50th U.S. Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium,
2016. American Rock Mechanics Association
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Hydraulic fracturing has been instrumental in commercializing ultra-tight unconventional resources. Although hydraulic fracturing has been used for nearly half a century in more than a million wells, understanding and mapping hydraulic fracture growth remains a challenge for ultra-tight reservoirs. A number of approaches have been taken to better understand and characterize hydraulic fractures in the subsurface, but a technology which can accurately map hydraulic fractures with minimal operational interference and negligible cost remains elusive. This paper discusses the technical foundation for a novel hydraulic fracture and proppant mapping technology (IMAGE Frac), which is technically robust, easy to use, and low cost. The technology is founded upon basic linear poromechanics theory, utilizing measurements from surface pressure gauges during the stimulation process to determine the geometry, orientation, and spatial location of hydraulic fractures with what is believed to be higher precision than other traditional techniques. An overview of the technical foundation of this technology is provided with an illustrative example showing how this technology can be applied. In addition, key sensitivity studies, examining the impact of fracture geometries, mesh size, formation properties, number and size of fractures per stage, and fracture symmetry are provided. These sensitivity studies illustrate the potential for a robust fracture mapping technique to be developed using the fundamental principles discussed herein.
Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing, including multi-stage fracturing, novel completion tools, and use of slickwater & hybrid fluid systems (King 2010), have enabled economic production from North American shale reservoirs. Well productivity in these ultra-low-permeability reservoirs is largely controlled by the stimulation effectiveness (i.e., the ability to create a large matrix-fracture contact area with optimal conductivity distribution). During field development, multiple horizontal wells are drilled on a pad, so identifying the optimum well spacing or pumped fluid/proppant volumes to maximize the value of a pad is critical. Currently, well spacing is often optimized based on numerous well spacing field trials, which is a costly and inefficient approach. An improved understanding of hydraulic fracture geometry using systematic methods, therefore, has potential to significantly improve the value extracted from ultra-low-permeability plays.
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