Low- to ultralow-permeability formations require “special” treatments/stimulation to make them produce economical quantities of hydrocarbon, and at the moment, multistage hydraulic fracturing (MSHF) is the most commonly used stimulation method for enhancing the exploitation of these reservoirs. Recently, the slot-drill (SD) completion technique was proposed as an alternative treatment method in such formations (Carter 2009).
This paper documents the results of a comprehensive numerical-simulation study conducted to evaluate the production performance of the SD technique and compare its performance to that of the standard MSHF approach. We investigated three low-permeability formations of interest—namely, a shale-gas formation, a tight-gas formation, and a tight/shale-oil formation. The simulation domains were discretized with Voronoi-gridding schemes to create representative meshes of the different reservoir and completion systems modeled in this study.
The results from this study indicated that the SD method does not, in general, appear to be competitive in terms of reservoir performance and recovery compared with the more traditional MSHF method. Our findings indicate that the larger surface area to flow that results from the application of MSHF is much more significant than the higher conductivity achieved by use of the SD technique. However, there may exist cases, for example, a lack of adequate water volumes for hydraulic fracturing, or very high irreducible water saturation that leads to adverse relative permeability conditions and production performance, in which the low-cost SD method may make production feasible from an otherwise challenging (if not inaccessible) resource.