As a mature technology to enhance the permeability of geological formations, hydraulic fracturing has widely been used in geothermal energy development and in the petroleum industry. Due to its effectiveness in practical applications, it attracts many research efforts. Because of the complexity of hydraulic fracturing itself and the complex distribution of stresses around wellbores, accurately describing the behaviors of hydraulic fractures is still a challenging task. In this study, a numerical model is developed to simulate curved propagation of hydraulic fractures from a wellbore, and emphases are placed on influence of in-situ stress and near wellbore stress redistribution.

In the developed hydromechanical model, special considerations are given to its ability to simulate curved propagation of hydraulic fractures. The propagation of fractures is modeled through the phase-field method. Several cases on hydraulic fracture initiation and propagation from horizontal wellbores are studied through the proposed model. The model has been successfully verified through analytical solutions. The influence of stress redistribution caused by wellbore pressurization on hydraulic fracture initiation from wellbores is analyzed. Under different in-situ stress configurations and initial fracture orientations (perforation or flaws around wellbores are represented by the initial fractures), several patterns of hydraulic fracture propagation around the wellbores are recognized. It is found that the stress redistribution in the close vicinity of wellbores has great influences on the fracture initiation and propagation, and it makes hydraulic fractures propagate in nonplanar, complex manners. As hydraulic fractures propagate away from the stress redistribution regions around the wellbores, in-situ stress then determines the directions of fracture propagation; the curvature of fracture growth paths is mainly determined by the difference in in-situ stress, for example, σv − σhmin in this study. It has also been demonstrated that, when analyzing fracture propagation from wellbores, the wellbore stability or nonlinear deformation of a wellbore should be considered together with the fracture propagation conditions.

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