As indicated in our previous posts, oil and gas operators typically want answers to three primary questions as they complete their wells:

1. How do I increase production/EUR from each well (e.g. better drilling and completion design)?

2. How do I cut completion costs? (e.g. diminishing marginal returns from number of stages or volume of proppants)?

3. How do I improve the economics of the entire field (e.g. through optimum well spacing)?

To answer any of these questions, it is important to be able to delineate geology/rock quality that responds differently to completions and therefore understand which design is appropriate.

One critical challenge is how to log as many wells as possible when the cost of doing so is prohibitively high. Currently only a handful of wells (among many drilled wells) are logged to learn about a new formation or area. As always, ever-resourceful third-parties are stepping up to help operators increase the scale of what’s possible when it comes to characterizing their rocks.

THE BIG PROMISE

There is a new cast of emerging technologies at the verge of commercialization and all promise an order of magnitude cost reduction in characterizing the rocks. At $10k-$30k/well, many more wells can be “logged” to inform the best completion design, a very attractive promise in the current price environment.

We have seen two groups of inventors in this space:

1) New Algorithms: Innovators who take existing data such as surface drilling data (e.g. WOB, ROP or differential pressure) or MWD/LWD data to interpret rock quality. These emerging vendors provide a “synthetic log” to characterize the mechanical specific energy, rock toughness or brittleness along the wellbore.

2) New Measurements: Innovators who have found ways to collect new data such as behind the bit sensing, distributed acoustic sensing, DNA fingerprinting, etc. These vendors are using these data to examine the rock in terms of their strength, natural fractures, fluid-flow characteristics and TOC content.

Which approach will win? Are both needed?

While not completely mature, these technologies will play the role of “another helpful dataset” for operators in the design of their wells. Since none of these solutions provide a full picture of the reservoir yet, many operators have opted to continue to experiment with a number of these technologies rather than rely on one of these technologies alone. A lack of accurate measurements post completion jobs also contributes to this skepticism. However, as innovators and their clients continue to work closely towards improving these solutions, rapid advances are expected to come.

Darcy Partners has been selected to review these characterization technologies in our Completion Optimization joint industry study and will present the result of our scouting and validation work at our Nov 30th forum.

For more information please call +1 713 992 6486.