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Experimental Investigation of Hydraulic Fracturing Through Perforations

Abbas Ali Daneshy, SPE-AIME, Halliburton Services

The majority of hydraulic fracturing treatments in the oil and gas fields are performed through perforations. These perforations ale usually created by shaped charges, by hydrojets, or occasionally by bullets. They generally penetrate through the casing, through the cement, and several inches into the formation. Each perforation has approximately a cylindrical shape, with a diameter of about % to 1/2 in. Most of the known theoretical and experimental research on hydraulic fracturing has been performed in open holes. The reasons for this are that the openhole situation is easier to handle, and more important, the studies on open holes provide insight into the more complicated problem of fracturing cased holes. This paper appears to be the first known serious examination of hydraulic fracturing through perforations. Because of a lack of knowledge about the stress concentrations around the borehole and the perforations, the studies reported here are mainly experimental and composed of observations of the types, orientations, and breakdown pressures of the induced fractures. The theoretical examination of the problem is limited to the calculation of the stresses around the casing and in the formation. However, the experimental results are quite interesting and shed new light on the influence of perforations on the created hydraulic fractures, at the borehole wall exceeds the tensile strength of the formation. Thus the study of stress distribution around the borehole becomes an integral part of the examination of fracture initiation. Contrary to openhole situations, it is very difficult to derive analytical expressions for the stress distribution around perforated cased holes, mainly because of the complicated geometry. Thus, in examining the fracture initiation in cased holes, the only two alternatives appear to be experimentation or numerical simulation. The results reported here are derived from an experimental approach. The problem of stress distribution around a cased hole (without perforations) has been solved by Satin for the generalized plane stress or plane strain conditions. Fig. 2 compares the stresses around open and cased holes. The symbcls Ul,, uZZ, and US3 denote the three in-situ principal stresses, and uO,, o,,, and u~e are used for the tangential, radial, and shear stress components around the borehole (Fig. 1), The borehole is assumed to be parallel to u,,, The curves in Fig. 2 show that the existence of the casing significantly alters the stresses induced by UI,, uZZ, and U33 around the borehole. When one adds to this the changes caused by the perforations and fluid leak-off, it becomes obvious why the breakdown pressure of perforated cased holes should be considerably ditlerent from that of open holes.

Stress Distribution Around Cased Boreholes

It is generally accepted that hydraulic fractures are created whenever the maximum tensile stress induced I

Experimental Procedure
The experiments reported here were all conducted

In this study it was found that breakdown pressures of hydraulic fractures decrease as the number of perforations increases. The existence of the casing and the perforations seems to have little influence on the direction of the created fracture, which is perpendicular to the least principal stress.
OCTOBER, 1973 1201

in blocks of hydrostone, 6 X 6 X 10 in. The boreholes joined the centers of the two square faces of the sample and were thus 10 in. long. The casings were made of steel and had an inner diameter of 0.238 in. and an outer diameter of 0.312 in. The outer faces of all the casings were knurled. No cementing material was used between the casing and the rock. Instead, the steel casing was placed at the proper position inside the mold and hydrostone was then poured around it to form the specimen, This arrangement was found to give a better bond between the borehole and the casing as opposed to using cement. The perforations were molded inside the sample. Before a sample was hydraulically fractured, it was placed inside a triaxial load cell and pressurized perpendicular to all its external faces. The magnitudes of these pressures were independent of each other but equal on parallel faces. More details of the testing procedure have been discussed in a previous article and will not be elaborated here. The experiments were divided into two groups. Those in the first group were conducted under identical external pressure conditions and were used to study the influence of perforations on breakdown pressures and fracture orientations, The experiments in the second group had similar perforations and were used for examining the effect of various external pressures on the breakdown pressure and the orientation of the induced hydraulic fractures.

Arrangement of the Perforations

The experimental results presented here are based on tests conducted on five samples for each perforation arrangement involved. The breakdown pressures obtained are averages of each five tests. The perforations had a number of characteristics in common. They

were all % in. in diameter and extended % in. into the hydrostone, They were cylindrical, and had no visible fractures around them, They were located symmetrically with respect to the midheight of the casing (Fig. 3). The number and location of these perforations were changed according to 16 different patterns, First, there were two general arrangements: perforations on a straight line or on a helix. There were 12 dtierent arrangements for line perforations and four for helical, The line perforations were drilled either on one line or on two diametrically opposite lines on the casing. The numbers of line perforations used were 10, 6, 5, 3, 2, and 1. The even numbers belong to perforations on two sides of the casing (two lines) (Fig, 3a), whereas the odd numbers indicate perforations on only one line (Fig. 3b). This gave six different types of samples. These perforations were located in the expected fracture plane. Three more types of samples were prepared with one perforation, 30, 60, and 90 away from the expected fracture orientation (Fig. 3b). Finally, the last three types of samples had six line perforations on both sides of the borehole (three on each line) that made 30, 60, and 90 angles with the expected fracture orientation. This resulted in 12 different arrangements for line perforations. Four types of helical perforations were also tested during this research. These were six perforations on only one side of the hole (Fig. 3c), 12 perforations on both sides (six each), 12 on one side, and finally 24 on both sides (12 each).

Vertical Fractures
To study the effect of perforations on breakdown pressures, the three external pressures applied to each sample were fixed at 1,000 psi vertically (parallel to




(E,,v, )

000 000

Casing (EC,VC) .z7?=TYK?z-


/ \\Casing 0.0.= 8.625 in. 1.D.=7.725 Ec= 31 x 10epsi VC=.33 E,= 3 x iOe psi Vr=. 15 Uza=2000 psi in,


w,, = 1000 psi Fig. l-Cross-section

1202 of the borehole with casing,

fig. 2Stress distribution around cased holes and open holes.




the borehole axis) and 500 and 800 psi horizontally (in a plane perpendicular to borehole axis). All perforations were located in the expected fracture planes. The average breakdown pressures for these tests were Open holes 10 perforations on two lines 5 perforations on one line 6 perforations on two lines 3 perforations on one line 2 perforations on two lines 1 perforation on one line = = = = = = = 2,440 4,500 5,010 4,710 5,330 5,090 5,160 psi psi psi psi psi psi psi

hole axis. The results of these tests were as follows. Angle, y (degrees) Sii Perforations Breakdown Pressure (psi)

30 60 90 One Perforation

4,710 4,610 4,270 5,360 5,160 5,450 5,150 5,800

These results show that the existence of the casing greatly affects the breakdown pressures. Even the largest number of perforations (10) had almost double the breakdown pressure of the open hole, Furthermore, these results indicate that with line perforations it is better to perforate both sides of the casing, For example, two perforations on both sides of the casing gave lower breakdown pressure than three on only one side. Also, six perforations on both sides had lower breakdown pressures than five on one side. One important result of these tests is that apparently once the number of perforations per given height of the sample falls below a certain number, the breakdown pressure stays essentially unchanged. (Note the close values for 3, 2, and 1 perforations,) We did not run experiments with more than 10 perforations, since this was felt to be relatively higher than that used in actual field operations, Such information would have academic value, however, since it would indicate at what upper limit the perforated hole will behave like an open hole, In this category all hydraulic fractures started at the perlorations and were vertical, although some of them did not extend through all perforations. Next, we tried to examine the influence of the perforations on the fracture orientation. Two groups of tests were run for this purpose, The angle, y, listed here was measured between the plane of the expected fracture and the plane of the perforations and bore-

30 60 90

q I

*II < @22 Ulj




c b

1 312

Fig. 3--Three arrangements of the perforations on the borehole wall (borehole diameter exaggerated).

The breakdown pressures of the tests on samples with six perforations are scattered, but show a definite increase for y = 90. The tests on one perforation are more conclusive and indicate an increase in the breakdown pressures with increasing y, As for the orientation of these fractures, they were all perpendicular to the direction of the least externally applied pressure. The point of fracture initiation was dillicult to identify since the sample had to be cut through a perforation to see if the fracture extended through it or nog and this was not an easy task. Nevertheless, a number of samples were successfully cut. These showed that for y = O,fractures started from at least one perforation, For y = 300 and 60 some fractures started at the perforations and some dld not. For y = 90, fractures did not intersect the perforations. Therefore, in general, it can be stated that as the perforations further &viate from the expected fracture plane the chances that fractures will initiate from them decreases, Fig, 4 shows a hydraulic fracture that has initiated from the perforations. The sample was cut perpendicularly to the fracture and almost tangentially to the borehole so that it could show both the fracture and the perforations, The darker area indicates how far the fluid has penetrated into the formation. As can be seen, the hydraulic fracture has propagated through all the perforations. This situation was found to be the most prevalent in those samples in which the perforations were in the expected fracture plane. There were a few exceptions, however. Fig. 5 shows a case where the hydraulic fracture did not propagate from both perforations. The section shown in the photograph is perpendicular to the borehole and tangent to a pair of perforations visible in the picture. Although the hydraulic fracture initiated from one perforation, it completely ignored the opposite one. Fig. 6 shows another cross-section perpendicular to the borehole axis. The specimen shown here had only one perforation at y = 60 and the hydraulic fracture inhiated from the corner of it. But the other wing of the fracture does not pass directly through the perforation, One of the most important findings of our research was that hydraulic fractures do not always initiate from the perforations. Fig. 7 shows one such case. The sample had six perforations on two lines.




. . . .

<.. >

(Only three of them can be seen in this picture. The other three are on the other side of the borehole.) They made an angle of 90 with the fracture plane. The hydraulic fracture, as can be seen, has totally ignored the perforations. This photograph also shows how the casing was placed inside the boreholes, Another example of fractures not initiating from perforations can be seen in Fig. 8. The sample shown here has been cut at such an angle that the plane of the cut has intersected the perforations and the fracture, As one can see, the plane of the hydraulic fracture is totally unrelated to the perforations, In general, whether or not the fractures i~tiated from the perforations. depended on the angle, y, between the perforations and the expected fracture plane. For y = O,in a large majority of the cases they did. For y = 30, the fractures of most of the samples extended from perforations on both sides of the hole; for y = 60, they usually extended from only one side and ignored the perforations on the other side (whenever there were any perforations there). For y = 90, the fracture mostly ignored the perforations. The main disadvantage of the line perforation is that either all of them lie in the plane of the fracture or they all do not, To overcome this prGb]em, four types of samples were tested with perforations drilled in a helical configuration. This arrangement assures that at least two perforations are always very close to the fracture plane. The average breakdown pressures of these tests were as follows: 6 perforations 12 perforations 12 perforations 24 perforations on 1 helix (1 side) on 2 helixes (2 sides) on 1 helix (1 side) on 2 helixes (2 sides) = = = = 4,980 psi 4,240 psi 3,680 psi 3,390 psi

Fig, 4-Hydraulic fracture starting lrom the perforations (y = O). .

Fig. 5-!iydraulic fracture starting from one of the perforations and ignoring the other one, y = O (cross-section through a petioration and perpendicular to the borehole axis).

(The vertical distance between the perforations of the third and fourth groups was 0.5 in.) These breakdown pressures indicate that if the fracture orientation is known it is better to perforate the well along a line in the fracture plane than to perforate helically. Six line @orations for y = Ohad a breakdown pressure of 4,710, whereas helical perforations yielded 4,980. Among the ditlerent helical arrangements, the one with the largest number of perforations yielded lower breakdown pressures, The results of the two types of tests with 12 perforations show that when helical perforations are drilled on only one side of the borehole axis, they yield lower breakdown pressures. This result is diflerent, therefore, from the corresponding one for line perforations.

Horizontal Fractures
All the samples tested for the study of horizontal fractures had 24 perforations on both sides of the borehole axis, The fracture types and the breakdown pressures were examined against open-hole tests. The results are listed in Table 1. Each entry represents only one test. A study of the stress distribution around open holes shows that it is very likely that horizontal fractures may begin as vertical and then reorient themselves to become horizontal. Experiments, including some conducted by Haimsons confirm this point. The same thing was found to be true for perforated holes, Table

Fig. %Hydraulic fracture starting from one perforation, y = 60 (cross-section through a perforation and perpendicular to the borehole axis), 1204



PRESSURES AND FRACTURE nPES Breakdown Pressure (psi)





AND u],


Open hole Perforated Perforated* Open hole Perforated Perforated * Open hole Perforated Perforated Perforated Perforated Perforated Perforated Perforated Perforated
+In these tests,

500 500 500 1,500 1,500 1,500 2,500 2,500

1,500 1,500 1,500 1,500 l,WO 1,500 1,500
2,000. psi fluid pressure



1,000 l,oaa 2,000 2,0ao 2,000 3,000 3,000

2,00a 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,0aa 2,000 2,000

500 500 5oa 500 500 500 500

o 200 3aa 500 1,000 1,500 2,000
the borehole

3,440 2,530 3,900 4,900 4,670 4,730 6,S00

5,350 5,650 4,900 4,920 5,000 5,150 5,200
for 10 minutes before

Fracture Type Initiation Extension Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Vertical Horizontal Vertical Horizontal Vetilcal Vertical Vertical Vertical Vetiical Vertical

Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Horizontal Vertical Vertical
was attempted.

was maintained inside

1 shows that of the 12 experiments through perforations only one fracture began as horizontal. The breakdown pressures of the perforated holes were greater than those of the open holes, Most horizontal fractures began as vertical and then reoriented themselves to become perpendicular to the least principal stress. In two experiments, 2,000 psi fluid pressure was maintained inside the perforated hole before it was fractured. Contra~ to the opinion of some, this was found to have no influence on the fracture orientation. The breakdown pressures, as expected, were lower ior these tests (Table 1). Vertical fractures are usually started by the tangential component of stress on the borehole wall, u,,. Theoretical considerations show m, to be independent of u,,, but rocks seldom behave in the simple manner assumed by theory. To show the influence of ass on the breakdown pressures, a number of tests were run at constant u,, (1,500 psi) and u,, (2,000 psi) with variable U33.Although the breakdown pressures include the stresses developed due to the fluid penetration into the rock, a,, induced this way is a func-

tion of fluid presure only. Thus, a comparison of the breakdown pressures should show the influence of u,,, Fig. 9 shows the variations of the breakdown pressures with u,S for the fixed values of u,, and u,, reported earlier. As it can be seen, except for very small values of U,3,the breakdown pressure increases as U8~ increases. Further tests are needed to positively verify the high breakdown pressures observed for small U33. Discussion of Experimental Results

And Conclusions
The experimental results discussed in this paper indi-

. /


!; ,.

... ..

r+. . .? .>. .... .,,


,.. , k ~

FIE.7Hydraulic fracture ignoring the perforations, Y = 90 (the photograph shows fracture face with
three perforations on the casing wall), ~g. 8-Hyd~aulic fracture ignoring the perforations, y = 90 (In this cross.section, the cut intersects the fracture and the perforations). 1205



the vertical one since between the treatment presstire

5800 .: -. 0 5600 P 622= 2000


A f








Fig, 9-Variations

of the breakdown pressure with u3,.

cate that an important aspect of fracturing through perforations is the increased breakdown pressure. The amount of increase depends on the arrangement and the number of perforations. Of the two general arrangements examined in this research, the helical was found to be considerably superior to line perforations. The reason is that since the direction of the hydraulic fracture is not usually known before fracturing, there is a chance that line perforations may not be in the fracture plane, whereas in a helical arrangement this problem does not exist. It is expected that random perforation of the borehole wall will yield essentially the same behavior as the helical arrangement. It was found that the existence of perforations had little if any influence on the orientation of hydraulic fracture. At times, as reported earlier, hydraulic fractures ignored the perforations completely and initiated on the borehole wall perpendicular to the least lateral principal stress. In these cases, the fracturing fluid entered the perforations and traveled between the formation and the outer wall of the casing before it reached the fracture. If the treatment fluid is mixed with a propping agent, as in most oil indust~ treatments, this fluid path can become the source of many problems, the most important of which is sand-off. Regarding horizontal fractures, it was found that such fractures can begin as vertical and then change to horizontal. In such cases, the vertical fracture will be perpendicular to the intermediate principal stress. This situation raises a very interesting possibility. Suppose u,, is the intermediate principal stress, If the fluid pressure during the treatment, which must be greater than uSS,is also greater than u,,, it becomes possible to extend a horizontal and a vertical fracture together. For example, suppose uSS= 1,000 psi, uZZ = 1,200 psi, and fluid pressure is 1,300 psi, Since the fluid pressure is greater than u,, and u,,, it can keep open and extend both fractures perpendicular to u8S and u,,, This means that under such conditions one may have a horizontal and a vertical fracture propagating simultaneously. The rate of growth of the horizontal fracture will obviously be greater than that of

and ass there exists a larger difference than between the treatment pressure and u,,. Although such cases have been observed in the laboratory, their existence has not yet been investigated in the field, but their occurrence is certainly a possibility worth considering. Although the results of our few experiments on the length of perforations were inconclusive, it seems likely that shorter perforations will have a lower breakdown pressure than longer ones. The reason is that shorter perforations will be closer to the stress concentrations around the borehole and borehols/ perforation intersection. The influence of the diameter of the perforation is mainly on the tensile strength of the formation; the larger the diameter the lower the tensile strength would be. More research is needed before all the questions concerning fracturing of cased holes can be answered, In particular, efforts should be made to perforate laboratory samples by the same methods used in industry. This will allow a comparison between, the various methods and also make the laboratory research more representative of actual conditions.

a = borehole radius b = inner diameter of the casing

EC, v, = constants of the casing material E,, v, = constants of the formation Pc = breakdown pressure of hydraulic fractures y = angle between the fracture plane and the plane formed by line perforations and the borehole axis 6 = angle between u,, and a radial line through the center of the borehole and any point in the formation all, uZ9,uSS= three principal stresses = tangential, radial, and shear stress at UIJe , v.,, U..e any point in the formation Acknowledgments I should like to acknowledge the assistance of David Meadows in conducting the experiments and of Forrest Pittman in building some of the equipment used in the course of this research. I should also like to thank the management of Halliburton Services for permission to publish this paper. References
Around Holes, Pergamon Press, New York (1961) (translated from Russian), 2. Daneshy, A. A.: Study of Inclined Hydraulic Fractures Sot. Pet. Eng. J. (April 1973) 61-68. 3. Haimson, B.: Hydraulic Fracturing in Porous and Non-

1. Savin, G. N,: Stress Concentration

porous Rock and Its Potential for Determining In-situ ~tre;es; PhD thesis, U. of Minnesota, Minneapolis (July

paper (SPE 4333) was presented at SpE.AIME EurOPean SPrinS Meeting, held in London, April 2-3, 1973.63 Copyright 1973 American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineer% Inc. This paper wiil wili cover 1973, be printed in Trarrsactlons volume 255, which