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WELL TEST ANALYSIS OF HYDRAULICALLY FRACTURED GAS WELLS

FOR NON-DARCY FLOW EFFECTS


Abdul Malik Kakar1, Shiyi Zheng2 and George Stewart3
1Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL), Heriot-Watt University, m_kakar@ppl.com.pk
2Heriot-Watt University, shiyi.zheng@pet.hw.ac.uk
3Heriot-Watt University, EPS, george.stewart@pet.hw.ac.uk

ABSTRACT When a gas well is hydraulically fractured, flow pattern


in the formation is no longer radial and propped fracture
Vast reserves of natural gas exist trapped in low will dominate the flow system. Therefore, conventional
permeability formations throughout the world. Due to inflow performance relationship (IPR) models based on
the low viscosity of gas, reserves under certain conditions radial flow assumption are not applicable. At longer
can be recovered from these low permeability formations times the Pseudo-radial flow is reached in every fractured
where the economic recovery of conventional liquid system irrespective of fracture conductivities.
hydrocarbons would not be possible. In order to allow
economic production from gas wells in low permeability The equations developed for radial homogeneous system
reservoirs, hydraulic fracturing is often necessary to become equally applicable for analysing this flow period.
increase gas recovery. However, Pseudo-radial flow period data can not be
used for estimating fracture parameters, and a negative
The presence of non-Darcy flow significantly reduces skin factor has been used to reflect the stimulation effect.
the effective conductivity of the propped fracture, and
hence adversely affects productivity of a hydraulically As the permeability in the propped fracture is much
fractured gas well. This paper presents study, which is higher than formation matrix permeability, much of the
aimed at analysis of well test conducted on hydraulically gas will first flow into the fracture, and then along the
fractured gas well. A simulation study was conducted fracture, before reaching the wellbore. The non-Darcy
to generate pressure-transient response for a hydraulically effects associated with inertia and high flow velocities
fractured gas well for the purpose of well test in the fracture significantly influence the well
interpretation. The non-Darcy flow effects have been performance. Other factors that are likely to affect the
investigated as a function of fracture geometry. The well productivity may include formation damage, water
resulting variation in transient pressure response blocking and alteration of capillary pressure due to
eventually leads to changes in the well production fracturing fluid invasion.
capacity. The paper also includes the investigation of
optimum fracture geometry for which non-Darcy flow This paper presents study, which is aimed at analysis
effects are negligible thereby optimizing well of both pressure-transient, and deliverability testing
performance. data, for hydraulically fractured gas wells in the presence
of non-Darcy flow. A simulation study was conducted
INTRODUCTION to generate pressure-transient response for a hydraulically
fractured gas well for the purpose of well test
Hydraulic fracturing is an effective technique for interpretation. The non-Darcy flow effects have been
increasing the productivity of gas wells producing from investigated as a function of fracture geometry. The well
low permeability formations. For a fractured well, is assumed vertical and producing at a constant flow
fracture length, fracture conductivity and formation rate. Permeability, skin, non-Darcy flow co-efficient
permeability are the parameters that govern productivity and absolute open-flow-potential, are determined from
of the well. Post-fractured well test analysis significantly well test analysis. An optimum case has also been
aids evaluating fracture treatment design and forecasting investigated for which non-Darcy flow effects are
the well performance. negligible.

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FRACTURED WELL PRODUCTIVITY

The inflow performance of a hydraulically fractured


well is controlled by dimensionless fracture conductivity, Where u is the superficial velocity, k is the
Fcd. [13]. permeability, dp is the pressure drop, and x is the
dimension at x-direction.

Darcys law provides basis for describing fluid


flow in porous media, but cannot describe fluid
flow accurately when the flow rate is high. For
Where gases, flow rate is always very high especially in
kf *wf = Fracture conductivity (i.e. ability of fracture to the restricted areas such as near the wellbore and
conduct fluid to the wellbore). in fractures. Forchhimer (1901) proposed a classical
k *xf = Ability of formation to deliver fluid into hydraulic equation for counteracting the deficiency
fracture. encountered with Darcys law, by adding a non-
Darcy term into Darcys flow equation. He found
For values of Fcd equal or greater than 300, the fracture that the pressure gradient required to maintain a
will be called infinite-conductive. [2] certain flow rate through porous media was higher
than predicted by Darcys law. [1]
Flow Patterns in Hydraulically Fractured Wells

Five distinct flow patterns occur in the fracture and


formation around a hydraulically fractured well. They
are named as fracture-linear, bi-linear, formation linear,
elliptical, and pseudoradial flow. [11]
Where the fluid density, and is the non-Darcy flow
Fracture-linear flow is short-lived and is normally coefficient. Different authors have referred to in a
dominated by wellbore storage effects. During this number of different ways including: turbulence factor
period, most of the fluid entering the wellbore comes by Cornell and Katz, and Tek et. al., coefficient of inertial
from fluid expansion in the fracture, and flow pattern resistance by Greerstma, and Al-Rumhy et. al., the
is essentially linear. Bilinear flow evolves in finite- velocity coefficient by Firoozabadi, the non-Darcy
conductive fracture, and is mostly the first flow regime coefficient by Civan and Evans, Liu et. al. The non-
that can be observed after the wellbore storage effects Darcy flow coefficient is usually determined by analysis
are dissipated. This period is featured by linear flows of multi-rate pressure test, and from correlations in cases
in both the fracture and formation and that the fracture where well test data is not available. [1].
tips do not affect the pressure behaviour of the well.
Most of the fluid in this period comes from the formation, Cornell and Katz attributed the non-Darcy effect, in
and pwf is a linear function of t1/4. The duration of bi- other words the non-linearity between pressure gradient
linear flow depends on Fcd. and velocity, to turbulence. However many researchers
such as Bear, Scheidgger, Barek, Ruth and Ma, Whitaker
Formation linear flow occurs in only infinite-conductive have agreed that the non-linearity is not due to turbulence
fractures. Elliptical flow, a transitional flow, occurs only but to inertial effects. Bear gave the following three
in between a linear and nearly linear flow patterns at reasons to exclude turbulence as cause for the non-
early times and a radial or nearly radial flow at later Darcy effect [1].
times. Pseudoradial flow occurs in fractures irrespective
of fracture conductivities. After sufficiently long flow 1. In turbulent flow through pipes, the linear term of
period, the fracture appears to the reservoir as an extended Eq-3 does not exist.
wellbore. All the equations developed for radial
homogeneous system are equally applicable for 2. In flow through pipes, the transition from laminar
interpreting data of this flow period. The larger the time to turbulent flow is not gradual but rather steep.
is, the later the development of essentially radial flow.
[11] 3. The critical Reynolds number Re at which transition
starts is several orders of magnitude higher than that
Non-Darcy Flow at which non-Darcy effect begins.
Laminar flow of fluid through a porous media can be
described using Darcys law.

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Non-Darcy Flow in Propped Fractures for generating pressure-transient behaviour of
hydraulically fractured gas well. Black-oil simulation
Analysis of the effects of non-Darcy flow in high rate model could be an option, however as the main objectives
oil and gas wells shows that, fracture conductivities are were to investigate non-Darcy flow effects, and this is
dominated by non-Darcy flow effects and that effective only possible with compositional model.
conductivities are non-linearly dependent on proppant
coverage. [5]. Dual porosity models are conventionally used to describe
fractured gas reservoirs. In this model, the flow from
Significant non-Darcy flow can exist in a fracture at the matrix to fracture is assumed to be in semi-steady
any time in the life of a vertically fractured well. On state. It has been demonstrated that such models do not
the average, about 10% of the total fracture pressure predict the matrix-fracture flow accurately. This is
drop can be attributed to non-Darcy flow effects [2, 6]. particularly true when the matrix permeability is very
If substantial non-Darcy flow is occurring in the fracture, low. This necessitates taking full transient flow behaviour
the calculation of fracture length using conventional within the matrix quantinuum. It may be noted that
techniques will result in values that are far too small. transient time in a very low permeability gas reservoirs
[7] may range from a few days to several months. [10]

The transient pressure response of finite-conductivity Reservoir Model


fractures with non-Darcy flow are governed by the
dimensionless fracture conductivity, F c d and In first the system investigated in this study, we have
dimensionless flow rate, [2, 6] considered a single, fully penetrated, vertical well in
the centre of a horizontal, closed and square reservoir
of uniform thickness, h. The well is intercepted by a
fully penetrating hydraulic fracture. The fracture has a
height of h, half-length of xf, width of wf and permeability
of kf. The reservoir properties are assumed uniform and
homogeneous. The fluid considered for this study is dry
gas (methane) with a specific gravity of 0.553. Table 1
lists the basic reservoir properties. The most widely
When analysing post-fracture well test, the overall used Peng-Robison equation of state (EOS) was used
effective fracture conductivity taking into account the to obtain fluid properties such as viscosity, FVF and
flow distribution along the fracture is given by: compressibility.

Fracture Model

A symmetric two-wing, fully penetrated vertical fracture,


with half-length, xf of 100 ft and width, wf of 0.5 inch,
The coefficient C depends on the flow condition in fracture, is modelled. Non-Darcy flow factors for proppants used
and value ranges from 0.3 to 0.6. [5] in the simulation model are taken from StimLab report.
The proppant type selected for the range of permabilities
In high rate, hydraulically fractured gas wells, non- and temperature is resin-coated sand, having porosity
Darcy flow effects may reduce effective fracture of 39.1%.
conductivity by a factor of 10 [5]. The non-Darcy flow
can reduce the effective conductivity near the wellbore Coefficient of inertia has units of [L-1], but some of
by a factor of 20 or more. [7] laboratories use unit of [atm-s2/g, also called Forchhimer
unit, F]. The values provided for non-Darcy flow factor
The effect of non-Darcy flow is more significant when by StimLab are in the later units, and the same unit is
describing gas flow in propped fractures. As a result of required for Eclipse. Values of for different proppant
neglecting the effects of non-Darcy flow in fracture, permabilities are tabulated in Table 3.
conflicts arise between well testing estimates and design
values of fracture conductivity and fracture half-length, Modelling Grids
which continue cause uncertainty and debate.
SIMULATION A low permeability gas reservoir (square- 2,000 x 2,000
ft) with a hydraulically fractured gas well in the centre
Overview is modelled using 2D Cartesian grids coordinates (3,
A numerical simulator (Eclipse-300, Schlumberger 249 grid cells), (57 blocks each in x and y direction).
Geoquest, compositional simulation software) is used The size of grids cells is small near the well (1 ft) and

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fracture tips (10 ft) in x-direction, and close to the pressure, pi. Whereas the radial flow regime for final
fracture face (1 ft) in y-direction. Larger size of grids build-up was analysed on semilog plot, Horner plot, to
cells 100 ft in the matrix) is assigned to the blocks away determine average reservoir pressure, p*, reservoir
from the fracture. Base models grids are shown in Figs. permeability, k, and total skin, S.
3. and 4.
Flow-after-Flow Transient Analysis
Pressure Transient Response for Base Model
This analysis is aimed at determining the Darcy and non-
Pressure-Transient response generated from base model Darcy skin factors, S and D respectively. In order to carry
is shown in Fig. 5. This shows more pressure draw down out this analysis, it is necessary to have multi-rate test.
with non-Darcy flow. Procedure of analysis is as follows:

Sensitivities Studies 1. After selecting each of the four drawdowns on


semilog plot, Horner plot, the permeability value
In order to investigate effects of non-Darcy flow on obtained in the first test period was adjusted with
performance of a fractured gas well, a sensitivity study the one estimated from the final build-up estimated
of different factors was performed. Different fracture previously.
factors such as fracture half-length (xf), fracture width 2. Parallel lines were placed at the same permeability,
(wf) and proppant permabilities (kf) are analysed. Table with one on each test period. In order to do rate
5 presents different cases that have been studied. Pressure- dependent skin analysis the non-Darcy skin analysis
Transient response generated from simulation of all the option was utilized, and total skin associated with
cases for sensitivity analysis are shown in Fig. 7. each test period was determined.
3. On skin vs. flow rate plot (S~Q) a line was fitted
WELL TEST ANALYSIS by selecting skin calculations; Darcy skin, S, rate
dependent skin, D and non-Darcy flow coefficient,
The pressure-transient behaviour to be analysed (using F, are determined. After confirming the results,
Pansystem, EPS) was generated from compositional the previously obtained, S on Horner plot is over-
simulator as discussed in previous section. The schedule written. The skin, S determined from this plot is
of a multi-rate drawdown and build-up, in which the rates appropriate since the skin from Horner plot was a
are kept constant in all the cases, is given in Table 4. total skin, which includes both Darcy and non-
Darcy skin.
Fluid Parameters

The fluid properties were calculated using the most


widely used Peng-Robinson EOS as shown in Table 2.

Model Validation

As a first step of interpretation the base model was analysed


for validation. The default model selected, as the base
model was a vertical fracture-finite conductivity-closed
system. The test was analysed as dry gas, vertical well,
and the analysis are shown in Fig. 6.
Fig-1: Graphical representation of determining S and
Analysis for Non-Darcy Flow D form Mutirate test. [15]

In order to analyse the non-Darcy flow effects, the


default model was selected as radial homogeneous- 4. After confirming values of S, D and F in step-3,
infinite acting. In Pansystem, it is only possible to carry from transient deliverability analysis, IPR curve is
out non-Darcy flow analysis, when the model is radial plotted.
homogenous. The procedure of the analysis is divided
into build-up and multi-rate drawdown: Well Test analysis is shown in Fig. 8.

Build-Up Analysis

The radial flow regime for initial build-up, was analysed


on semilog plot, Horner plot, to estimate initial reservoir

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SUMMARY OF RESULTS CONCLUSIONS
1. The productivity of a hydraulically fractured gas
Results
well is determined by fracture length, fracture
conductivity and post-fractured permeability.
The base case was modelled with two scenarios, one
2. Non-Darcy flow in the fracture significantly affects
neglecting non-Darcy flow effects and other including
the productivity of a fractured gas well. Hydraulic
this effect. All the sensitivities of fracture geometries
fracturing treatment should create a wide and high-
were analysed for non-Darcy flow effects, while the
conductivity fracture to reduce this effect. Short
optimum case was also analysed for both scenarios.
and wide fractures (such as TSO fracturing),
Results of well tests analysis and interpretation for all
significantly reduces the non-Darcy flow effects.
the cases including base case, sensitivities and optimum
3. Propped hydraulic fracture with fracture width of
case are plotted in Figs. 9 to 11.
1 or greater, yields results which show non-Darcy
flow effects negligibly small.
Discussion
FUTURE WORK
It is clear from the comparison plots that both the
negative skin and AOF are increasing, with the increase
Some highlighted important work that may be done in
of fracture width, fracture half-length and fracture
future to continue this study is:
permeability.
1. Utilizing improved simulation skills to simulate
As observed from the results of well test analysis and
hydraulic fracture accurately, particularly looking
interpretation, the fracture width and permeability
for the fracture tip effects. Although an attempt was
significantly affect performance of the well and hence
made to study the tip effects by defining tip as
supporting the concept of tip screenout (TSO) fracturing,
impermeable block, no effects were seen in the
i.e. the wider, shorter fracture provides much better
results.
productivity than long, narrow one.
2. As the effects of non-Darcy flow are considered
more adverse for multiphase flow, this work may
As this study aimed at the analysing and investigating
be extended to hydraulically fractured Gas-
for non-Darcy flow effects, the optimum case in which
Condensate wells.
fracture width is 1 inch, gives negligible non-Darcy
flow effects. This is clear from pressure-transient response
REFERENCES
as shown in Fig. 9 and well test results. Therefore, a
fracture width of 1 inch or greater minimizes the non-
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Darcy flow effects to negligibly small thereby improves
the Non-Darcy Coefficient, Dacun Li, SPE, and Thomas
performance of a hydraulically fractured gas well.
W. Engler, SPE, New Mexico Institute of Mining and
Technology.
[2] SPE 71573, Fractured-Well-Test Design and
Analysis in the Presence of Non-Darcy Flow, A. Gil,
SPE, and E. Ozkan, SPE, Colorado School of Mines,
and R. Raghavan, SPE, Phillips Petroleum Co.
[3] SPE 63176, Effect of Non-Darcy Flow on the
Interpretation of Transient Pressure Responses of
Hydraulically Fractured Wells, S. Umnuayponwiwat,
SPE, and E. Ozkan, SPE, Colorado School of Mines,
and C.M. Pearson, SPE, and M. Vincent, SPE, Carbo
Ceramics Inc.
[4] SPE 26150, Physical Explanations of Non-Darcy
Flow Effects for Fluid Flow in Porous media, Hulping
Ma, SPE, and D.W.Ruth, DPE. U. of Manitoba.
[5] SPE 20709, The Effects of Non-Darcy Flow in
Propped Hydraulic Fractures, J.P. Martins, PE,
BP Exploration; D. Milton-Tayler, BP Research; and
H.K. Leung, SPE, BP Exploration

Fig. 2. Tip Screen Out and Conventional Fracturing Compared [13] [6] SPE 11101, Non-Darcy Compressible Flow of Real
Gases in Propped Fracture, Ubani, phraim A.Evans,

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Ronald D.U. of Oklahoma.
[7] SPE 5586, The Effects of Non-Darcy Flow on the
Behavior of Hydraulically Fractured Gas Wells (includes
associated paper 6417), Holditch, S.A.Texas A and M
U.Morse, R.A.Texas A and M U.
[8] SPE 25465, Production Performance of
Hydraulically Fractured Gas Wells , Liao, Yizhu, Lee,
W.J., Texas A and M U.
[9] SPE 77901, An Analytical Model for Production
Estimation from Hydraulically Fractured Tight-Gas
Reservoirs, M.M. Rahman*, M.K. Rahman, and S.S.
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[10] SPE 39060, Simulation of Fractured Gas
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[11] Gas Reservoir Engineering John Lee, Robert A.
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[13] Production Technology-2, Dr. David R. Davis.
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Ronald Oligney and Peter Valko.

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Table. 4. Test Schedule.

Table 1. Reservoir Properties.

Table. 3. Proppant Permeabilities.

Table. 2. Fluid Properties.

Table. 5. Different fracture geometries used for sensitivity analysis study.

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Fig. 3. Base Case Model.

Fig. 4. Slicing of Grid showing Hydraulic Fracture.

Fig. 5. Pressure-transient Response for Base Case (with and without non-Darcy Flow effect).

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Fig. 6. Well Test Analysis for Model Validation.

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Fig. 6 (Contd.). Well Test Analysis for Model Validation.

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Fig. 7. Pressure-transient Plots for Sensitivities Studied.

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Fig. 8. Well Test Analysis for Non-Darcy Flow Effects.

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Fig. 8 (Contd.). Well Test Analysis for Non-Darcy Flow Effects.

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Fig. 9. Variation of negative skin with sensitivities.

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Fig. 10. Variation of non-Darcy flow factor with sensitivities.

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Fig. 11. Variation of AOF factor with sensitivities.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Abdul Malik Kakar

Abdul Malik Kakar holds a


Masters degree in Petroleum
Engineering from Heriot-Watt
University, Edinburgh-UK and
Bachelors degree in Petroleum
Engineering from the University
of Engineering and Technology
(UET), Lahore-Pakistan. He is
currently working as a Petroleum Engineer with
Technical Services Department of Pakistan Petroleum
Limited (PPL). Kakar joined PPL in January 1998 and
has to his credit over six (06) years of experience in
Production Technology, Production Operations and Well
Testing. He is a member of Pakistan Engineering Council
(PEC) and Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE), and
also a member of the SPEs program committee in
Karachi.

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