The East Duvernay shale basin is the newest addition to the list of prolific reservoirs in Western Canada. Over the last 3 years, horizontal drilling and multistage hydraulic fracturing have increased significantly. Because much of the play is still relatively new, much of the drilling has been limited to single wells or two wells per pad. Due to the low permeability of the matrix, hydraulic fracturing is required to unlock the full potential of the East Duvernay field. Because geomechanics is a critical factor in determining the effectiveness of hydraulic fracture propagation, we examined how varying the pore pressure profiles affects modeled in situ stresses, hydraulic fracture geometries, and overall field optimization.

The pore pressure varies across the East Duvernay shale basin with the depth of the reservoir and other geomechanical parameters. The stresses in the Ireton, Upper Duvernay, Lower Duvernay, and Cooking Lake reservoirs also varies from the West to the East shale basins. High-tier logging, core measurements, and field data were used to build a mechanical earth model, which is then input for hydraulic fracture simulations. Whole core images and image logs indicate the Duvernay to be a naturally fractured reservoir. Because pore pressure is a direct input into the interpretation for in situ stresses, we sensitized on seven pore pressure profiles through the Ireton, Upper and Lower Duvernay, and Cooking Lake reservoirs. Typical pumping design currently being implemented in the Upper Duvernay was used to determine hydraulic fracture geometry based on the various in situ stress profiles. Black oil PVT models were built to run numerical reservoir simulation production forecasts to understand the effect of variations in geomechanical properties on well production performance. The effect of the varying hydraulic fracture properties on well spacing was also investigated for the seven pore pressure profiles, by combining the complex hydraulic fracturing and reservoir simulation.

The results clearly indicated the need to better understand, quantify, and constrain the in situ stress profiles variations with changes in pore pressure models. Hydraulic fracture length is greater within the Upper Duvernay when a constant pore pressure is modeled in the Ireton, Duvernay and the Cooking Lake, which leads to an overestimation of production. If a normal pore pressure is modeled in the Ireton with overpressure in the Duvernay, the hydraulic fracture grows into the Ireton and gives a more realistic production forecast. When the modeled pore pressure is gradually ramped up from the Lower Ireton into the Duvernay, slightly greater fracture length is created in the Duvernay but not enough to make a huge difference in forecasted production. These varying results for the modeled hydraulic fracture geometries impact the optimum number of wells per section.

As more wells come on production and the economic viability of the play is proven, operators will drill more wells per section. Thoroughly understanding the variations in geomechanics across the formations above and below the Duvernay is important. This objective of this study was to drive the conversation about the data that need to be collected and tests that should be run to support the optimization of economic development of the play for years to come.

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