Hydraulic fracturing will be main drive force in oil and gas production from tight hydrocarbon reservoirs in the future. We present a comprehensive literature review on applications, advancement, and limitations of geomechanics and microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fracturing treatments for exploitation of unconventional reservoirs. Microseismic method is the sate-of-the-art technology to monitor the hydraulic fracturing process. Visualization of microseismic events determines the spatial extent of hydraulic fracturing at first glance. Advance analysis of microseismic measurements provides more detailed information about the fracturing mode and fractures geometry. It can even be used for determination of the state of stress in the reservoir and for helping in reservoir characterization at a large scale. Microseismic imaging has successfully been used on stimulation design and control, reservoir characterization and simulation of unconventional reservoirs particularly in North America. Geomechanical, petrophysical, and geophysical mechanisms of hydraulic fracturing and associated seismicity which are not fully understood are topics of ongoing research.
The goal of this study is to provide a comprehensive guideline and a study reference for geoscientists and engineers who would like to get familiar with the theoretical and practical aspects of microseismic monitoring. Starting with a brief history of exploitation of tight reservoirs and microseismic monitoring, the mechanism of hydraulic fracturing and microseismicity are described. Applications, processing, interpretation, and limitations of the methods are explained as wells as how microseismic technology has responded to some of the public concerns about environmental aspects and safety of the hydraulic fracturing process. In closing, four case studies are reviewed to provide some insights into the practical application and limitations of microseismic monitoring.