Abstract

Analysis of minifracs and pore pressure surveys from sand reservoirs in a Gulf of Mexico oil field show effective stress ratios, K, that scatter significantly and do not correlate with previously published fracture gradient models for this area. The lower-bound value of K is 0.33, which corresponds to the expected value for Coulomb failure for a coefficient of friction of 0.6 in normal faulting environments. However, in some sands K approaches unity, thus indicating an essentially isotropic stress field. Hence, the data indicate a highly variable state of stress that cannot be simply related to depth or pore pressure, but appears to reflect an interaction between deformational processes and material properties.

Borehole breakout analysis in vertical wells reveals stress orientations that are predominantly perpendicular to normal faults and, hence, consistent with an extensional stress regime. Analysis of breakouts in inclined wells in two sand reservoirs allows to constrain the magnitude of the maximum horizontal principal stress, SHmax. and further indicates an active normal faulting environment with a clear, but small degree of horizontal stress anisotropy (i.e., Sv>SHmax>Shmin).

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