Hydraulic-Fracture-Height Growth Under the Combined Influence of Stress Barriers and Natural Fractures
- Jixiang Huang (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) | Joseph P. Morris (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) | Pengcheng Fu (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) | Randolph R. Settgast (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) | Christopher S. Sherman (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) | Frederick J. Ryerson (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Journal
- Publication Date
- February 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 302 - 318
- 2019.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Stress Barrier, Hydraulic fracturing, Fracture Intersection, Natural Fracture, Fracture Height
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 298 since 2007
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A fully coupled finite-element/finite-volume code is used to model 3D hydraulically driven fractures under the influence of strong vertical variations in closure stress interacting with natural fractures. Previously unknown 3D interaction mechanisms on fracture-height growth are revealed. Slipping of a natural fracture, triggered by elevated fluid pressure from an intersecting hydraulic fracture, can induce both increases and decreases of normal stress in the minimum-horizontal-stress direction, toward the center and tip of the natural fracture, respectively. Consequently, natural fractures are expected to be able to both encourage and inhibit the progress of hydraulic fractures propagating through stress barriers, depending on the relative locations between the intersecting fractures. Once the hydraulic fracture propagates above the stress barrier through the weakened segment near a favorably located natural fracture, a configuration consisting of two opposing fractures cuts the stress barrier from above and below. The fluid pressure required to break the stress barrier under such opposing-fracture configurations is substantially lower than that required by a fracture penetrating the same barrier from one side. Sensitivity studies of geologic conditions and operational parameters have also been performed to explore the feasibility of controlled fracture height. The interactions between hydraulic fractures, natural fractures, and geologic factors such as stress barriers in three dimensions are shown to be much more complex than in two dimensions. Although it is impossible to exhaust all the possible configurations, the ability of a 3D, fully coupled numerical model to naturally capture these processes is well-demonstrated.
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