Role of geomechanics is becoming increasingly important with maturing of conventional reservoirs due to its implications in drilling, completion and production issues. Exploration and development of unconventional reservoirs involve maximizing the reservoir contact and hydraulic fracturing both of which are heavily dependent on geomechanical architecture of the reservoirs and thus require application of geomechanical concepts from the very beginning.
To support the unconventional exploration and conventional reservoir development in Kuwait, country-wide in-situ stress mapping exercise has been carried out in nine fields of Northern Kuwait. Stringent customized quality control measures were put in place to evaluate stress orientation. Cretaceous and sub-Gotnia Salt Jurassic rocks exhibit distinct patterns of stress orientations and magnitudes. While the variations in stress orientation in the Cretaceous rocks are within a small range (N40°E-N50°E) and consistent across major fault systems, the Jurassic formations exhibit high variability (N20°E-N90°E) with anomalous patterns across faults as well as in the vicinity of fracture corridors. Moreover, the overall stress magnitudes were found to be much higher in the strong Jurassic section compared with the relatively less strong Cretaceous strata. During the analysis, it was also observed that several natural fractures in Jurassic reservoirs appear to be critically stressed with evidences of rotation of breakouts.
Using geomechanical models from a specific field, the effects of in-situ stress, pore pressure and rock properties on formations were evaluated in inducing wellbore instability during drilling operations in a tight gas reservoir. It was found that the most favorable orientation for directional drilling is parallel to the maximum horizontal stress (SHmax) within that field.
The geomechanical study provided inputs not only for wellbore stability during drilling, but also regarding the response of natural fractures to in-situ stresses to become hydraulically conductive (permeable) to act as flow conduits. The fracture model of the field shows that the dominant fracture corridor trend in the field is NNE coinciding with present day in-situ maximum principal stress direction.