Reservoir depletion/injection results in changes in effective stress, which may cause formation failure, propagation of existing fractures/faults and initialisation of new fractures/faults. A flow-deformation coupled reservoir geomechanical modelling approach has been applied to compute the change in reservoir effective stress and associated propagation of fractures and reactivation of faults. The computed inelastic strain change was used to predict the magnitudes of microseismic emissions associated with fault reactivations. The moment magnitude of microseismic events, consistent with the Richter scale, can be computed from the scalar value of their moment tensor. In a discontinuous model, the moment tensor can be calculated directly; in finite element models, the moment tensor is calculated by integrating the change in inelastic shear strain over the volume of the elements containing the failed fault.

Coupled 3D geomechanical (deformation and fluid flow) simulations for Valhall field were conducted. Well rate and reservoir pressure histories were used as inputs to simulate reservoir depletion/injection. The 99 faults visible on seismic interpretations and 22 subregional fracture sets were included in the model. An elasto-inelastic cap model including water-weakening mechanism was used to model the chalk reservoir; the failure of faults and fractures were simulated by Mohr-Coulomb criterion. Prior to performing production simulation, preproduction stress modelling was carried out to reach an equilibrium stress state that was consistent with the in-situ condition, in terms of magnitude and orientation. Then, oil production at 112 wells and water injection at 15 wells for the period from 1982 to 2006 were simulated, during which the simulated microseismic events were in a good agreement with observations. The computed formation deformation in the reservoir and overburden was related to the in situ stress and faulting structure and was correlated over long distances. These characteristics are indicative of a near-critical process (and are also observed in flow rate correlations in the field). The coupled 3D geomechanical simulation provides a tool for validating modelled reservoir geomechanical effects against specific field data, and so enhances confidence in the implications predicted for drilling operations and reservoir management.

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