The upstream oil and gas industry has seen its share of innovation over the past several decades. The driving force behind these changes has always been a relentless push toward operational and capital efficiency. With this in mind, the patented sealed wellbore pressure monitoring (SWPM) process was born. Developed by a team of completion engineers at Devon Energy, SWPM was commercialized in 2020 by Devon’s exclusive partner Well Data Labs. Since then, over 10,000 stages have been analyzed with SWPM in every major North and South American unconventional basin.
The concept behind the SWPM technique is straightforward, economical and highly accurate. A sealed wellbore filled with low compressibility fluid, typically freshwater or brine, acts as a monitor well. Surface or downhole gauges on the monitor well measure minute pressure changes, which provides valuable data. As a nearby active well is hydraulically stimulated, fractures spread toward the sealed wellbore. When fractures interact with the sealed wellbore, the gauges respond to the pressure changes. This pressure data is collected and transmitted, along with the fracturing data, to the Well Data Labs cloud-based system, which is used to analyze fracture-driven interactions between the active and monitor wells (Figure 1).
SWPM, a 2021 Hart Meritorious Engineering Award recipient, has proven to be a tremendously valuable, flexible tool for the oil field and has also been validated by other oilfield diagnostics. A recent case study from the Permian Basin provides a visualization of fracture arrivals detected via a cross-well strain, an established diagnostic tool, versus the pressure responses observed in the monitor well (Figure 2).