Modern hydraulic fracture treatments rely heavily on the implementation of formation property details such as in-situ stresses and rock mechanical properties, in order to optimize stimulation designs for specific reservoir targets. Log derived strain and strength calibrated in-situ properties provide critical description of stress variations in different lithologies and at varying depths. From a practical standpoint however, most of the hydraulic fracture simulators that are used for fracturing treatment design purposes today can accommodate only a limited portion of a geologic-based rock mechanical property characterization which targets optimal data integration thus resulting in complexity. By using examples from hydraulic fracture stimulations of coals in a complex but well characterized stress environment (Surat Basin, Eastern Australia) we distil out the reservoir rock related input parameters that are determinants of hydraulic fracture designs and identify those that are not immediately used. In order to understand the impact on improving future fracture stimulation designs, the authors present workflows such as pressure history matching of fracture stimulation treatments and the calibration process of key rock mechanical parameters such as Poisson's ratio, Young's modulus, and fracture toughness. The authors also present examples to discuss synergies, discrepancies and gaps that currently exist between ‘geologic’ geomechanical concepts (i.e. variations in the geometry and magnitude of stress tensors and their interaction with pre-existing anisotropies) in contrast to the geomechanical descriptions and concepts that are used and implemented in hydraulic fracturing stimulations.

In the absence of a unifying hydraulic fracture design that honors well established geologic complexity, various scenarios that allow assessing the criticality, usefulness and weighting of geologic/mechanical property input parameters that reflect critical reservoir complexity, whilst maintaining applicability to hydraulic fracturing theory, are presented in the paper. Ultimately it remains paramount to constrain as many critical variables as realistically and uniquely possible. Significant emphasis is placed on reservoir-specific pre-job data acquisition and post-job analysis. The approach presented in this paper can be used to refine hydraulic fracture treatment designs in similar complex reservoirs worldwide.

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