Distinguished Author Series

Off-Balance Growth: A New Concept in Hydraulic Fracturing
A. Ali Daneshy

Abstract This paper offers a new fracturing concept that explains how and why actual hydraulic fractures deviate from the commonly accepted single-fracture growth models. It demonstrates that the fracture follows the local path of least resistance, not the global path, and this leads to substantial branching, presence of extensive shear fractures, and a growth pattern that is dominated by conditions at the tip of the propagating fracture, thus making its growth haphazard and off balance. Within each fracture, branching and shear fracturing create a complex path for the fluid flow and proppant transport, as well as production of reservoir fluid. As a result, most hydraulic fractures are substantially shorter and narrower than the intended design and yield a suboptimal production increase because of inadequate fracture length and conductivity. Often, common well-completion designs also lead to creation of multiple fractures at the wellbore, a situation further aggravated by prevailing fracture designs. Off balance growth can obstruct proppant flow, which may lead to screenout. Introduction The oil and gas industry has long recognized the inadequacy of existing theories to predict the behavior and outcome of hydraulic fracturing treatments. Treatments require higher pressures than predicted by theory. After-fracture pressure buildup tests often behave more like those of radial flow from wells with negative skin than of fractured wells.1 Actual production increases from fractured wells are lower than predicted from fracture design computations. Several field observations show very complex fracture paths, presence of multiple fractures, and random-appearing proppant distribution. Warpinski et al.2-5 provide a comprehensive review of some of the major experiments conducted by Sandia Natl. Laboratories at the Nevada Test Site and by the Gas Technology Inst. and U.S. Dept. of Energy at M-Site. These reports detail important features of these fractures, together with an explanation of their cause. These results are used extensively as background and support for the new off-balance fracture growth concept. The concept of fracture tortuosity was introduced to account for a nonplanar near-wellbore fracture path. Although this term is not scientifically defined, its use is very widespread in fracturing literature and generally means any wellbore effect that complicates the near-wellCopyright 2003 Society of Petroleum Engineers This is paper SPE 80992. Distinguished Author Series articles are general, descriptive representations that summarize the state of the art in an area of technology by describing recent developments for readers who are not specialists in the topics discussed. Written by individuals recognized as experts in the area, these articles provide key references to more definitive work and present specific details only to illustrate the technology. Purpose: to inform the general readership of recent advances in various areas of petroleum engineering.

bore creation and extension of the fracture. The focus of most existing papers is more on recognition of the problem than on the underlying cause. The general approach has been to relate tortuosity to near-wellbore events and conditions. Most literature refers to two specific causes for tortuosity: near-wellbore change in fracture direction and initiation of multiple fractures by use of perforations. Mahrer et al.6 give a comprehensive account of events and publications leading to the current industry understanding and history of tortuosity. Aud et al.7 attribute most screenouts to near-wellbore events most likely caused by tortuosity. Cleary et al.8 provide a description of some of the events that can cause tortuosity. Weijers et al.9 consider natural fracturing as the main cause of multiple fracturing. Shlyapobersky and Chudnovsky10 attributes the complex fracture behavior to the presence of a near-tip “process zone” that increases the dissipation of energy during hydraulic fracturing. In this paper, the concept of off-balance fracture growth is introduced and used to show how it dominates the growth pattern of a large majority of hydraulic fractures, both near the wellbore and away from it. Two distinct fracture characteristics are defined and described. These are multiple fracturing (a near-wellbore effect caused mainly by well-completion details) and branching and shear fracturing (which exist within the main body of the fracture and control its global growth pattern). Off-balance growth occurs everywhere along the fracture and is not restricted to the near-wellbore region. Its consequences are very narrow fracture widths, short fracture lengths (created and propped), severe branching, high pressure drops along the fracture, and preferential fluid and proppant movement dominated by shear fractures. Fundamental Fracturing Concepts Fractures in rocks are created by any one or a combination of three mechanisms: opening, sliding-mode, and tearingmode fractures.11 Tensile Fractures. In this mode, the stress creating the fracture is tensile and separates the two faces of the fracture (Fig. 1a). Because rocks are particularly weak in tension, this type of fracture usually requires the least amount of force and energy for its creation. Tensile fracturing is the dominant mechanism in hydraulic fracturing. The main resistance to fracturing comes from the least insitu principal stress, σmin. Fracture opening (width) is the result of compression of the formation adjacent to it. Thus, higher incremental pressures (fluid pressure inside the fracture minus the least in-situ principal stress) create wider fractures. Fracture width is also directly proportional to its length and height and related to formation


APRIL 2003

The more common occurrences of sliding shear fractures are along existing natural fractures and planes of weakness in the formation (i. . and σmin=least in-situ principal stress. in which the two faces of the fracture twist away from each other (Fig. Without proppant. Multiple fracturing is the result of well-completion design (e. Fracture Branching. . 1b). . Figs. 1d and 1e show the two opposite faces of the fracture separated from each other with a gap. A branch of a fracture may. or radius) through the equation: ω=κ (1−ν2). . In this paper. Fracture opening (width). it is easier to influence multiple fractures than branching. The latter two situations will be discussed in more detail later. . have its own branches. height. . The force requirement for creation of the fracture is: Apf.(1) in which Af =fracture area perpendicular to the least insitu principal stress.mechanical properties. such that they gradually grow out of each other’s influence zone while branches of a fracture are always within its influence zone. . Most fracturing models are based on tensile fracturing. branching is caused mainly by formation characteristics and treatment parameters. . and fluid pressure. The basic .g. because the shear strength of rock is greater than its tensile strength.g. borehole inclination. . . In general. As more fluid is pumped into the fracture. Mixed-Mode Fractures. during the fracture reorientation process. Although the shear strength of the formation along the shear fracture plane is zero (already fractured). where pf and l are at equilibrium (Fig. .g.pf=Af. . 2). or occasionally elliptical) that extends progressively away from the wellbore.. and it exists in a single plane and grows in an orderly and predictable manner. whereas branching is controlled mostly by formation properties. . pf =constant pressure equivalent of pressure in the fracture. Each of the multiple fractures has its own off-balance growth pattern.. . . .) and details of the treatment (e. However. . Tearing-Mode Fractures. .(2) tearing action does not create a gap between the two faces of the fracture and does not create additional volume. rectangular. . . and usually does. significant differences exist between the two. or elliptical). These fractures are created by combined tensile and shear forces. For example. shear strength is very low). . Fluid distribution into multiple fractures is highly influenced by near-wellbore characteristics. Closure involves reverse sliding of the two fracture faces. Sliding-Mode Fractures. . As more fluid is injected into the fracture. as well as laterally shifted from each other.(pf −σmin)l E in which κ is a constant and depends on fracture shape (e. the difference between fluid pressure pf in the fracture and σmin. . 1c). Some publications have used branching and multiple fracturing interchangeably.σmin. it has no volume. . Failure (fracture) occurs when the two faces of the fracture slide over each other in opposite directions but without separating the faces by forming a gap between them. . . . size. this type of failure is more likely to occur along natural fractures or existing planes of weakness during the fracture reorientation process. Off-Balance Fracture Growth Almost all theoretical developments of hydraulic fracturing are based on an idealized assumption of a single fracture in a plane perpendicular to the least in-situ principal stress with a simple periphery (mostly rectangular. and the fracture becomes larger in its original plane. . APRIL 2003 79 . etc. Apf =pressurized area of the fracture. whereas branches compete for fluid within the same fracture and are somewhat independent of the near-wellbore behavior. The fracture is created by simple tensile stresses. In this type of fracture. shear fracturing requires higher pressure. its pressure will rise until it causes instability and extension of the fracture. its dimensions grow. Again. pf. including the number of perforations connected to each fracture. . . tensile fractures close when pf <σmin. .. resistance to closure comes from frictional forces along the fracture faces. and fracture lateral dimension l (length. . Branching occurs when the fracture propagates along two or more different but connected paths (same as the term “strand” used by Warpinski2). the path of multiple fractures can be divergent. 1—Different fracturing modes. As discussed later. l. . . . Both types of shear fractures do not close as easily as tensile fractures. . . . Such a growth pattern is defined as “balanced.” Consider a hydraulic fracture with the dominant extent. . . . From a practical point of view. the failure mode is a tearing action. . . is related to formation mechanical properties E and ν. . this term refers to separate fractures created at the wellbore. Fracturing occurs when the induced shear stress along a given plane exceeds the shear strength of the rock in that plane (Fig. . . circular. . number.e. The extension path of the fracture is along its Fig. . . injection rate and fluid viscosity). or as a connecting mechanism to join two adjacent fracture branches. Thus. and distribution of perforations. ω. circular.. . or as a mechanism to join two fracture branches. Multiple Fracturing. .

4. and C in Fig.d σmin ω σmin d = ωcos(θ) ω ω Pf θ Fig. therefore. 4—Fracture branching. Point C requires the highest incremental pressure for its next extension and is. 2—Fracture growth along local path of least resistance.R. the resistance to fracturing varies along the tip. the fracture follows its local path of least resistance. 3—Effect of fracture orientation on width. the most likely path is toward Point A. the front face of the fracture has been removed to show details on the other face. Fig. Thus. 3. The tip of a hydraulic fracture spreads over a large area (from tens to several thousand feet). 2a. widest along Path A and narrowest along Path C. the next growth step of the fracture from any point other than Point A will also involve shear failure. The opening of the fracture is also a function of its path. one shear failure leads to a progression of other shear failures. In a homogeneous and isotropic material. A fracture grows wherever and whenever the induced stresses exceed the corresponding strength of the formation. Fig. therefore. 5. 2a. Warpinski) 80 APRIL 2003 . Point A in this example is perpendicular to the least in-situ principal stress and in purely opening mode. Each of these paths will have a new and different pressure for onset of its next instability. which can lead to creation of many interdependent branches along its tip. 5—Branching caused by discrete fracture growth. as shown by Points A. Furthermore. The dyed fracturing fluid helps to identify extension sequence Fig.3 In this experiment. It will require the least incremental pressure for its next extension and is. and some of them may link through local small shear fractures. Fracture growth occurs at small. Because of material anisotropy and heterogeneity. Whether the fracture will undergo another extension at Point C will depend on whether fluid pressure reaches the required value for onset of its next instability. the least stable of these paths. At each local extension increment. An example of this situation is shown in Fig. the most stable. Paths B or C in Fig. (Courtesy of N. But material weaknesses such as natural fractures can change this path: for example. as shown in Fig. local path of least resistance and depends on the state of stress. B. and in a different path than the original path. discrete local steps and randomly moves along its tip. Failure along any path other than Path A will involve shear. as shown graphically in Fig. as well as the strength of the formation at its tip. 2b. Fig. These branches can be very close to each other. which result in a rugged and discontinuous fracture plane.

8 the breakdown pressure of each perforation is as related to its own characteristics as it is to its alignment with the preferred fracture direction. Borehole Inclination With Respect to Principal Stresses. even though adjacent to each other.12 through differences in color intensity. As noted by Cleary et al. The fracture growth staggers from one part to another in a random and unpredictable manner. an increase in wellbore pressure will cause breakdown of other perforations. it is clear that the width of the fracture at each branch will be quite small. the fracture plane may deviate vertically to link with adjacent perforations. 6 shows a laboratory sample with an inclined hydraulic fracture created from an open hole. Furthermore.. Usually. in cases of multiple fractures. From the above discussion. 2. Measurements of fracture width reported by Warpinski et al. at which point another fracture initiates and begins to accept fluid.pattern. its extension becomes progressively more off balance and creates a network of randomly distributed and propped branches. The fracture in Fig. Abass et al. 6—Branching and shear fracturing in included holes. Closer examination of the fracture shows it to have at least three very close. While these have the same general direction and are linked to the main fracture. once a hydraulic fracture deviates from its natural plane (normal to the σmin direction). Perforation Pattern. or combinations of these. a very short distance also separates them from each other. as well as increases the probability of successful completion of the treatment. Thus.3 confirm this conclusion. This situation is quite common in the industry. the limited continuity of each branch will result in a small value of l (lateral branch extent). but they are not easily visible in the photograph. and that the main branch connected to the fracture tip is the youngest. all branches are within each other’s influence zone. Inclined boreholes also are likely to create multiple fractures. Fig. Thus. For example. The darker colors correspond to older fractures and show that. Fig. Larger fluid volumes do not guarantee a longer fracture length. More proppant does not mean longer propped length. creation of width in one fracture may disrupt the alignment between adjacent perforations and their respective fractures. its growth becomes associated with branching and shear fracturing. Multiple fractures may manifest themselves by multiple breakdowns. the term “off balance” is used to describe the fracture growth APRIL 2003 81 . The process continues until enough fractures are created to balance the volume injected into and out of the wellbore. referring to Eq. Reducing or eliminating multiple fractures increases the effective length and productivity of the fracture. multiple fractures are the result of an excessive supply of fluid and occur when the initial fracture is not able to accept the total injected rate. each with its own complex behavior and growth pattern. then branches will tend toward horizontal. If σint is vertical. The capacity of the initial fracture to accept fluid is limited by the number of perforations linked with it. it is possible for some perforations to stop taking fluid after other more preferably oriented perforations break down and provide an easier link to their associated fracture. Because of this closeness. these branches were created at different times. the two sides of the fracture on the opposite sides of the borehole may not be in the same plane.12 It shows extensive shear fracturing and branching. Causes of Off-Balance Growth The following offers some of the more common causes of off-balance growth. The outcome of this process is a fracture created in mixed mode (in varying degrees at different locations) that contains numerous branches. The excess supply of fluid causes the wellbore pressure to rise until it exceeds the formation strength at the next weakest perforations. The nonplanar geometry and presence of shear fracturing and branching exert shear stresses at the fracture tips such that growth is not in simple opening mode and not strictly in the plane perpendicular to σmin. Once a fracture begins to grow off balance. which can be detected on the treatment pressure record. leading to initiation of multiple isolated fractures from the same wellbore. Furthermore. 5 contains many smaller shear fractures. In the above example. If the injection rate is higher than this capacity. Fluid and proppant travel along a very complex path very different from the piston-like motion assumed in many fracturing models. Each of the branches on the left tip of the fracture corresponds to a different spurt in fracture growth and clearly demonstrates its discrete nature. then branching will more likely be vertical or subvertical. increasing the effective value of σmin. if σint is horizontal. The number of perforations linked with each fracture will control the distribution of the injected fluid between them.13 recommend substantially reducing the length of the perforated interval to avoid creating multiple fractures. Multiple Fracturing. Therefore. a fracture may initiate from only one side of the borehole. substantially smaller than computed from any of the existing models. Fracture initiation from a perforated interval can be quite complex. larger branches. The extensive tip of the fracture has many areas that lie within the “fractured zone” and not at its leading edge farthest away from the wellbore.

Screenout results when these alternate paths are insufficient to transmit the injected fluid under allowable fracturing pressures. resulting in a preferential direction for fluid movement and. Fig. The shear fracture in Fig. The complex nature of fracture growth and slurry path result in larger frictional pressure drops along the fracture. Each branch of the fracture will have a different set of dimensions. Width will vary greatly along the fracture and may restrict the proppant entry into very narrow segments of the fracture. Although the fracture width (ω) measured perpendicular to its original direction may stay the same. The pressure increases associated with shear fracturing and branching are more prominent early in the fracturing treat- 82 APRIL 2003 . fluid leakoff constitutes a large percentage of the injected fluid. consequently.Fig. proppant particles can get trapped in the narrow width and cause further decrease in the area open to flow. 8 imposes a minor obstruction to fluid flow. These pockets of unbroken rock “pinch” the fracture width and obstruct movement of the slurry. shear fractures perpendicular to the borehole will have much less effect on the fracture. depending on the relative magnitude of the formation tensile strength along the original fracture plane compared with the shear strength along the plane of weakness. the real fracture opening decreases and may. its width for fluid and proppant flow is reduced to ωcosθ. Fracturing Pressure. extreme vertical dimension of the branches. Fracture length will refer to the farthest point reached by any of the branches. If fracture pressure and dimensions do not create enough leverage to overcome the formation shear strength. in fact. thus causing a pressure increase inside the fracture. Thus. The restriction in fluid flow also creates a pressure difference between branches that may cause further shear fracturing and associated effects on growth pattern. If a propagating hydraulic fracture intersects these. This is not limited to the nearwellbore region and spreads across the entire fracture area. the reorientation process extends to a larger area than the natural fracture and requires additional shear fracturing. Under similar conditions. However. get plugged off with gel residue left behind after fluid leakoff into the formation. Natural Fractures and Planes Of Weakness. width. be insufficient to allow proppant entry into this portion of the fracture. The complex fracture geometry makes application of existing leakoff computations made on the basis of simple fracturing theory (Nolte14 and Lee15) questionable. As θ increases. where θ is the angle between the old and new planes of fracture (Fig. and height take different meanings in off-balance growth. The net effect is development of a dominant flow path along the length of the branches and restriction perpendicular to it. and height means the * Personal communication with N. In fact. Even when the deviation in a fracture plane is very local. 7—Narrow width of shear fracture. which will also be at a higher pressure with the possibility of a similar blockage. when proppant enters the fracture. This situation is exacerbated with proppant. Off-balance fractures have very high ratios of fracture surface area to volume. Warpinski Fluid Leakoff.* It clearly shows that shear fractures are narrower than tensile fractures. all of them different from those of the overall fracture. some of it in intact rock with larger shear strength than the natural fractures. 3). the flow area can be substantially reduced if proppant particles get trapped behind it. and that the width has decreased with increase in the angle θ. thus temporarily deviating from its path. The narrow opening of shear fractures makes fluid movement between adjacent branches more difficult than along each of them. Shear fractures parallel with the borehole will have a bigger effect on proppant distribution than those perpendicular to it. Most formations contain natural fractures and planes of weakness.R. even small natural fractures can create off-balance growth that extends beyond their immediate area. Consequences of Off-Balance Growth Fracture Dimensions. Fig. two points geometrically very near each other in the fracture may have been created at very different times. As the slurry tries to move through the shear fractures. Thus. Preferential Fluid and Proppant Movement. The slurry will have to find an alternate path for flow. then part of the fracture will become dormant unless increases in fluid pressure and fracture growth elsewhere provides the necessary leverage to overcome formation shear strength. Because all of the fluid and proppant has to enter the fracture through perforations. the fracture may extend along the plane of weakness. Narrow fracture widths (more likely caused by shear than by branching near the wellbore) can trap the proppant and form a nucleus that can spread and block an entire part of the fracture. 8—Proppant blockage by shear fractures parallel with borehole. fracture growth. Small branches with narrow width may. their shape and distribution affect treatment execution. in fact. 7 shows a view of tensile fractures joined together by shear fractures in the mine-back experiments at Nevada Test Site. thus creating a de facto barrier in the direction normal to their major growth dimension. The sharp turns in the fracture path are effective for trapping the proppant and preventing its forward movement. This effect also shows that the extending edge of the fracture is not necessarily at its farthest points from the wellbore. Conventional fracture dimensions: length.

Fracture Closure. The complex connection between different parts of the fracture creates an undesirable path for reservoir fluid flow. they can exert sufficient leverage to break the formation under shear with lower pressures. Use of high-viscosity fluids increases the wellbore pressure and the possibility of multiple fractures. This situation can help delay or reduce sand production.17 also cite case histories in support of this approach. some shear fractures will not return to their original position. The dilemma is trying to determine the orientation before performing hydraulic fracturing. Away from the wellbore. Some authors recommend use of high-viscosity fluids to reduce “tortuosity” (Aud et al. Hindering Off-Balance Growth There are two key issues—how to decrease the number of multiple fractures and how to decrease the amount of offbalance growth in each fracture. In these situations.. Some authors recommend the use of high breakdown rates with the intent of reducing near-wellbore “tortuosity. The narrow width of shear fractures and branches can block or hinder proppant movement. several authors have pointed out that creation of multiple fractures is a near certainty. Even when the intent is to create several fractures in different sections of the producing interval. Two main contributors to creation of multiple fractures are fluid pressure inside the wellbore (which is controlled by rate. which results in keeping some of the branches open even without proppant. Screenouts are caused by obstruction to proppant movement to such an extent that the fracturing pressure exceeds the allowable maximum pressure of the treatment. the probability of any particular combination of shear fracturing or branching causing screenout is inversely related to its distance from the wellbore. the closer the obstruction is to the wellbore.8 recommend injection of a small volume proppant slug during the minifracture treatment or the pad stage to clear the path for the main treatment.1 Aud et al. This explanation is much more plausible for the early pressure increase seen in some fracturing treatments than the commonly used reasoning of PerkinsKerns-Nordgren type treatment with limited height. doglegs and deviations from vertical within the pay zone can result in misalignment of the borehole with the principal stresses and cause multiple fractures.) and number and type of perforations along with details of the well completion. the disruption increases the fluid pressure. Another option is to use larger-diameter concentrated perforations.7 and Weijers et al. If the initial number of fractured perforations is insufficient to transmit all the fluid. pressure will increase and cause breakdown of other perforations until a balance is reached between pressure. etc. As pressure increases. multiple fractures and off-balance growth create a short.13. rate. creating new avenues for slurry movement. This pressure drop is why hydraulic fractures very seldom provide the expected theoretical production increase and after-fracture well testing that often indicates the behavior of a well with a small negative skin rather than a fractured well. the earlier and faster the screenout. Therefore.” Weijers et al. A mini- APRIL 2003 83 . volume of each stage. Beneficial Applications of Off-Balance Growth.9 This technique will work if all the perforations are connected to one fracture. The result is large production-pressure drops along the fracture. the terms fracture length and height have different meaning. When fracture dimensions become larger. Whether this will provide the fracture with some intrinsic flow capacity depends on the interconnection of these branches with the dominant path of reservoir fluid flow inside the fracture. It is difficult to explain why the proppant slug will have a different effect on the fracture than the proppant that is pumped during the main treatment. the local flow capacity is also much smaller than computed. Perforation geometry has a bigger effect on control of fluid supply for each of multiple fractures than the injection rate. The probability of multiple fracturing also increases with injection rate. Some authors recommend perforating normal to the σmin direction (Weijers et al. Borehole inclination is another source of multiple fracturing. Stadulis1 extends this approach to include several high-concentration proppant slugs (5 to 12 lbm/gal) separated by small volumes of clean fluid. which in turn increases the local fracture width.9).7 Cleary et al. One application in which off-balance growth may be superior to conventional fracturing is stimulating high-permeability reservoirs. as recommended by Stadulis. Longer perforated intervals increase the probability of multiple fracturing.8 Weijers et al. viscosity. The severest situation occurs during fracturing horizontal holes. Screenout. as discussed earlier. in off-balance growth. the main mechanism for overcoming shear resistance of the formation is fluid pressure. especially well inclination. Increase in fluid pressure means these obstructions have moved closer to the wellbore where the fracture has fewer tips for reactivation. from those in classical theory of balanced fracturing. it increases the frictional pressure caused by slurry flow in the fracture and probability of internal branching.. it is better to keep each perforated interval as short as possible. This distance also affects the time and speed of screenout. and the increase in fluid pressure acts on a smaller area. and proppant concentration. The other aspect of this phenomenon is that closure in its classical form does not take place in off-balance fracturing. fluid viscosity.16 In fact. some of the dormant tips of the fracture can reactivate and extend. and the number of perforations linked to multiple fractures. Closure of shear fractures is more difficult than tensile fractures and requires a larger force.19 Cleary et al. especially if fracture orientation is perpendicular to the borehole direction. The drag force on the proppant caused by high viscosity is useful only if proppant is able to move forward inside the fracture. With short fractures. high-permeability zone around the wellbore that will bypass the damage and provide sufficient conductivity to promote efficient radial fluid flow. namely the ability to change rate. Production Increase. Even in vertical wells.9). This aspect casts some doubt on the validity of the techniques currently used by the industry to define closure stress. The most desirable scheme for perforating is hydrojetting a short slot. Also. Thus. it is best to design the job for maximum flexibility..ment. McDaniel et al.9 and others. Because proppant is distributed inside many small branches. Because of the many unknowns at the start of a fracturing treatment. In the latter case. proppant concentration.

000 ing a larger percentage of the fluid than 3.000 Points A. psi Slurry Rate. possibly Time. JPT short time (2 to 5 minutes). the data show at least 6. come the obstructions created by shear fracturing. psi fracture at this point. and contain many branches and shear fractures. This proppant and helps move it deeper into the fracture.Case History Example 1. At this stage. If the job data indicates off-balance growth. At Point C.000 40 three distinct pressure peaks. indicating multiple 30 F fracturing. The more likely cause of the increase in pressure is pant transport and. The first step in the recommended treatment consists The rapid pressure drop after Point F confirms the earliof determining the fracture reopening pressure. which will result in a shorter fracture length. principal stress 9. 10. min by shear fracturing. This is consistent with the earlier diagnostic. naring techniques of closure stress determination on the basis row. bbl/min APRIL 2003 . computed bottomhole pressure shows an instantaneous Higher fluid viscosity increases the drag force on the increase as soon as the proppant enters the fracture. 9—Minifracture chart for Example 1. The large pressure drop after Point C indicates initiation of a dominant 2. approach. to re-establish injection failed to produce a positive result. B. Exist. Therefore. The minifracture D 7.proppant distribution inside the fracture is suboptimal uation. are several sharp pressure drops after Point E.000 E data is presented in Fig.other. Closure Stress. it is too late to modify com. The rise and fall in 10 Slurry Rate. the associated changes in rate do fracture treatment provides the first glimpse into the frac. then shear fracturing can take place at lower pressures because it is wise to adjust the treatment accordingly. volumes do not provide a safeguard and may reduce the The surface pressure and rate. shut the well for a few minutes. 9.000 60 84 Surface Pressure. and C. on effective fracture con. with the first and the third tak4. Large pad of larger fracture extent. The increase in drag force also increases marked increase in the rate of pressure increase.Shortly after this point. ductivity. shown as 5.not achieve the production increases estimated from theable with the equipment on location. The At this stage of the treatment. Reasonable determination of closure stress is very critical for on-site analysis of job data and establish. and reinject at the same low rate.000 20 the second.relatively constant pressure between Points A and B indipletion details for this treatment. The of after-fracture pressure falloff data do not help in this sit. The completion of the next well in the same formation. the two events may not be connected to each is difficult to determine the net effect of viscosity on prop. industrial hydraulic fractures do tice is to break down the formation at the lowest rate allow. in particular. effective fracture. The recommended prac. pump fluid for a very oretical computations. fracture (Point I) indicates easing of fluid movement due The maximum treatment rate can be established by this to better linkage between more branches.not allow confident interpretation of their cause. The treatment consisted of C two back-to-back minifractures followed 8. Although there Fig. and attempts cosity fluids (10 to 50 cp) will yield a more conductive. bbl/min 1. the main fracture treatment.Conclusions ing the occurrence and extent of off-balance growth. and it is recommended cates steady fracture growth (which includes consistent that notes be made of the results for use in designing the branching and shear fracturing) during this period. The simplest way to determine σmin is to estimate it and not suited for generation of sustained high well profrom fracture reopening pressure. Although the fluid pressure inside the fracture and causes more this pressure change appears to be related to proppant conbranching. It seems reasonable to expect that moderate-vis. ture. one should be prepared for possible screenout. together with computed propped length of the fracture (and may increase cost).that one of the multiple fractures may have screened out. thus relieving the fluid rate and observing fluid-pressure variations. This deter.000 Tubing Pressure. be increased gradually to observe its effect on computed The initial pressure decrease during the second mini(or preferably measured) bottomhole treatment pressure.000 B 50 by the main treatment. The frictional resistance of shear fractures is mination can be made by injecting at the lowest possible supporting part of the closure force. It centration.ductivities. During the A I first minifracture. the job screened out. The surface and property is more essential for off-balance fractures because bottomhole pressure increase indicates steady growth of proppant has to move inside individual branches with very the blockage to proppant flow. The rate can from providing full support.000 fluid pressure around Points D and E could indicate removal of large-scale 0 0 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 110 obstructions to fracture growth. to create better linkage within the fractures.er diagnostics. The very high pad volume in this job did not help overalbeit shorter.Off-balance growth creates fractures that are short. are presented in Fig. In bottomhole pressure and proppant concentration data for this case. there is a narrow widths. The pressure at which the Nomenclature fracture opens is a reasonable estimate of σmin and is suitAf = fracture area perpendicular to the least in-situ able for future diagnostic work.

Shlyapobersky. Mahrer. Warpinski.” Sandia Report SAND-83-1826 (July 1985).” paper SPE 36441 presented at the 1996 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. and Chudnovsky.” paper SPE 30532 presented at the 1995 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. His publications include many technical papers as well as chapters in several books on hydraulic fracturing. Aud. is President of Daneshy Consultants Intl. 1996) 133.: “Direct Observation of a Sand-Propped Hydraulic Fracture. L. AIME. 2.A.A.000 C 12. Las Vegas. “A Study of Inclined Hydraulic Fractures. and Buddy McDaniel. Columbus.” paper SPE 28492 presented at the 1994 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. 17. New Orleans.A. Rate. et al.” SPEJ. control of excess water produced with oil and gas. lbm/gal Bottomhole Pressure. fracture design.W. and Stegent. Beijing. and Modeling Implications. of Missouri-Rolla.000 BHP. Nevada.” paper SPE 71661 presented at the 2001 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. lbm/gal slurry 3. 18. W. J. 16.000 6.D. He is a recipient of SPE Distinguished Member and Distinguished Service awards.” paper SPE 8297 presented at the 1979 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition. and field execution of treatments.000 16. 5–8 April.” paper SPE 29549 presented at the 1995 SPE Rocky Mountain Regional/Low Permeability Reservoirs Symposium. and PDO Oman.5 lbm/gal 2. SPE.. et al. Abou-Sayed.S.R. Warpinski. psi 4. PTE-3 Final Report.: “Field Implementation of Proppant Slugs to Avoid Premature Screenout of Hydraulic Fractures With Adequate Proppant Con50 centration.000 8. Warpinski.: “Fracture 0 Mechanics in Hydraulic Fracturing” presented at 90 the 33rd U.” paper SPE 39950 presented at the 1998 SPE Rocky Mountain Regional/Low Permeability Reservoirs Symposium. Stadulis. bbl/min BH Prop Conc. (August 1973) 61. 4. H. Trans. and intelligent wells. New Orleans.” paper SPE 21463 presented at the 1990 SPE Eastern Regional Meeting. bbl/min... A. 157–179. Lee. 29–30 May. 7.000 Surface Pressure Slurry Rate.G. McDaniel. 20–22 March. Amsterdam. Prop Conc.: “Simultaneous Propagation of 30 Multiple Hydraulic Fractures—Evidence.A. A.: “The Effect of Viscosity on Near-Wellbore Tortuosity and Premature Screenouts. 281. 30 September–3 October. Ohio.” Sandia Report SAND-81-0225 (May 1981).: “An Interpretation of M-Site Hydraulic Fracturing Diagnostic Results.L.” paper SPE 4852 presented at the 1974 SPE European Spring Meeting.S. 23–26 September.: “Multiple Hydraulic Fracture Stimulation in a Deep Horizontal Tight Gas Well.” paper SPE 25892 presented at the 1993 SPE Rocky Mountain Regional/Low Permeability 40 Reservoirs Symposium. 15. 11. et al. and Meadows.: “The Interface Test Series: An In-Situ Study of Factors Affecting the Containment of Hydraulic Fractures. Robert Langedijk.S.G. B. Denver. et al. B. 7–10 10 November.S. He holds a PhD degree in rock mechanics from the U. K. Daneshy. Santa Fe. 13. and Smith. Daneshy's other areas of technical interest include well completion. D. N. 22–25 October. MeMechan.and Late-Time Fluid Loss During Fracturing. Halliburton Energy Services. M. A.: “A General Analysis of Fracturing Pressure Decline With Application to Three Models. Hedayati.: “Hydraulic Fracture Propagation in the Presence of Planes of Weakness. K.. or.M.: “Proper Use of Proppant Slugs and Viscous Gel Slugs Can Improve Proppant Placement During Hydraulic Fracturing Applications.” paper SPE 64772 pre20 sented at the 2000 International Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition in China. 10—Main fracture chart for Example 1. 19. 3–5 June 1992.R.P .000 14.: “Three-Dimensional Propagation of Hydraulic Fractures Extending From Open Holes” 15th U.W. Daneshy has been involved in hydraulic fracturing for more than 30 years including laboratory and theoretical research.: “New Minifrac Procedure for Simultaneous Determination of Early.18. 31 October–2 November.: “Development of a Completion Design to Control Screenouts Caused by Multiple Near-Wellbore Fractures. Aud. Impact. psi APRIL 2003 85 .” Sandia Report SAND81-2408 (February 1982). Daneshy. W. Denver.: “Far-Field Hydraulic Fracture Geometry: A Changing Paradigm.: “Nonplanar Fracture Propagation From a Horizontal Wellbore: Experimental Study.. Application of Rock Mechanics Symposium Proc. W. length) constant pressure equivalent of pressure in the fracture angle between hydraulic and natural fracture planes constant Poisson’s ratio Maximum in-situ principal stress Intermediate in-situ principal stress least in-situ principal stress fracture width Acknowledgments The author would like to thank Norm Warpinski. Nolte. 3.T.S. 6–9 October. Daneshy. 10. 12–14 April.” SPEFE (December 1986) 571. 12. Abass. S. Nolte. 19. 6. Dallas. et al.W. Weijers. et al. 60 Ali Daneshy. Warpinski. et al. min Fig. 14.” SPEPF (August. J. I. N. Cleary. J..R. Apf = E= l= pf = θ= κ= ν= σmax= σint= σmin= ω= pressurized area of the fracture Young’s modulus fracture lateral extent (height. D. New Mexico. 25–28 September.: “In-Situ Measurement of Hydraulic Fracture Behavior. 5. Denver. A. N. References 1.H.000 A B 10. and Hansen.R.: “Interpretation of Fracturing Pressures. National Committee for Rock Mechanics. Symposium on Rock Mechanics. N. numerical simulation.000 0 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Time. K. Denver.E. 18... N.

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