Conventional methods for simulation of hydraulic fracturing are based on assumptions of continuous, isotropic and homogeneous media. These assumptions are not valid for most rock mass formations, particularly shale gas reservoirs, as these typically consist of a large volume of naturally fractured rock in which propagation of a hydraulic fracture (HF) involves both fracturing of intact rock and opening or slip of pre-existing discontinuities (joints). The pre-existing joints can significantly affect the HF trajectory, the pressure required to propagate the fracture and also the leak-off from the fracture into the surrounding formation. None of these effects can be simulated using conventional methods.
HF Simulator is a new three-dimensional numerical code that can simulate propagation of hydraulic fracture in naturally fractured reservoirs, accounting for the interaction between the hydraulic fracture and pre-existing joints. In HF Simulator, fracture propagation occurs as a combination of intact-rock failure in tension, and slip and opening of joints. The code uses a lattice representation of brittle rock consisting of point masses (nodes) connected by springs. The pre-existing joints are derived from a user-specified discrete fracture network (DFN).
HF Simulator can model fluid injection or production from one or multiple boreholes each with one or multiple clusters. Non-steady, hydro-mechanically coupled fluid flow and pressure within the network of joint segments and the rock matrix are considered.
An outline of the code hydro-mechanical formulation is presented and examples are provided to illustrate the code capabilities.