In 2017, distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) technology was deployed in a horizontal well to conduct a time-lapse vertical seismic profiling (VSP) survey before and after each of 78 hydraulic fracturing stages. The goal of the survey was to more continuously monitor the evolution of stimulated rock throughout the treatment of the well. From two vibroseis source locations at the surface, time shifts of P-waves were observed along the well that decayed almost completely by the end of the treatment. A shadowing effect in the time shifts was observed that enables the height of the stimulated rock volume to be estimated. Using full wavefield modeling, the distribution of time shifts is well described by an equivalent medium model of vertical fractures that close as pressure declines due to fluid leak-off. Converted P to S waves were also observed to scatter off stimulated rock near some stages as confirmed with full wavefield modeling. The signal-to-noise ratio is a limitation of the current dataset, but recent improvements in DAS technology can enable stage-by-stage monitoring of the stimulated rock height, fracture compliance, and decay time as a well is completed.
Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) has opened new possibilities for seismic monitoring of unconventional reservoirs. Using a laser interrogator to launch light pulses down a fiber optic cable, dynamic strain changes can be sampled along the cable from the phase shift of light backscattered to the interrogator (Hartog, 2017). Since the fiber optic cable can be permanently cemented outside the casing in a borehole, highly repeatable vertical seismic profiling (VSP) surveys can be acquired frequently without costly wireline geophone deployments that interfere with well treatment activities (Mateeva et al., 2017; Meek et al., 2017).
As described by Byerley et al., 2018, a unique interstage DAS VSP survey was conducted in 2017 during the stimulation of a horizontal well targeting the Wolfcamp formation in the Midland Basin, Texas. Using two vibroseis source locations offset about 1 mile from the heel and toe of the well, DAS data was acquired in the treatment well before and after each of 78 hydraulic fracturing stages. At the expense of fewer source locations, this type of acquisition allows the evolution of the stimulated rock volume (SRV) to be monitored on a stage-by-stage basis as the well is treated.