Simultaneous multiple-fracture treatments in horizontal wellbores are becoming a prevalent approach to economically develop unconventional resources in shale reservoirs. One challenge to efficiently use the technique is the generation of effective hydraulic fractures from all perforation clusters. In this work, we conducted a fundamental study of physical mechanisms controlling simultaneous multiple-fracture propagation and discussed the potential approaches to improve nonuniform development of multiple fractures. This study was investigated by our recently developed 3D fracture-propagation model that captures the coupled elastic deformation of the rock with fluid flow in the horizontal wellbore and within the fractures. The model demonstrated that fracture geometry was controlled by both the stress-shadow effects and dynamic partitioning of flow rate. The analysis results indicated that the nonuniform development of a multiple-fracture array, for example, a three-fracture array in this study, was induced by the uneven partitioning of flow rate into each fracture, which was dependent on the flow resistance from wellbore friction, perforation friction, and fracture propagation. Furthermore, the stress shadowing from the exterior fractures exerted additional stress on the interior fractures and increased the resistance of fracture propagation, resulting in the interior fractures receiving much less fluid. To minimize the negative effects of stress shadowing and favor more-uniform fracture growth, we investigated potential approaches to promote uniform partitioning of flow rate through adjusting the flow resistance between multiple fractures. The results showed that adjusting perforation friction can provide an effective way to modify the partitioning of flow rate and mitigate the negative effects of stress shadowing. The mechanisms investigated in this study are consistent with field observations. Our approach can help field operators to improve the effectiveness of multiple fracturing treatments and maximize the production.

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