Numerical Investigation of Coupling Multiphase Flow and Geomechanical Effects on Water Loss During Hydraulic-Fracturing Flowback Operation
- Mingyuan Wang (University of Alberta) | Juliana Y. Leung (University of Alberta)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering
- Publication Date
- July 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 520 - 537
- 2016.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Flow-back, Mechanistic models, Tight reservoirs, Hydraulic fracturing, Secondary fractures
- 16 in the last 30 days
- 402 since 2007
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Less than half the fracturing fluid is typically recovered during the flowback operation. This study models the effects of capillarity and geomechanics on water loss in the fracture/matrix system, and investigates the circumstances under which this phenomenon might be beneficial or detrimental to subsequent tight-oil production. During the shut-in (soaking) and flowback periods, the fracture conductivity decreases as effective stress increases because of imbibition. Previous works have addressed fracture closure during the production phase; however, the coupling of imbibition caused by multiphase flow and stress-dependent fracture properties during shut-in is less understood. A series of mechanistic simulation models is constructed to simulate multiphase flow and fluid distribution during shut-in and flowback. Three systems—matrix, hydraulic fracture, and microfractures—are explicitly represented in the computational domain. Sensitivities to wettability and multiphase-flow functions (relative permeability and capillary pressure relationships) are investigated. As wettability to water increases, matrix imbibition increases. Imbibition helps to displace the hydrocarbons into nearby microfractures and hydraulic fractures, enhancing initial oil rate, but it also hinders water recovery. The results indicate that fracture closure may enhance imbibition and water loss, which, in turn, leads to further reduction in fracture pressure and conductivity. Results also suggest that more-aggressive flowback is beneficial to water cleanup and long-term oil production in stiff rocks, whereas this benefit is less prominent in medium-to-soft formations because of excessive fracture closure. Because no direct correlation between high initial oil-flow rate and improved cumulative oil production is observed, measures for increasing oil relative permeability are recommended for improving long-term oil production. This work presents a quantitative study of the controlling factors of water loss caused by fluid/rock properties and geomechanics. The results highlight the crucial interplay between imbibition and geomechanics in short- and long-term production performances. The results in this study would have considerable impact on understanding and improving current industry practice in fracturing design and assessment of stimulated reservoir volume.
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