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00007693

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Simulation
of
Hydraulic
Fracturing
Processes
A. Settari,
SPE,
Intercomp Resource Development
and
Engineering Inc.
Abstract
A mathematical model
of
the fracturing process,coupling the fracture mechanics and fracturepropagation with reservoir flow and heat transfer,has been formulated. The model
is
applicable tofracturing treatments as well as to high leakoffapplications such as fractured water floods andthermal fractures. The numerical techniquedeveloped
is
capable
of
simulating fracture extensionfor reasonably coarse grids, with truncation errorbeing minimized for high leakoff applications whenthe grid next to the fracture
is
approximately square.With the aid
of
the model, a generalization
of
Carter's propagation formula has been developedthat
is
also valid for high fluid-loss conditions. Thecapabilities
of
the-
model are illustrated by examples
of
heat transfer and massive-hydraulic-fracturing(MHF) treatment calculation.
Introduction
Induced fracturing
of
reservoir rock occurs undermany different circumstances. Controlled hydraulicfracturing
is
an established method for iqcreasingproductivity
of
wells in low-permeability reservoirs.The technology
of
fracturing and the earlier designmethods are reviewed by Howard and Fast.
1
Inwaterflooding, injection pressures also
often
exceedfracturing pressures. This may result from pooroperational practices, but it also could be intended toincrease injectivity.
2
In heavy oils, such as Albertaoil sands, most in-situ thermal recovery techniquesrely on creating injectivity by fracturing the formation with steam.
3
Fracturing also
is
being used asa method for determining in-situ stresses
4
and forestablishing communication between wells for extraction
of
geothermal energy.
5,6
Finally, fracturesmay
be
produced
by
explosive treatment or induced
0197·7520/8010012· 7693$00.25
Copyright 1980 Society
of
Petroleum Engineers
DECEMBER
1980
thermal stresses (such as in radioactive wastedisposal).To date, most
of
the research has been directedtoward the understanding and design
of
fracturestimulation treatments, with emphasis on predictingfracture geometry.7-11 The influence
of
fluid flowand heat transfer in the reservoir has been neglectedor accounted for
by
various approximations in thesemethods. On the other hand, the need for reservoirengineering analysis
of
fractured wells led to thedevelopment
of
analytical techniques and numericalmodels for predicting postfracture performance.
12-16
A. common feature
of
all these methods
is
that theytreat only stationary fractures, which therefore mustbe computed using some
of
the methods
of
the firstcategory mentioned earlier.With the high costs associated with MHF,
17-19
andwith increasing complexity
of
the treatments, it
is
becoming important to be able to understand theinteraction
of
the physical mechanisms involved andto improve the designs.This paper presents a numerical model
of
thefracturing process that simultaneously accounts forthe rock mechanics, two-phase fluid flow, and heattransfer, both in the fracture and in the reservoir.The model
is
capable
of
predicting fracturepropagation, fluid leakoff and heat transfer, fractureclosure, cleanup, and post fracture performance.Although the detailed calculations
of
fracturegeometry, proppant transport, etc., have not beenincluded, they can be integrated in a natural waywithin the present model. Because vertical fracturesare prevalent except for very shallow depths, thediscussion
is
limited to vertical fracturing. The paperfocuses attention on the formulation
of
the basicmodel and the numerical techniques in general.Applications to fracturing treatments and the specificenhancements
of
the model are described in a morerecent paper.
20
487
 
FRACTUREDINJECTOR
/
"
Lf
"
"
""
OTHER
INJECTION
OR
PRODUCTION WELLS
I
"
)-
----
h-~~------"'I---c:,-~",,"
Fig.
1
-
The physical system.
Physics
of
Fracturing
The processes taking place during hydraulic fracturing are among the most complex encountered inreservoir engineering.
For
the purpose
of
discussion,they may be divided into the following categories.
Rock Mechanics
The behavior
of
the rock under stress
is
nonlinear.
21
~he
fracture extension could be obtained, in princIple, by solving the three-dimensional equations
of
nonlinear elasticity together with appropriate failurecriteria and mass balance on injected fluid. Thenonlinear character
of
the problem has beenrecognized,22,23 but due to the extreme complexity
of
the general problem, the analyses have been based ontwo-dimensional, linear elasticity solutions
of
equilibrium cracks.
24,25
The design method
of
Perkins and Kern,
7
improved by Nordgren,
II
usesthe solution in the vertical
~lane,
while the methods
of
Geertsma and de Klerk and Daneshy9 use thesolution in the horizontal plane, which tends topredict larger fracture width. The current researcheffort
is
directed toward description
of
the threedimensional character
of
fracture growth andfracture containment.
26-28
Fluid Flow
Flow in the fracture and leakoff into the formationaffect the fracture shape as well as length. Thenonlinear behavior
of
complex fracture fluids
is
taken into account in existing design methods as faras the flow in the fracture
is
concerned, but the flowfrom the fracture to the reservoir has been accountedfor by leakoff coefficients derived from onedimensional flow.
1,29
While this approach
is
justified for most situations typical for fracturingtreatments, the multidimensional character
of
flowand multi phase flow effects are important in otherapplications2
,3
and obviously for postfractureperformance predictions.
Heat Transfer
Apart
from the obvious applications in thermalrecovery, heat transfer
is
important when the fluidproperties are sensitive to temperature. Several in-
488
vestigators proposed methods
of
estimating the heattransfer during injection
29
-
31
and after shut-in
32
using various assumptions
on
fracture dynamics andfluid flow.
In
reality, heat transfer
is
linked intimately to fluid flow, in particular to the leakoffdistribution along the fracture face, and it also canaffect the stress field significantly.
33
Other Effects
Here
we
can include effects such as chemical reactions in acidizing, breakup
of
gels and foams, andother physical and chemical processes associated withthe use
of
complex fluids.As pointed
out
before, there are a number
of
strong interactions between the mechanisms involved. A design method that would be applicableover the wide range
of
conditions encountered mustconsider all basic mechanisms simultaneously and, assuch, can be based only
on
numerical modeling.
Mathematical Model
The model describes two-dimensional, compressible,two-phase flow and heat transfer in a reservoirsimultaneously with initiation and propagation
of
avertical fracture from a well located at the origin
of
the coordinate system (Fig.
1).
While the flow andheat transfer
is
described by the appropriate differential equations, the elasticity problem
is
simplified by the use
of
the known analytical solutions.The rigorous solution
of
the rock mechanics can beincorporated in this model, but it presents a muchmore difficult problem and does not seem feasiblefor practical applications because
of
the cost.
Model
of
Fracture Mechanics
In this model, the equations
of
elasticity areeliminated using the following assumptions.
1.
The fracture propagates in the
x
direction.2. Pressure drop resulting from flow in thefracture has a negligible influence
on
fracturegeometry.3. The fracture width
w(x)
is
constant in thevertical direction at any distance
x
from the well, andthe fracture height
h
j
is
equal to the pay thickness
h.
This model8assumes plane strain conditions in the
x-
y
plane, with no shear strength or friction
at
theinterfaces with the base-and caprock.As a consequence, fracture shape in the
x-y
planewill be elliptical, and the pressure in the fracture canbe
exp~essed
as a functi.on
of
fracture length
L
j'
reserVOIr
pressure, elastIc properties, and in-situstresses only. Hagoort
34
derived the equations forfracture initiation pressure
P
ji'
fracture propagationpressure
P
p'
and fracture opening/closure pressure
Pjoc,
whicli consider the effect
of
pore pressure. Theresulting equations used in the simulator are
2(
1
~
v)UV+
2U
Hi
+Apep+u
r
Pji
=
-----------
2-Ape
ur
!2
=Pjoc+
l-Ape/
2'
..................
(1)
SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL
 
(-V-)<TV+<THi
+Apepl2
I-v
Pjoc=
I-A
pe
l2·
=
<T
H
-A
pe
PI2,
...................
(2)
I-A
pe
l2
-f
2E~
]V2j
Pjp =Pjoc
+
Li
I-v2)
(I-A
pe
l2),
.....
(3)
and
P
p
= min(fi
P' P
i
) ,
where
Ape
is
a poroelastic constant,
Ape
=
ex
(
1 -
2v)
f
(
1 -
v) ,
and
ex
is
Biot's constant. Note that Eq. 1 agrees withHaimson and Fairhurst.
35
As discussed by Geertsma,36 Biot's constant canbe expressed as
ex
=
1 -
C
m
fCR,
where
cm
is
t~e
compressibility
of
the material
of
the
ro~k
and
C
R
~s
the bulk compressibility customary
In
reserVOIr
engineering. Note that
ex
=
0 for an impermeablemedium.The width
wand
volume
Vj
of
the fracture aregiven by
w(x)
=w
o
[1-
(xILj)2]Y2
and
27rhLjO-Ape!2)(1-
v2)
( )
V
j=
E
Pj-Pjoc
=
~
woLjh.
.
.....................
(4)
2
The fracture pressure
Pj
can
?ave
any
val~e
between
Pjp
a~d
Pjoc .
.
The fracture
wIll
propagate If
Pj=Pjp
and
WIll
close If
P
=
P
oe;.
. .
This treatment takes Into account large vanatronsin reservoir pressure when the fracture grows overlong periods
of
time.
2
In this case, the pressure
P
inthe preceding formulas
is
replaced by the averagereservoir pressure
jJ.
Although the preceding modelhas been derived from the assumption
of
negligiblepressure drop in the fracture [i.e.,
Pj(x)
.=co~stan.t],
it can be adapted readily for the case
of
hIgh-VISCOSIty
fluids where the pressure drop
is
the controllingfactor.
20
Fluid Flow
The reservoir flow
is
described by the conventionalflow equations for two phases, which for the purpose
of
the discussion are denoted as oil and water:
o
[(Ope
OZ)]
0
[
(Ope
_
OZ)]
ox
"ex
a;
-~e
ox
+
oy "ey oy
~e
oy
o
=-(¢beSe}+qe,
ot
e
=
0,
w,O<x<L
x'
O<y<L
y,
.........
(5)
where
Po-Pw=Pc(Sw),
DECEMBER 1980
and
So
+Sw
=
1.
Here,
kxkre
"ex=--,
P-eBe
and
~e=Peg·
The flow in the fracture, under the assumption
of
zero capillary pressure,
is
given by
o
f"
('!!!1_
OZ)]_
ox
ifox
~e
ox
q&oss
o
= --
(Ajbeuif)
-qe
ax
loss
o
=
ot(beAjSif},
f=o,
w,
O<x<Lj(t)
..................
(6)
where
"fj=
'5.!-b
eS
if
Aj,
......................
(7)
P-
and
A
=
hw
=
f(x,
t)
is
the fracture cross-sectionalarea. The boundary conditions are
AjbfUfj=
(if
atx=O.
Oatx=L
j.
Eq. 7 implies that both fluids flow with the samevelocity. The fracture permeability
k
j
for an openfracture
is
calculated assuming laminar flow as
k
j
=w
2
/12.
For
~
propped fracture,
k
j
depends onproppant propertIes.Eq.
6
is
written for one wing
of
a fracture with fullwidth. Therefore, the
ie
are half the actual well ratesand
qo
represents losses
on
two fracture faces,
( loss
while
qe
in Eq.
5
will include half
of
qe
loss.
Heat Transfer
The reservoir energy balance gives
o
--
(HwPwuwx+HoPouox)
ox
+
~
("
OT)
+
~
("
OT)
ox
x
ox
oy
y
oy
o
= -
[¢(PwSwUw
+PoSoU
o)
ot
+
(1-
¢)
(pCp)R
T]
+
HlosSob
+
hh
(T
r
-
T
j
).
.
..................
(8)
489

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