Microseismic mapping (MSM) has shown that the occurrence of complex fracture growth is much more common than initially anticipated and is becoming more prevalent with the increased development of unconventional reservoirs (shale-gas). The nature and degree of fracture complexity must be clearly understood to select the best stimulation design and completion strategy. Although MSM has provided significant insights into hydraulic fracture complexity, in many cases the interpretation of fracture growth has been limited due to the absence of evaluative and predictive hydraulic fracture models.

Recent developments in the area of complex hydraulic fracture propagation models now provide a means to better characterize fracture complexity. This paper illustrates the application of two complex fracture modeling techniques in conjunction with microseismic mapping to characterize fracture complexity and evaluate completion performance. The first complex fracture modeling technique is a simple, yet powerful, semi-analytical model that allows very efficient estimates of fracture complexity and distance between orthogonal fractures. The second technique is a gridded numerical model that allows complex geologic descriptions and more rigorous evaluation of complex fracture propagation.

With recent advances in complex fracture modeling, we can now evaluate how fracture complexity is impacted by changes in fracture treatment design in each geologic environment. However, quantifying the impact of changes in fracture design using complex fracture models alone is difficult due to the inherent uncertainties in both the Earth Model and "real" fracture growth. The integration of MS mapping and complex fracture modeling enhances the interpretation of the MS measurements, while also calibrating the complex fracture model. Examples are presented that show that the degree of fracture complexity can vary significantly depending on geologic conditions.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.