Hydraulic fracturing is a stimulation technique essential for economical development of tight gas and shale gas reservoirs. Analysis of the performance of fracturing jobs and optimization of the treatment design requires modeling which accounts for all important features of the process and ideally covers both the treatment and post-stimulation production of the well. It is now well established that the productivity of the wells is due not only to the classical tensile single plane fracture (SPF), but to the development of an enhanced permeability region (stimulated reservoir volume or SRV) around it due to shear fracturing and/or stimulation of existing dual porosity. The shape and size of the SRV depends not only on the injection process but also on the geomechanics of the reservoir. Current techniques are not able to predict its dependence on frac job parameters, which precludes any meaningful optimization. Typically the SRV size is assumed (e.g., from microseismic) in production forecasting.

In this work we have developed a new coupled geomechanical and flow model for analysis and optimization of tight and shale gas treatments. The formulation includes the propagation of a tensile (SPF) fracture and dynamic development of the shear failure. Non-fractured blocks are assumed to be of linear elastic material; whereas in the failed blocks, fractures and rock compliance matrices are homogenized to form an equivalent compliance matrix. Simple Mohr-Coulomb and tensile failure relationships were used as the criteria for detecting fracture creation. Hyperbolic functions are used to describe the fracture normal and pre-peak shear deformations while the post-peak shear behavior follows an elasto-plastic model. The permeability enhancement during the fracturing process is computed and is the principal coupling between the flow and geomechanics. The model is 3-dimensional and treats both normal and shear behaviour of fractures. The simulation results reveal that shear fracturing will be the dominant fracturing mechanism in cases where the rock cohesion is low and the deviatoric stress is high, whereas tensile fracturing prevails in other conditions.

The new model will be a realistic tool for analyzing the dependence of the well productivity on design parameters such as stage volume and pumping rate, spacing between stages, etc. It can be also used to screen shale plays for the most favorable geomechanical conditions.

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