The most effective method for stimulating unconventional reservoirs is using properly designed and successfully implemented hydraulic fracture treatments. The interaction between pre-existing natural fractures and the engineered propagating hydraulic fracture is a critical factor affecting the complex fracture network. However, many existing numerical simulators use simplified model to either ignore or not fully consider the significant impact of pre-existing fractures on hydraulic fracture propagation. Pursuing development of numerical models that can accurately characterize propagation of hydraulic fractures in naturally fractured formations is important to better understand their behavior and optimize their performance.

In this paper, an innovative and efficient modeling approach was developed and implemented which enabled integrated simulation of hydraulic fracture network propagation, interactions between hydraulic fractures and pre-existing natural fractures, fracture fluid leakoff and fluid flow in reservoir. This improves stability and convergence, and increases accuracy, and computational speed. Computing time of one stage treatment with a personal computer is now reduced to 2.2 minutes from 12.5 minutes than using single porosity model.

Parametric studies were then conducted to quantify the effect of horizontal differential stress, natural fracture spacing (the density of pre-existing fractures), matrix permeability and fracture fluid viscosity on the geometry of the hydraulic fracture network. Using the knowledge learned from the parametric studies, the fracture-reservoir contact area is investigated and the method to increase this factor is suggested. This new knowledge helps us understand and improve the stimulation of naturally fractured unconventional reservoirs.

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