Hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling has been the technology that makes it possible to economically produce natural gas from unconventional shale gas reservoirs. For best performance of fracturing stimulation, hydraulic fracturing designing parameters, such as different proppants, fracturing liquids, and injection rate and pressure, should be evaluated before the oeration in a particular reservoir system. Traditional evaluation and optimization approaches are usually based on the simulated fracture properties along, such as fracture areas. In our opinion, the better methodologyshould be also related to production data from the stimulated wells afterwards, because the enhanced production is the ultimate goal.

In this paper, we present a general fully-coupled numerical framework to simulate the hydraulic induced fracture propagation and post-fracture gas well performance. This three-dimensional, multi-phase simulator focuses on: (1) fracture width increase and fracture propagation that occurs as slurry is injected into the fracture, (2) erosion caused by fracture fluid and leakoff, (3) proppant subsidence and flowback, and (4) multi-phase fluid flow through various-scaled anisotropic natural and man-made fractures. Mathematical and numerical details on how to fully couple the fracture propagation part and the fluid flow part are discussed. Fracturing and production operation parameters, properties of the formation, and reservoir, fluid, and proppant properties are all taken into account in this model. The well may be horizontal, vertical, or deviated, as well as open-hole or cemented. This simulator is verified based on benchmarks the literature. We show its application by simulating the fracture network (hydraulic and natural fractures) propagation and production data history matching of field production data in China. We conduct a series of real-data modeling studies with different combinations of fracturing parameters and present the methodology to design fracturing operations with feedback of simulated production data. This unified model aids in the optimization of hydraulic fracturing design, operations, and production.

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