A simple model of gas production from hydrofractured horizontal wells in shales

Tad Patzek, Frank Male, Michael Marder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Assessing the production potential of shale gas can be assisted by constructing a simple, physics-based model for the productivity of individual wells. We adopt the simplest plausible physical model: one-dimensional pressure diffusion from a cuboid region with the effective area of hydrofractures as base and the length of horizontal well as height. We formulate a nonlinear initial boundary value problem for transient flow of real gas that may sorb on the rock and solve it numerically. In principle, solutions of this problem depend on several parameters, but in practice within a given gas field, all but two can be fixed at typical values, providing a nearly universal curve for which only the appropriate scales of time in production and cumulative production need to be determined for each well. The scaling curve has the property that production rate declines as one over the square root of time until the well starts to be pressure depleted, and later it declines exponentially. We show that this simple model provides a surprisingly accurate description of gas extraction from 8305 horizontal wells in the United States' oldest shale play, the Barnett Shale. Good agreement exists with the scaling theory for 2133 horizontal wells in which production started to decline exponentially in less than 10 yr. We provide upper and lower bounds on the time in production and original gas in place.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2507-2529
Number of pages23
JournalAAPG Bulletin
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2014. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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