Pad Development:  Less Can Mean More
Data Science & Analytics

Pad Development: Less Can Mean More

Rosemary Jackson  •  

Global Earth Model: Ingests the client’s geo model, including vertical well logs and/or bulk seismic and reservoir maps. Loads in advanced reservoir diagnostics to understand trends between communicating wells and fluid characteristics.

Economics Engine: This engine converts production forecasts into NPV and cash flows. Creates an economic model that can be modified to reflect the latest vendor contracts and product price forecasts.

Even our clients that already have their pad strategy finalized and are working on completions optimization, want to run their current well configuration through the geomechanics-based Global Earth Model and Economics Engine. They want to see if what they’re pouring millions of dollars into is the right path moving forward. At we’ve seen that less can mean more in pad construction with some surprising results.

price for well pad
well pad price scenario

Dr. Nitin Chaudhary, Senior Data Scientist at, explains the complexity, “In the subsurface when you’re planning the next well or the new pad, there’s always the tricky decision of what spacing you should use for the new wells. That ties back to how many total wells you should put in a new pad. You could go for different scenarios like 4 wells in a pad, 6 wells in a pad, 8 wells in a pad.The higher the number of wells, the tighter the spacing.

The reason why it’s such a tricky decision is because you have no idea whether you are over-draining the reservoir section that your pad is supposed to be exploiting. It’s difficult to know that in advance. So how do people deal with that problem?

“Engineers have tried different kinds of approaches. One would be a purely machine learning approach where the team would come in and say, well, let me pull out all the other pads that we’ve done in this vicinity and try to figure out how my spacing relates to my productivity. That’s a good approach, but that approach isn’t constrained by actual physics.

That’s where the approach is significantly better because what we do is help you get to a drainage number for all the different scenarios. We can tell you how much drainage you’d get for a 4 well scenario versus a 6 well scenario, an 8 well scenario, a 12 well scenario.

“The reason we can do that is because we have a global geomechanics-based earth model that takes into account the local geomechanics at the pad’s specific location. This is why our drainage number is much better than a drainage prediction you’d get from a non-constrained modeling approach.

well pad oil price scenario
oil pad scenario

“Well, you might ask, that answers one piece of the problem as to figuring out how much drainage I can extract in a 4 well versus a 12 well scenario, but how can I evaluate those options if the resources are fighting against each other? What’s the optimum number of wells to drain the greatest amount of reservoir that the pad is exposed to in a complex reservoir situation?

That question comes down to the economics. A 12 well pad is going to be much more expensive than a 4 well pad. Even though you might get a higher drainage from a 12 well pad versus a 4 well pad, the economics, the proppant costs, the fluid costs, and the other completion drilling costs might change that scenario and make the 4 well pad economically better.

It’s about balancing both of these variables, economics and drainage. What lets you do is estimate the drainage part within the economics engine. It can tell you accurately what the difference is in the drainage per well of a 4 well versus a 12 well pad because of that globally constrained earth model that can account for well spacing and the drainage calculation. We add to that an economics engine which can take that drainage number and convert it into an NPV number based on any set of economic assumptions you make about the specific pad.

“There was this trend over the past years towards bigger pads. Everyone was pushing for bigger pads then the price suddenly crashed. People started scratching their heads asking what is the optimum pad now, in this current scenario? That’s what lets you answer.

And what we found was, that bigger pads aren’t always the best economic pad. Depending upon the current economic conditions, asking what is the oil price doing, a smaller pad might be more economic in terms of the capital efficiency or the net present value than a bigger pad. It’s all about balancing the current economic conditions with what the actual reservoir can deliver and combining those two and coming up with a decision about how many wells you should put in a pad and how you should design your pad.

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