The propagation process and geometry of hydraulic fractures depend on complex interactions among the induced fractures and the pre-existing rock fabric, the heterogeneous rock properties, and the stress state. Accurate characterization of the resulting complex hydraulic-fracture geometry remains challenging. Fiber-optic-based distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) measurements have been used for monitoring hydraulic fracturing in adjacent treatment wells. DAS requires an optical fiber attached to the wellbore to transmit the laser energy into the reservoir. Each section of the fiber scatters a small portion of the laser energy back to a surface sensing unit, which uses interferometry techniques to determine strain changes along with the fiber. DAS data in offset wells fall in the low-frequency bands, which has been proven to be a powerful attribute for the characterization of the geometry of hydraulic fractures.

Numerous recently published field examples demonstrate the potential of low-frequency DAS (LF-DAS) data for the detailed characterization of the hydraulic fracture geometry. Understanding the fracture-induced rock deformation associated with LF-DAS signals would be beneficial for the better interpretation of real-time data. However, interpretation of LF-DAS measurement is challenging due to the complexity of the subsurface conditions, in addition to potential unanticipated completion issues such as perforation failure, stage isolation failure, etc. All current research efforts focus on the qualitative interpretation of field data.In this study, we quantified the hydraulic fracture propagation process and described the fracture geometry by developing a geomechanical forward model and a Green’s function-based inversion model for the LF-DAS data interpretation, substantially enhancing the value of the LF-DAS data in the process. The work has a significant transformative potential, involving a tool package with developed forward and inversion models that can provide crucial insights for the optimization of hydraulic-fracturing treatments and reservoir development.

Methodology

The tool package can be used directly in the field to interpret LF-DAS data and monitor hydraulic fracture propagation. Raw data from the field measurement can be automatically processed. The geomechanics forward model we developed can quantify and analyze the strain-rate response from the LF-DAS measurements based on the 3D displacement discontinuity method. Fracture hits are detected by calculating three 1D features along the channel (location) axis, i.e., the maximum strain rate, the summation of strain rates, and the summation of strain-rate amplitudes. Channels with fracture hits usually exhibit significant peak values of these three features. We proposed general guide-lines for fracture-hit detection based on the quantitative analysis of strain/strain-rate responses during the multistage fracturing treatment. The details of the forward model can be found in Liu et al. (SPE 202482, 204457, AMRA-2020-1426). Additionally, we developed a novel Green’s function-based inversion model to qualify fracture width and height based on the determined fracture hits. The strain field that is estimated from the integration of the strain rates measured by the LF-DAS data along the offset monitoring well is related to the fracture widths through a geomechanics Green’s function. The resulting linear system of equations is solved by the least-square method. Details can be found in Liu et al. (SPE 204158, 205379, 204225).

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