Quarterly reports are common, but this data can be outdated when it reaches decision makers. Companies need easy-to-read, actionable, updated information.
by Eric Foster
August 12, 2015

Boosting well production is a primary goal for well service, equipment, and exploration and production companies, especially given the current state of the industry and the decreased prices of oil and natural gas. In a time when prices are continually fluctuating, getting the most out of every unconventional well drilled is critical for operators. One of the most useful strategies for determining how to improve production capabilities is customized interpretation of industry data and analytics.

The Importance of Data

Data are indispensable industry assets, providing nearly all companies involved in a well's life cycle with a competitive edge and helping them make educated decisions from permitting through production. Companies involved in every phase of the well cycle can benefit from using data as a business intelligence tool and a source of best practices, ultimately resulting in increased well production and efficiency. Determining how to best complete a well and identifying what products are used successfully in each shale basin are essential to the success of all companies engaged in the dynamic unconventional oil and gas industry.

Unconventional Differences

Formations within each unconventional basin range in depth, pressure and other characteristics. As a result, products and methods used in well completion provide different results depending on the play. For example, certain proppants and accompanying products that are successful at one well site might not yield the same results elsewhere. In addition, drilling techniques specific to the depth, pressure and other characteristics of the well should be considered to best increase well production. Data help well service providers and exploration and production companies determine what products and equipment are being used in each unconventional play and which drilling practices are successful. Ultimately, the information helps users find ways to increase production.

Data Access

Industry professionals can currently access data and information from many sources and at different, regular intervals. Quarterly reports are a common source of data. However, this form of reporting can be inefficient and dated because professionals must sort through lengthy reports to identify pertinent information from data that are often months old. These data are often irrelevant by the time the report is published. While the widespread availability of oil and gas industry data has led to more thoughtful and intelligent business practices by different companies, the ability to connect completion and production is important to further expand on these practices.

Well completion activities are closely tied to production. Unfortunately, most data sources do not provide the logical connection between the two. This forces companies to purchase data from two different sources and marry the two, which can be difficult.

Some of the components that service providers control and manage during well completion include depth, horizontal lateral length, proppant type (pure sand, resin or different tail-ins), mesh sizes and proppant intensity. By altering one or more of these factors, well service providers and exploration and production companies can ensure that the money spent on the well is properly used to retrieve the maximum amount of oil from the reservoir.

Customizable Data

Typically, industry data are available in standard formats and are not normally delivered through a dynamic tool that supports scenario modeling. Some services are customizable so that end users can pull data and statistics on the aspects of the industry most applicable to them. Because the same information will not be equally useful or compelling for all companies or even for wells or sales opportunities within the same company, one data system provides the ability to access data on a granular level. Users can organize their view by well, operator, service provider, supplier, proppant, product or basin. The benefits of customizable data are significant, because they can be used to make improved, more accurate business decisions that are directly relevant to \uc0\u8232 the end user.

Timely Data

In addition to the ability to customize data into easily digestible graphs and charts, data provided on a weekly or daily basis prove to be essential for making better business decisions. While most of the data on the market are available on a less frequent basis, resulting in especially retrospective data-based decisions, one solution provides daily updated data, allowing end users to make decisions based on more current information.

Timely data provide a competitive advantage when compared with using less current data.

Case Study: 2014 Horizontal Well Production in Texas

The 90-day production profiles of horizontally completed unconventional plays in Texas illustrate the relationship between vertical depth and production. As Figure 1 shows, the different plays vary in production characteristics by total vertical depth (TVD) (see page 33). Other variables could be considered, including lateral well length, proppant type, proppant intensity and stage strategy. However, the production/TVD charts may provide important data.

Eagle Ford
Other MidCon
Granite WashFigure 1. Scatter plots of 2014 production in several Texas unconventional plays (Courtesy of NavPort)

Figure 1 shows the production (in barrels of oil equivalent) in the first 90 days for horizontal wells completed in 2014. The y-axis plots production amounts against the well's total vertical depth on the x-axis. To allow for visual comparison, the axes of all charts are identical.

One conclusion to be drawn from the scatter plots in Figure 1 is that no simple and obvious correlation between TVD and the first 90 days of production exists, even within a single basin. This implies that operators should focus on other aspects of their completion activities, such as proppant type, proppant intensity and horizontal lateral length to improve production.

Customized data intelligence can provide significant benefits to professionals in the unconventional oil and gas industry.

By harnessing and accurately interpreting data, well service providers and exploration and production companies can function more efficiently than ever, which is crucial in today's volatile market.