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17.05.2016 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 9/2016

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 9/2016

Numerical Investigation into the Influence of Bedding Plane on Hydraulic Fracture Network Propagation in Shale Formations

Zeitschrift:
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering > Ausgabe 9/2016
Autoren:
Zou Yushi, Ma Xinfang, Zhang Shicheng, Zhou Tong, Li Han

Abstract

Shale formations are often characterized by low matrix permeability and contain numerous bedding planes (BPs) and natural fractures (NFs). Massive hydraulic fracturing is an important technology for the economic development of shale formations in which a large-scale hydraulic fracture network (HFN) is generated for hydrocarbon flow. In this study, HFN propagation is numerically investigated in a horizontally layered and naturally fractured shale formation by using a newly developed complex fracturing model based on the 3D discrete element method. In this model, a succession of continuous horizontal BP interfaces and vertical NFs is explicitly represented and a shale matrix block is considered impermeable, transversely isotropic, and linearly elastic. A series of simulations is performed to illustrate the influence of anisotropy, associated with the presence of BPs, on the HFN propagation geometry in shale formations. Modeling results reveal that the presence of BP interfaces increases the injection pressure during fracturing. HF deflection into a BP interface tends to occur under high strength and elastic anisotropy as well as in low vertical stress anisotropy conditions, which generate a T-shaped or horizontal fracture. Opened BP interfaces may limit the growth of the fracture upward and downward, resulting in a very low stimulated thickness. However, the opened BP interfaces favor fracture complexity because of the improved connection between HFs and NFs horizontally under moderate vertical stress anisotropy. This study may help predict the HF growth geometry and optimize the fracturing treatment designs in shale formations with complex depositional heterogeneity.

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