Maximum horizontal stress (SH) and stress path (change of SH and minimum horizontal stress with depletion) are the two most difficult parameters to define for an oilfield geomechanical model. Understanding these in-situ stresses is critical to the success of operations and development, especially when production is underway, and the reservoir depletion begins. This paper introduces a method to define them through the analysis of actual minifrac data. Field examples of applications on minifrac failure analysis and operational pressure prediction are also presented.

It is commonly accepted that one of the best methods to determine the minimum horizontal stress (Sh) is the use of pressure fall-off analysis of a minifrac test. Unlike Sh, the magnitude of SH cannot be measured directly. Instead it is back calculated by using fracture initiation pressure (FIP) and Sh derived from minifrac data. After non-depleted Sh and SH are defined, their apparent Poisson's Ratios (APR) are calculated using the Eaton equation. These APRs define Sh and SH in virgin sand to encapsulate all other factors that influence in-situ stresses such as tectonic, thermal, osmotic and poro-elastic effects. These values can then be used to estimate stress path through interpretation of additional minifrac data derived from a depleted sand.

A geomechanical model is developed based on APRs and stress paths to predict minifrac operation pressures. Three cases are included to show that the margin of error for FIP and fracture closure pressure (FCP) is less than 2%, fracture breakdown pressure (FBP) less than 4%. Two field cases in deep-water wells in the Gulf of Mexico show that the reduction of SH with depletion is lower than that for Sh.

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