Fracture Propagation, Fluid Flow, and Geomechanics of Water-Based Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale Gas Systems and Electromagnetic Geophysical Monitoring of Fluid Migration
- Author(s): Kim, Jihoon;
- Um, Evan;
- Moridis, George
- et al.
We investigate fracture propagation induced by hydraulic fracturing with water injection, using numerical simulation. For rigorous, full 3D modeling, we employ a numerical method that can model failure resulting from tensile and shear stresses, dynamic nonlinear permeability, leak-off in all directions, and thermo-poro-mechanical effects with the double porosity approach. Our numerical results indicate that fracture propagation is not the same as propagation of the water front, because fracturing is governed by geomechanics, whereas water saturation is determined by fluid flow. At early times, the water saturation front is almost identical to the fracture tip, suggesting that the fracture is mostly filled with injected water. However, at late times, advance of the water front is retarded compared to fracture propagation, yielding a significant gap between the water front and the fracture top, which is filled with reservoir gas. We also find considerable leak-off of water to the reservoir. The inconsistency between the fracture volume and the volume of injected water cannot properly calculate the fracture length, when it is estimated based on the simple assumption that the fracture is fully saturated with injected water. As an example of flow-geomechanical responses, we identify pressure fluctuation under constant water injection, because hydraulic fracturing is itself a set of many failure processes, in which pressure consistently drops when failure occurs, but fluctuation decreases as the fracture length grows. We also study application of electromagnetic (EM) geophysical methods, because these methods are highly sensitive to changes in porosity and pore-fluid properties due to water injection into gas reservoirs. Employing a 3D finite-element EM geophysical simulator, we evaluate the sensitivity of the crosswell EM method for monitoring fluid movements in shaly reservoirs. For this sensitivity evaluation, reservoir models are generated through the coupled flow-geomechanical simulator and are transformed via a rock-physics model into electrical conductivity models. It is shown that anomalous conductivity distribution in the resulting models is closely related to injected water saturation, but not closely related to newly created unsaturated fractures. Our numerical modeling experiments demonstrate that the crosswell EM method can be highly sensitive to conductivity changes that directly indicate the migration pathways of the injected fluid. Accordingly, the EM method can serve as an effective monitoring tool for distribution of injected fluids (i.e., migration pathways) during hydraulic fracturing operations