This paper describes the development and capabilities of a novel and unique tool that interfaces a hydraulic fracture model and a reservoir simulator. This new tool is another step in improving both the efficiency and consistency of connecting hydraulic fracture engineering and reservoir engineering.

The typical way to model hydraulically fractured wells in 3D reservoir simulators is to approximate the fracture behavior with a modified skin or productivity index (PI). Neither method captures all the important physics of flow into and through the fracture. This becomes even more critical in cases of multiphase flow and multilayered reservoirs. Modeling the cleanup phase following hydraulic fracture treatments can be very important in tight gas reservoirs, and this also requires a more detailed simulation of the fracture. Realistic modeling of horizontal wells with multiple hydraulic fractures is another capability that is needed in the industry. This capability requires more than an approximate description of the fracture(s) in the reservoir-simulation model.

To achieve all the capabilities mentioned above, a new tool was developed within a commercial lumped 3D fracture-simulation model. This new tool enables significantly more accurate prediction of post-fracture performance with a commercial reservoir simulator. The automatically generated reservoir simulator input files represent the geometry and hydraulic properties of the reservoir, the fracture, the damaged zone around the fracture, and the initial pressure and filtrate fluid distribution in the reservoir. Consistency with the fracture-simulation inputs and outputs is assured because the software automatically transfers the information.

High-permeability gridblocks that capture the 2D variation of the fracture conductivity within the reservoir simulator input files represent the fracture. If the fracture width used in the reservoir model is larger than the actual fracture width, the permeability and porosity of the fracture blocks are reduced to maintain the transmissibility and porous volume of the actual fracture. Both proppant and acid fracturing are handled with this approach. To capture the changes in fracture conductivity over time as the bottomhole flowing pressure (BHFP) changes, the pressure-dependent behavior of the fracture is passed to the reservoir simulator.

Local grid refinement (LGR) is used in the region of the wellbore and the fracture tip, as well as in the blocks adjacent to the fracture plane. Using small gridblocks adjacent to the fracture plane is needed for an adequate representation of the filtrate-invaded zone using the leakoff depth distribution provided by the fracture simulator.

The reservoir simulator input can be created for multiphase fluid systems with multiple layers and different permeabilities. In addition, different capillary pressure and relative permeability saturation functions for each layer are allowed.


Historically, there have been three basic approaches commonly used for predicting the production from hydraulically fractured wells. First, analytic solutions were most commonly used, based on an infinite-conductivity or, later, a finite-conductivity fracture with a given half-length. This approach also was extended to cover horizontal multiple fractured wells (Basquet et al. 1999). With the development of reservoir simulators, two other approaches were developed.

For complicated multiwell, multilayer, multiphase simulations (i.e., full-field models), the fracture stimulation was usually approximated as a negative skin. This is the same as increasing the effective wellbore radius in the simulation model. An alternate approach, developed initially for tight gas applications, was to develop a special-purpose numeric reservoir simulator that could explicitly model the flow in the fracture and take into account the special properties of the proppant, such as the stress-dependent permeability or the possibility of non-Darcy flow. Such models typically were limited to a single-layer, single-phase (oil or gas) situation.

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