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Hydraulic Fracture Interacting With Partially-Cemented and Non-Persistent Natural Fracture

Fu, Wei (2018) Hydraulic Fracture Interacting With Partially-Cemented and Non-Persistent Natural Fracture. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Natural fractures (NFs) are commonly encountered in unconventional reservoirs, sometimes strongly impacting the hydraulic fracture (HF) propagation. The HF-NF interaction has been studied extensively as a 2D problem, and almost all studies assume NFs to be continuous with the same properties over the entire NFs. However, it is a nearly ubiquitous feature that NFs in shale reservoirs are of different sizes and fully/partially filled with mineralization, leading to spatial variations in mechanical properties. These heterogeneous features of NFs may lead to distinctive interaction behaviors that can only be understood in a 3D setting.

Inspired by field observations, this research is aimed at studying the influence of NF heterogeneity on HF propagation. It is comprised of three main parts. First, analogue laboratory experiments were carried out to demonstrate the HF-NF interaction with variations of cemented proportion and cementation strength of NFs. Experimental observations prove that the spatial heterogeneity of NFs can significantly influence the HF propagation path. Three main patterns were observed as the size of the cemented region(s) decreases: (1) complete crossing (2) crossing with mismatched crack path (3) no crossing. Furthermore, based on and benchmarked with lab observations, a new 3D analytical criterion was developed from linear elastic fracture mechanics to quantitatively assess the dependence of HF-NF interaction behaviors on NF heterogeneity. Lastly, fully-coupled DEM (distinct element method) lattice simulation was conducted on the 3D growth of HFs crossing partially/fully cemented NFs. The simulation results are consistent with experimental observations and match the analytical criterion well in an extended parametric space of NF properties including twenty sets of simulation cases.

In summary, experimental, analytical and numerical approaches demonstrate the essential consideration of NF heterogeneity when estimating the HF propagation. This work reveals the 3D interaction patterns of HFs crossing partially-cemented and non-persistent NFs, and identifies the role of spatially-varied NF properties in HF-NF interaction. Most importantly, a new analytical criterion is found to give good agreement with both experimental and fully-coupled numerical results. It therefore can be used to embed more realistic criteria in numerical simulators aimed at predicting potentially complex and multi-stranded HF propagation in unconventional reservoirs.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Fu, WeiWEF17@PITT.EDUWEF170000-0002-3151-8385
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBunger,
Committee MemberLin,
Committee MemberVallejo,
Committee MemberHarbert,
Date: 20 June 2018
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 14 February 2018
Approval Date: 20 June 2018
Submission Date: 5 April 2018
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 147
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Civil and Environmental Engineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Hydraulic Fracturing, Analytical Criterion, Numerical Simulation, Laboratory Experiments, Fracture Complexity, Unconventional Reservoir.
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2018 17:00
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2018 17:00


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