Delineating geometry of natural fractures realistically and understanding fracture stress sensitivity help to optimize well placement and well spacing design in shale gas reservoirs. This paper presents a methodology for building 3D hybrid discrete natural fracture network (DFN) models and using an analytical model to assess reactivation potential of natural fracture in the Longmaxi shale, Sichuan Basin.

Small-throw faults and natural fractures ranging from seismic scale to well scale in shale reservoirs have important effects on the success of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Seismic geometric multi-attributes at different resolution scales are used to classify seismic facies according to the degree of fracturing. Small-throw faults are delineated using seismic facies and validated against drilling data. We develop a discrete natural fracture network (DFN) model at the seismic scale by meshing fracture lineaments tracked from an enhanced curvature attribute. Fracture topologies are used for fracture connectivity analysis to build local fracture networks along and around the horizontal wellbores. Diffuse fractures at the small scale are modeled with curvature attributes and well data analysis under the constraint of the seismic facies. The analytical model incorporates fracture properties and geomechanical model to describe the deformation of natural fractures due to hydraulic fracturing. Fracture stress-sensitivity are assessed based on changes of fracture volumes under different stress conditions. Characterized reactivated local fracture networks at different scales along the horizontal wells are used to map out volumetric extent of zones with potential to develop tensile and shear deformation during hydraulic fracturing. Available microseismic data from the hydraulic fracture stimulation of the reservoir is used to validate the fracture models.

Our stress sensitivity analysis indicates that reactivation potential of natural fractures varies considerably, mainly depending on natural fracture size and orientation, rock mechanical properties and anisotropy of horizontal stresses. DFN models reveal that fracture concentrations are correlative with the footprint of observed microseismic events. Comparison of 3D natural fracture models with the microseismic event distribution shows that vertical variation of fracture properties in the laminated shale reservoir adds complexity for fracture propagation.

A case study is used to illustrate the efficiency of the methodology. Fracture models at different scales and associated fracture stress-sensitivity can be used as a predictive tool for locating new wells and completion design in shale gas reservoirs.

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