At the end of 2015 the U.S. held 5.6% or approximately 369 Tcf of worldwide conventional natural gas proved reserves (British Petroleum Company, 2016, “BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2016,” British Petroleum Co., London). If unconventional gas sources are considered, natural gas reserves rise steeply to 2276 Tcf. Shale gas alone accounts for approximately 750 Tcf of the technically recoverable gas reserves in the U.S. (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2011, “Review of Emerging Resources: U.S. Shale Gas and Shale Oil plays,” U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC). However, this represents only a very small fraction of the gas associated with shale formations and is indicative of current technological limits. This manuscript addresses the question of recovery efficiency/recovery factor (RF) in fractured gas shales. Predictions of gas RF in fractured shale gas reservoirs are presented as a function of operating conditions, non-Darcy flow, gas slippage, proppant crushing, and proppant diagenesis. Recovery factors are simulated using a fully implicit, three-dimensional, two-phase, dual-porosity finite difference model that was developed specifically for this purpose. The results presented in this article provide clear insight into the range of recovery factors one can expect from a fractured shale gas formation, the impact that operation procedures and other phenomena have on these recovery factors, and the efficiency or inefficiency of contemporary shale gas production technology.

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