Measurements of Hydraulic-Fracture-Induced Seismicity in Gas Shales
- Norman R. Warpinski (Pinnacle) | Jing Du (Pinnacle) | Ulrich Zimmer (ConocoPhillips)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- August 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 240 - 252
- 2012. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 5.8.2 Shale Gas, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 2.5.4 Multistage Fracturing, 5.8.1 Tight Gas, 3 Production and Well Operations
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Hydraulic fracturing is an essential technology for hydrocarbon extraction from both conventional and unconventional reservoirs around the world. Recently, concern has developed regarding induced seismicity generated in association with multistage fracturing of horizontal wells in shale reservoirs. Microseismic monitoring of hydraulic fractures, which has been a routine service for over a decade, can provide information about the levels of seismic activity commonly found during fracturing. A review of thousands of fracture treatments that have been microseismically monitored shows that the induced seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing is very small and not a problem under any normal circumstances. Results are presented for six major shale basins in North America in which hundreds to thousands of fracture treatments have been conducted in predominatly gas reservoirs. This paper reviews the methodology, the data, and the interpretation of the microseismicity.
In unconventional reservoirs, such as the ultralow-permeability shales that are now being regularly exploited, it is absolutely essential to hydraulically fracture a well to obtain economic levels of production (Sutton et al. 2010).
Contrary to media and general public perception, hydraulic fracturing is not a "new" technology, having been applied since the late 1940s (Montgomery and Smith 2010). There is also a perception that hydraulic fractures are much larger than ever, but the "massive hydraulic fractures" that were performed in the 1970s (Fast et al. 1977; Gidley et al. 1979; Strubhar et al. 1980) were of similar size to many of the fracture treatments that are conducted in horizontal wells today. In addition, these large treatments were performed in shales in the eastern United States (Jennings et al. 1977), with some of the work supported by the United States government (Overby 1978; Duda et al. 2002) to prove up the resources in the Devonian shales of Appalachia and the western tight-gas sandstones of the Rocky Mountains.
A previous paper (Fisher and Warpinski 2011) presented data from microseismic monitoring that showed fractures are not a threat to propagate into aquifers. Results from thousands of monitored fractured treatments demonstrate that fractures will not propagate thousands of feet vertically and intersect potable water sources. In all of the shale basins studied, fractures remain several thousand feet below the deepest water source. Hydraulic fracturing is a safe technology as applied in these shale basins.
Recently, however, there has been considerable attention focused on earthquakes associated with hydraulic fracturing. Here, as well, microseismic monitoring is a valuable technology for assessing the earthquake potential of fracturing operations. The objective of this paper is to present the very large suite of microseismic measurements available to the authors in the major shale basins of North America that show that earthquakes are not a threat in any normal situation involving hydraulic fracturing. Most of the results provided here are for reservoirs that are predominantly gas, but there are also some data for reservoirs with greater liquid content; no attempt was made to separate the two.
|File Size||14 MB||Number of Pages||13|
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