Most carbonate reservoirs behave as dual porosity-permeability systems in which the rock matrix and both natural and created hydraulic fractures contribute to the hydrocarbon transport in a very complex manner. Understanding the behavior of the permeability of the matrix frame, natural fractures, and created hydraulic fractures, as a function of reservoir depletion, is vital to designing optimum stimulation treatments and to maximize the carbonate formation's exploitation.

Core samples were selected from a carbonate reservoir and a testing procedure was applied to determine the stress dependant permeability as a function of various combinations of effective stresses. A tensile natural fracture was simulated by splitting a whole core by failing it under tension using a Brazilian test procedure. The stress dependant permeability was evaluated under varied effective stresses simulating a reservoir depletion scenario. A shear fractured core was selected from a given carbonate formation and a stress dependant permeability was established. The tensile fractured core was then propped with a low concentration of small mesh proppants and the permeability of the simulated propped fracture was determined. Using a new reservoir simulator the testing results and selective functions were used to predict the production performance of a carbonate reservoir under the effect of the stress dependant permeability.

The experimental results indicate that the tensile fractures are much less conductive than shear fractures and the shear fractures are less conductive than propped fractures. The concept of effective stress within the rock matrix is totally different than that of natural fractures; therefore, the effective stress function for both matrix and natural fractures should be separately evaluated to obtain representative functions for any simulation study. The tensile fractures lose conductivity at very early stages of reservoir depletion. Recommendations to manage these tensile fractures for optimum hydrocarbon recovery are suggested.

Practical outputs of this work are: 1) Understand how natural fractures are controlled to efficiently contribute to well productivity, 2) Quantify the effective stress concept in the matrix and fracture systems, 3) Provide stress-dependant correlations for simulation studies.

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