The Effects of Existing Fractures in Rocks on the Extension of Hydraulic Fractures
- Norman Lamont (The Atlantic Refining Co.) | F.W. Jessen (The Atlantic Refining Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- February 1963
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 203 - 209
- 1963. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 3 Production and Well Operations, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 1.2.3 Rock properties, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.3.4 Scale, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation
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The effect of an existing fracture or joint plane, which may exist in a rock, on the extension of a hydraulically induced fracture through the rock has been investigated in the laboratory, By use of a series of models made form various outcrop rocks, the width and orientation of existing fractures do not alter the extension or direction of the hydraulic fracture. The results, which conform quite well with the Griffith theory of failure, are illustrated by a series of photograph of the various models.
The process of hydraulic fracturing has been widely used in the oil industry since its introduction in 1948 and has made possible the production of many reservoirs which would have been uneconomical prior to this process. Numerous studies of the mechanics of the process and of the effects of oriented fractures on recovery have appeared in the literature. The increased recoveries led to attempts to predict the orientation of hydraulic fractures at the wellbore and to the development of methods to control this orientation. Field tests have been devised which indicate the validity of theoretical predictions of fracture orientation at the borehole. The direction of extension of hydraulic fractures from the borehole has not received much attention since most studies have predicted, at least implicitly, that a fracture will continue in the same plane unless a change of state of stress in the rock occurs. Since such predictions are based on the assumption of rock homogeneity, the effects of rock heterogeneities are left unknown. Most sedimentary rocks are composed of layers which reflect the changing depositional conditions of geological time. In addition, the more competent rocks frequently are fractured and jointed as the result of structural deformations or tectonic movements. Evidence of such joint systems exists in many surface outcrops, and it can be assumed that similar systems occur in many subsurface rocks, although the individual joints may be rather tightly closed due to overburden forces. This paper investigates the effect that an existing fracture in a rock would have on the direction or orientation of an extending or advancing hydraulic fracture when it intersects the existing fracture. The study was conducted on small rock models under triaxial stress conditions. The results indicate that an existing fracture will have little effect on the hydraulic fracture.
THE MODEL STUDY
The rock model represents an elemental portion of the earth containing an existing fracture which is located at some distance from a borehole from which hydraulic fracture is being extended. A generalized view of a model is presented in Fig. 1. The models were constructed from cement blocks and natural rocks. The various materials tested and some of the physical properties are listed in Table 1. The rocks were cut into rectangular blocks with dimensions of 1 1/2 X 3 1/2 X 4 to 8 in. An initial slot was cut into the end face of each block along the longitudinal axis normal to the top face. The slot was filled with plastic aluminum along its outer edge to a depth of 1/16 in. A hole of 3/8-in. diameter was drilled into the sealed slot at the center of the end face to serve as an entry port for the fracturing fluid. Existing fractures of various types were simulated in the models. A "hairline" fracture with essentially zero width was created by cutting the model into two parts with a diamond saw and replacing the two parts together along the cut. A finite-width fracture was created by placing a layer of sand grains between the two faces of the cut just described (see Fig. 12). A large open fracture (similar, perhaps, to a vug) was created by cutting the model in two parts and removing a portion of the downstream block to a depth of 1/2 in. See Fig. 13.
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