Containment of Massive Hydraulic Fractures
- E.R. Simonson (Terra Tek, Inc.) | A.S. Abou-Sayed (Terra Tek, Inc.) | R.J. Clifton (Terra Tek, Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Society of Petroleum Engineers Journal
- Publication Date
- February 1978
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 27 - 32
- 1978. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 2.2.2 Perforating, 5.1.1 Exploration, Development, Structural Geology, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.5.1 Fracture design and containment, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 3 Production and Well Operations, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation
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Hydraulic fracture containment is discussed in relationship to linear elastic fracture mechanics. Three cases are analyzed, (1) the effect of different material properties for the pay zone and the barrier formation, (2) the characteristics of fracture propagation into regions of varying in-situ stress, propagation into regions of varying in-situ stress, and (3) the effect of hydrostatic pressure gradients on fracture propagation into overlying or underlying barrier formations. Analysis shows the importance of the elastic properties, the in-situ stresses, and the pressure gradients on fracture containment.
Application of massive hydraulic fracture (MHF) techniques to the Rocky Mountain gas fields has been uneven, with some successes and some failures. The primary thrust of rock mechanics research in this area is to understand those factors that contribute to the success of MHF techniques and those conditions that lead to failures. There are many possible reasons why MHF techniques fail, including migration of the fracture into overlying or underlying barrier formations, degradation of permeability caused by application of hydraulic permeability caused by application of hydraulic fracturing fluid, loss of fracturing fluid into preexisting cracks or fissures, or extreme errors in preexisting cracks or fissures, or extreme errors in estimating the quantity of in-place gas. Also, a poor estimate of the in-situ permeability can result in failures that may "appear" to be caused by the hydraulic fracture process. Previous research showed that in-situ permeabilities can be one order of magnitude or more lower than permeabilities measured at near atmospheric conditions. Moreover, studies have investigated the degradation in both fracture permeability and formation permeability caused by the application of hydraulic fracture fluids. Further discussion of this subject is beyond the scope of this paper. This study will deal mainly with the containment of hydraulic fractures to the pay zone.
In general, the lithology of the Rocky Mountain region is composed of oil- and gas-bearing sandstone layers interspaced with shales (Fig. 1). However, some sandstone layers may be water aquifers and penetration of the hydraulic fracture into these penetration of the hydraulic fracture into these aquifer layers is undesirable. Also, the shale layers can separate producible oil- and gas-bearing zones from nonproducible ones. Shale layers between the pay zone and other zones can be vital in increasing successful stimulation. If the shale layers act as barrier layers, the hydraulic fracture can be contained within the pay zone.
The in-situ stresses and the stiffness, as characterized by the shear modulus of the zones, play significant roles in the containment of a play significant roles in the containment of a hydraulic fracture. The in-situ stresses result from forces in the earth's crust and constitute the compressive far-field stresses that act to close the hydraulic fracture. Fig. 2 shows a schematic representation of in-situ stresses acting on a vertical hydraulic fracture. Horizontal components of in-situ stresses may vary from layer to layer (Fig. 2). For example, direct measurements of in-situ stresses in shales has shown the minimum horizontal principal stress is nearly equal to the overburden principal stress is nearly equal to the overburden stress.
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