Hydraulic fracturing is vital in unconventional shale gas development in order to produce economically from the reservoir. An optimum hydraulic fracturing design and operation can be the key difference between good and poor producing well and economics of the well. One of the most common hydraulic fracturing designs is ball drop system. Using ABAQUS software with XFEM method, a three layers model is used to represent overburden formation, shale gas formation and underburden formation. Rock properties, pore pressure and stress data are used as inputs for the generated model. A horizontal well is created in the middle shale gas formation with three fracture stages and 100m perforation spacing between them. Each hydraulic fracture stage is pressurized sequentially based on the treatment plan of ball drop sliding sleeve completion. The simulated hydraulic fractures are evaluated and compared with the measured field data. The comparison of the average wellbore pressure is good as they all showed within 10% of the measured data. The comparison of the hydraulic fracture geometry with the micro-seismicity data is reasonable overall in view of the data evaluation showing considerable uncertainties in the data. The hydraulic fracturing results also show that at 100m perforation spacing and using sequential hydraulic fracturing method (such as ball drop system), the effect of stress shadow is minimal and does not inhibit the fractures growth. However, the stress shadow effect is found to be pronounced for closer spacing between hydraulic fractures. For future application of the developed XFEM hydraulic fracturing model, it can be utilized to design new hydraulic fracturing completion in order to recommend the optimum completion, including perforation spacing, of development wells in unconventional shale gas field.

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