Hydraulically Fractured Formations: Parameters Controlling Performance and Maximum Number of Fractures


Horizontal wells essentially increase the area of contact between wellbores and reservoir fluids to some extent. Hydraulic fractures increase this area significantly and develop the vertical permeability. Because of these two techniques, well deliverability or productivity index can be increased to the limit required by the worldwide needs. Several models have been derived for the productivity index of fractured formations and the maximum number of fractures for both finite and infinite reservoirs. The models were developed based on the idea that the total pressure drop in the wellbore can be estimated as the sum of different pressure drops caused by different flow regimes. This pressure drop is necessary for the fluid to flow from the reservoir toward the wellbore. It is well known that the developed flow regimes in the area around the horizontal wells or the hydraulic fractures are not the same as the flow regimes at far distance from wellbores, which is close to the outer boundaries. Therefore, four flow regimes were expected to develop in infinite acting reservoir: pseudo radial flow at the outer boundaries, elliptical flow in the area between wellbores and the regions close to the outer boundaries, formation linear flow in the area between fractures toward wellbores and fractures, and finally fractures linear flow, while pseudo-steady state flow was the expected flow regime for the case of limited reservoirs. Each one of these flow regimes contributes to the total pressure drop necessary for producing certain flow rate in addition to the pressure drop caused by the damage zones resulted from horizontal well drilling and completion, hydraulic fracturing process, and fluid flow chocking effect. In this study, the effects of the anisotropy, fracture dimensions, radius of drainage area, number of fractures and fracture conductivity on productivity index had been investigated. A novel approach for the maximum number of fractures necessary for a specific productivity index was introduced in this paper. The model had been examined for two field cases taken from literatures. The calculated flow rates by this model showed good agreement with the measured flow rates.