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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Three-dimensional fracture continuum characterization aided by surface time-domain electromagnetics and hydrogeophysical joint inversion—proof-of-concept


Efficient and safe production of hydraulically fractured reservoirs benefits from the prediction of their geometrical attributes. Geophysical methods have the potential to provide data that are sensitive to fracture geometries, alleviating the typically sparse nature of in situ reservoir observations. Moreover, surface-based methods can be logistically and economically attractive since they avoid operational interference with the injection well infrastructure. This contribution investigates the potential of the surface-based time-domain electromagnetic (EM) method. EM methods can play an important role owing to their sensitivity to injection-induced fluid property changes. Two other advantageous factors are the EM signal-enhancing effect of vertical steel-cased wells and the fact that injected proppants can be enhanced to produce a stronger electrical conductivity contrast with the reservoir’s connate fluid. Nevertheless, an optimal fracture characterization will no doubt require the integration of EM and reservoir injection and production data. We hence carry out our investigations within a hydrogeophysical parameter estimation framework where EM data and injection flow rates are combined in a fully coupled way. Given the interdisciplinary nature of coupled hydrogeophysical inverse modeling, we dedicate one section to laying out key aspects in a didactic manner.

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