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By allowing the measurement of several different parameters in a single well, the SWAM (Shale Well Advanced Monitoring) method optimizes the characterization of the SRV (Stimulated Rock Volume) in the wells of an unconventional play to accelerate the development. This new approach offers better performance than current options and will soon be ready for deployment on several of Total’s unconventional plays.

Nicolas Mottet

Unconventional Resources

Combining several acquisition and monitoring techniques in the same well

Benchmarking and comparing the data gathered should enable us to accelerate the process of appraising the geometry and productivity of the SRV (Stimulated Rock Volume) while fine-tuning the design and efficiency of the field development: optimizing fracking design, well spacing, fracture placement, etc. This acquisition method is the key to considerably faster developments of unconventional resources, at a lower cost.

A demonstration pilot in Argentina

To confirm the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the different acquisitions as well as the potential for synergy between the various technologies deployed, we pilot-tested the SWAM in the Vaca Muerta Shale.

The SWAM pilot was implemented in 2018 on the well APGe-411h, a multi-fracked horizontal well of the Aguada Pichana Este block operated by Total. It combined three tried-and-tested acquisition solutions:

  • A surface microseismic survey to image the hydraulic fractures created;
  • Installation of fiber optic cable to detect acoustic and temperature variations and thereby identify which zones are penetrated by the fracking fluids, then identify, during production, which ones are producing;
  • Injection of tracers in the fractures of the well as a means of identifying the production from each fracture.

Three innovative acquisition technologies

The pilot enabled us to validate the following technologies:

  • 4D4 FRAC: 4D seismic performed in October 2018 both before (baseline) and after (monitor) hydraulic fracking to characterize the exact geometry of the SRV. Creating an SRV within the rock alters the seismic wave velocity. Accordingly, the SRV can be characterized by comparing the baseline and monitor images.
  • The proprietary low-cost WTLog (Well Test Log) method, used for the first time along a horizontal shale gas well, to obtain an injectivity profile by continually circulating fluids of different viscosities. An initial WTLog survey was conducted in August 2018 in an open hole (OH) before running the casing to measure injectivity directly in the rock formation and obtain a pseudo permeability along the horizontal drain. A second WTLog survey took place in the cased hole (CH) in November 2018 (i.e., after running the casing and fracking the well) to acquire the injectivity profile in each of the fractures created along the drain. The Cased Hole (CH) WTLog thus offers a faster alternative to a Production Logging Tool (PLT) at one-tenth the cost.
  • A technique for estimating the geomechanical properties of the rock over the full length of the well based on an analysis of drilling data (drilling speed, torque, etc.), implemented to optimize the design and placement of fracking stages.

It will take several more months to analyze and integrate the data in order to demonstrate and fully confirm the maturity and added value of the new technologies tested. However, the initial benchmarks obtained through the SWAM pilot look highly promising for an industrial deployment. The results of the Cased Hole WTlog in particular exhibit a good correlation with the optic fiber results. The time savings brought by the SWAM method have already been proven. In the near future, the SWAM could be deployed on other Total-operated unconventional assets in Argentina and in the United Arab Emirates, for example.


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