Shale Alliance Forges Ahead in the Name of Science

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Strategic alliance between Baker Hughes and CGG has spurred growing recognition in the industry that more can be done to understand the heterogeneous nature of shale resource plays.

Shale Science

Shale plays are not homogenous, so drilling and completion programs need to be optimized to maximize production and reduce the cost and risk to produce. CGG and Baker Hughes’ integrated geoscience workflow puts the information required in the hands of
operators to meet this goal.
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By combining the reservoir description expertise of Baker Hughes and the leading geoscience capabilities of CGG, this partnership has a unique perspective on shale resource challenges.

The Alliance has been strengthened by the realignment of the firms’ VSFusion joint venture, now called Magnitude, which focuses on borehole and surface microseismic monitoring and reinforces the capabilities of the partnership for completion design and hydraulic fracturing.

Most recently, the Shale Alliance announced another significant milestone - an exclusive agreement with Baker Hughes to utilize CGG’s RoqSCAN™, a portable automated quantitative mineralogy analysis system.  RoqSCAN delivers real-time analysis of drill cuttings at the well site to aid drilling and completion decisions.

The aim of the Shale Alliance is to form a bridge between measurements of rock properties at the well and field-wide seismic observations to improve reservoir knowledge and reduce subsurface uncertainty. Special emphasis is placed on how to integrate and leverage a broad range of geoscience data to improve decision-making at key stages in the shale development workflow:

  • Identification of production sweet spots
  • Optimization of well placement and drilling programs
  • Improving completion design and frac performance

Advances in onshore seismic technology over the last five years have seen the rapid adoption of wide-and full-azimuth geometries and cable-free recording systems, such as the Sercel UNITE, to improve coverage and productivity in mixed terrain. Accompanying this, CGG subsurface imaging technology has also seen important advances to improve the quality of images and pre-stack gathers, with particular attention paid to preserving azimuthal anisotropy for stress and fracture characterization.

Wells provide an opportunity to collect “hard data” which can be used to calibrate and constrain the predictive models generated from seismic attributes. This hard data comes in the form of core and cuttings samples as well as petrophysical and geomechanical information from an increasingly sophisticated suite of logging tools, such as Baker Hughes’ StarTrak™ Logging-While-Drilling service. However, wells with the right data may be a scarce resource. In fact, industry figures point to less than 10% of the 15,000 horizontal wells drilled annually in the US being logged.

Real-time microseismic data allows completions engineers to analyze the effectiveness of stimulation parameters, such as pumping pressures, fluid type and proppant type, as the fracturing unfolds, thus allowing critical decisions to be made on the hydraulic stimulation program.

RoqSCAN offers a way to fill this gap by providing near real-time well-site results, or retrospective analysis for wells already drilled courtesy of drill cuttings samples. These humble fragments allow the direct measurement of the textural and mineralogical properties of the reservoir and provide the geological ground truth. Applications at the well site range from geosteering to reservoir characterization of the lateral to optimize completion design.

In the wider context, introducing this data into the reservoir characterization workflow means that field-wide predictive models of key reservoir attributes and completion factors such as lithofacies, Total Organic Carbon (TOC), fracture density and brittleness can be better constrained. Armed with this information, well placement can be improved and drilling programs optimized to focus on the core acreage of the play.

With the cost of completions now equaling the cost of drilling, effective completion design is a vital consideration for cost-effective shale wells. In the same way that wells can be placed and steered to target predicted production sweet spots, completions and fracs can be targeted on the most prospective zones of the lateral. By avoiding zones of poor-quality reservoir and those either too ductile or with a differential stress ratio that is too high to support a large hydraulic fracture network, operators can reduce the number of frac stages not effectively contributing to production and ensure that “every frac counts”.

To close the loop, Magnitude offers microseismic services to monitor frac performance and gather further data to improve subsurface models. With real-time on-site services using either surface patch arrays, permanent shallow buried arrays or downhole wireline arrays, Magnitude provides reliable mapping of hydraulic fractures and valuable stress regime information from moment tensor analysis. Real-time microseismic data allows completions engineers to analyze the effectiveness of stimulation parameters, such as pumping pressures, fluid type and proppant type, as the fracturing unfolds, thus allowing critical decisions to be made on the hydraulic stimulation program.

As the debate on shale play development continues in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, there is growing recognition in North America that more can be done to understand the heterogeneous nature of shale plays. CGG and Baker Hughes have demonstrated how new technologies are being integrated into a multi-disciplinary geoscience workflow to address this need. This will enable optimized production while reducing the cost, risk and environmental footprint of operations and the supply-chain.

Visit CGG (booth 1220) and Baker Hughes (booth 1110) to learn more, with daily booth theater presentations on shale reservoir characterization, integrated workflows for sweet spot mapping and completion optimization, and demonstrations of the latest geoscience software.

News Source : Shale Alliance Forges Ahead in the Name of Science
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