Characterizing Hydraulic Fracturing With a Tendency-for-Shear-Stimulation Test
- Mark McClure (University of Texas at Austin) | Roland Horne (Stanford University)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- May 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 233 - 243
- 2014.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.9.2 Geothermal Resources, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation
- gas shale, geothermal, well testing, shear stimulation, hydraulic fracturing
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- 850 since 2007
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The classical concept of hydraulic fracturing is that a single, planar, opening mode fracture propagates through the formation. In recent years, there has been a growing consensus that natural fractures play an important role during stimulation in many settings.There is not universal agreement on the mechanisms by which natural fractures affect stimulation, and these mechanisms may vary depending on formation properties. One potentially important mechanism is shear stimulation, in which increased fluid pressure induces slip and permeability enhancement on pre-existing fractures. We propose a tendency-for-shear-stimulation (TSS) test as a direct, relatively unambiguous method for determining the degree to which shear stimulation contributes to stimulation in a formation. In a TSS test, fluid injection is performed while maintaining the bottomhole fluid pressure slightly less than the minimum principal stress. Under these conditions, shear stimulation is the only possible mechanism for permeability enhancement (except, perhaps, thermally induced tensile fracturing). A TSS test is different from a conventional procedure because injection is performed at a specified pressure (rather than a specified rate).With injection at a specified rate, fluid pressure may exceed the minimum principal stress, and it may cause tensile fractures to propagate through the formation. If this occurs, it will be ambiguouswhether stimulation was because of shear stimulation or tensile fracturing. Maintaining pressure less than the minimum principal stress ensures that the effect of shear stimulation can be isolated. Low-rate injectivity tests could be performed before and after the TSS test to estimate formation permeability. An increase in formation permeability would indicate that shear stimulation has occurred. The flow-rate transient during injection may also be interpreted to identify shear stimulation. Numerical simulations of shear stimulation were performed with a discrete-fracture-network (DFN) simulator that couples fluid flow with the stresses induced by fracture deformation. These simulations were used to qualitatively investigate how shear stimulation and fracture connectivity affect the results of a TSS test. Two specific field projects are discussed as examples of a TSS test, the Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) projects at Desert Peak, Nevada, and Soultz-sous-Forêts, France.
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