Tight oil from shale rock in UAE: A success story of unconventional fracturing

Nabila Lazreq, Rakesh Kumar, Eisa Al Shamisi, Hassan Al Marzouqi, Fatima Al Dahmani, Abdullah Ali Al Hashmi, Yin Luo, Tomislav Bukovac, Muhannad Al Kalbani

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


For the past few years ADNOC has extensively ramped up its effort in exploring and testing unconventional reservoir across Abu Dhabi tight oil and shale gas formation as part of its oil & gas 2030 strategy. Shilaif tight oil exploration started over 5 years ago with multiple vertical wells drilled and tested allowing discovery of stacked tight oil play with significant resources in place. To unlock these resources, horizontal drilling and multistage fracturing were used to confirm recoverable resources, and well potential. Prolific production results have since propelled hydraulic fracturing, hence it has become imperative to build a process to standardize unconventional fracturing technical and operational requirements and to maximize efficiency and benefit. A prime example of such process was in Huwaila-68 where the organic-rich Shilaif shale/tight oil formation was targeted. A target that is analogous to the Eagle Ford from the same Late Cretaceous age. A significant weight is put on reservoir quality assessment to minimize margin of error and increase the probability of fracturing success, and to maximize recovery of the estimated tight oil and shale gas in place. This process assessed the Shilaif from a geological, petrophysical, and geomechanical perspectives. This was followed by setting up preferential staging and perforation placement strategy for fracturing based on reservoir and completion quality which correlated to an initially built 1D mechanical earth model. Production forecasting using reservoir simulations were also utilized to assess fracturing success and deliverability. The processes above led to completing multistage fracturing in Huwaila-68 within the Shilaif formation by means of a pump- down perf and plug operation coupled with high rate slick water pumping, which was followed by extensive well testing. Operational efficiency allowed for the completion of 27 stages placing in excess of 7.3 million lbs of proppant. The use of chemical tracers as a qualitative measure allowed for correlation between natural fracture presence, recorded pumping events, and initially recorded gas shows while drilling. Such observations would help in well placement for future horizontal wells. Post fracturing production rates have met expectations, and were in line with the initial reservoir assessment predictions. The novelty of this paper is the inclusion of several domains to reduce the error margin of fracturing unconventional formations such as the Shilaif. Being an area where field development is rapidly taking place, the inclusion of new technologies have become persistent, and these were evident from the reservoir assessment phase, through to the fracturing phase, and ending with the well testing phase. This level of data gathering and assessment will act as a benchmark for all future unconventional fracturing within the UAE while lessons learnt will further enhance the turnover from drilling to production.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety of Petroleum Engineers - Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference 2020, ADIP 2020
PublisherSociety of Petroleum Engineers
ISBN (Electronic)9781613997345
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
EventAbu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference 2020, ADIP 2020 - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Duration: Nov 9 2020Nov 12 2020

Publication series

NameSociety of Petroleum Engineers - Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference 2020, ADIP 2020


ConferenceAbu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference 2020, ADIP 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Arab Emirates
CityAbu Dhabi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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