In recent years, geologists and petroleum engineers have struggled to clearly identify the mechanisms that drive productivity in horizontal, hydraulically-fractured oil wells producing from the middle member of the Bakken formation. This paper fills a gap in the literature by showing how this play’s heterogeneity affects factors that drive well productivity. It is important because understanding the relative strength of productivity drivers and how predictors vary spatially facilitates best-practices for well site selection and well completion design. The paper describes an application of the Random Forest (RF) machine learning technique to identify these mechanisms and to evaluate their importance across 9 subareas of the North Dakota portion of the Bakken play. The study examined productivity of 7311 wells initiating production from 2010 through 2017. Well productivity varied considerably across the 9 subareas within the play, so it was not surprising that the dominant predictors, the initial 180-day water cut and the 30-day initial gas production, vary spatially to mirror local conditions that strongly affect well productivity. The relative importance of well completion predictor variables, that is, the numbers of fractures stages per well, volume of injected proppant per stage, volume of injected fluids per stage, and lateral length, varied considerably across the subareas. Statistical permutation tests are presented that generally confirm the importance rankings. Subarea Random Forest models explained from 50 percent to 82 percent of the variation in productivity test samples while the play-wide model explained 73 percent of the test sample well productivity. Weakness in the predictive ability of the Random Forest models are traced to the limited variability in the training data. Implications of the empirical findings regarding the Bakken play for operators and for research and government institutions are discussed in the concluding section.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.1016/j.petrol.2020.107150
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70209617)