the fractures with high amounts of diverting agent because the larger cake results in a greater resistance to flow. The diverting agent cake breaks down with time at reservoir temperature so that production is uninhibited. Two different models are used to account for the application of diverting agent. One assumes the diverting agent cake forms in the perforation tunnel and the other assumes it forms in the fracture. The propagation of competing fractures is calculated using a computer code developed at the University of Texas called UTWID. In both models, the simulations showed successful diversion of flow. Previously understimulated fractures – that is, shorter fractures or fractures that would grow less preferentially under normal fracturing treatments – grew at a faster pace after pumping of the diverting agent. A sensitivity analysis was conducted on several of the key refracturing design parameters, and the interdependence of the parameters was demonstrated. The simulations support the concept that diverting agents can be used to more evenly stimulate the entire length of the lateral.