The identification of fracture barrier is important for optimizing horizontal well drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and protecting fresh aquifer from contamination. The word “brittleness” has been a prevalent descriptor in unconventional shale reservoir characterization, but there is no universal agreement regarding its definition. Here a new definition of mineralogical brittleness is proposed and verified with two independent methods of defining brittleness. Formation with higher brittleness is considered as good fracturing candidate. However, this viewpoint is not reasonable because brittleness does not indicate rock strength. For instance, fracture barrier between upper and lower Barnett can be dolomitic limestone with higher brittleness. A new fracability index is introduced to overcome the shortcoming of brittleness by integrating both brittleness and energy dissipation during hydraulic fracturing. This fracability index considers that a good formation for hydraulic fracturing is not only of high brittleness, but also requires less energy to create a new fracture surface. Therefore, the formation with lower fracability index is considered as a fracture barrier, while with higher fracability is considered as better fracturing candidate. Logging data from one well of Barnett shale is applied (1) to verify the principle of new brittleness and fracability index model; (2) and to demonstrate the process of screening hydraulic fracturing candidates employing fracability index model.
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