NAPE: Drastic improvements needed in shale gas

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Aug. 26
-- Efficiency improvements of at least an order of magnitude are needed in US shale gas plays because field costs will not stay at the levels to which they have dropped since late 2008, said a speaker Aug. 26 at the Summer NAPE E&P Forum in Houston.

Now that the industry has mastered combination of horizontal drilling and multiple frac stages, the rate of technology growth seems to be slowing, said William Coates, president, Schlumberger Oilfield Services, North America. Taking more measurements in each well may be the key.

Drilling and completion capital costs are not going to stay low, and field service costs may begin to increase within a few months, said Coates.

The proliferation of frac jobs to as many as several dozen per well is inefficient, and most operators don’t take enough measurements in the vertical or horizontal portions of shale gas wells once they have completed their initial reservoir characterization drilling, he said. The move from science mode to gas manufacturing is too abrupt.

Companies should set a goal of obtaining the same ultimate recovery by “doing less,” Coates urged. They must find ways to cut the drilling time of a typical shale well to 7 days from 28, for example, by attaining the capability for a single bit run for the vertical part of the hole and one bit run for the curve and lateral.

Landing the lateral at the depth of the sweet spot at any given well location could result in twice to three times the ultimate recovery if an operator spent an extra $100,000 on measurements, Coates estimated.

Other steps toward efficiency could come in the use of friction reducers and biocides to halve the amount of water required for fracs, laying fiber optic cable outside casing to measure vibration to learn which frac stages are producing, and learning how to conduct fewer inefficient fracs by using log-while-drilling measurements to select perforated intervals.

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