WellDog Launches New Service to Identify Shale Sweet Spots

The results of field trials to test a new shale technical service challenge the petrophysical models used by one major oil and gas operator, an official with technical services firm WellDog Pty Ltd. told Rigzone.

WellDog announced the launch of its Shale SweetSpotter service Tuesday following the conclusion of successful field trials with Royal Dutch Shell plc in the Marcellus shale play. WellDog said the service is the first commercial reservoir-evaluation analysis technology designed specifically for unconventional oil and gas. The new service uses lasers and detectors to identify locations where hydrocarbons occur in shale formations, WellDog said in an Aug. 9 press statement. This service allows producers to focus development efforts, reduce drilling costs, optimize production and reduce the number of hydraulic fracturing stages and associated water usage.

The new service uses WellDog’s Reservoir Raman System, which was originally developed to find sweet spots in coalbed methane developments. In 2014, WellDog started working with Shell International Exploration and Production to adapt WellDog’s downhole Raman spectroscopy technology for identifying natural gas and natural gas liquids in shale formations.

The Shale SweetSpotter service aims to address the fact that only one-third to one-half of hydraulic fractures carried out in shale plays are productive, John Pope, president and CEO of WellDog, told Rigzone. In some cases, the lack of productivity is due to where laterals are landed; in other cases, where lateral fracks are completed. Productivity is not just an issue in the Marcellus, but in shale plays globally.

The results of the field trials, which focused mostly on the western Marcellus, were surprising, Pope said. During the trials, WellDog learned to broaden the application for the service to be applicable for all types of tight rocks.

“The way that people have looked at the productivity challenge has typically been based on mineralogy,” Pope explained.

During a discussion of field trial results at a recent industry conference, Shell officials said that the Shale SweetSpotter indicated the presence of better pay zones compared to what Shell’s models suggested.

It drove home the value and need to go and actually test where hydraulic fracturing is occurring, rather than making assumptions based on indirect models, Pope explained. Shell has not yet released the field trial results to WellDog. Hopefully, as Shell addresses its completion methods in response to the results, information on the service’s impact on production will be released, Pope said.

The field trials mark the conclusion of WellDog’s project with Shell, Pope added.

During the first half of 2016, WellDog had been in talks with other major operators for a partnership similar to WellDog’s relationship with Shell. However, no tangible movements toward adoption were made because operators were not actively exploring. But operators are now starting to think about where to land their next laterals, and are expressing strong interest in WellDog’s technology, Pope said.

The Marcellus play is one of five shale basins in which Shell holds interests. Earlier this year, Shell officials said they did not want to activate their shale resources at this time as an active growth opportunity because of today’s low oil prices. However, the company does view its shale resources as a significant future growth opportunity beyond the year 2020. As part of its capital efficiency strategy, the company has sought to boost the efficiency of its wells by drilling smaller holes, slimming wells, and using managed pressure and underbalanced drilling.

Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at kboman@rigzone.com

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