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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Development of the T+M coupled flow-geomechanical simulator to describefracture propagation and coupled flow-thermal-geomechanical processes intight/shale gas systems


We developed a hydraulic fracturing simulator by coupling a flow simulator to a geomechanics code, namely T+M simulator. Modeling of the vertical fracture development involves continuous updating of the boundary conditions and of the data connectivity, based on the finite element method for geomechanics. The T+M simulator can model the initial fracture development during the hydraulic fracturing operations, after which the domain description changes from single continuum to double or multiple continua in order to rigorously model both flow and geomechanics for fracture-rock matrix systems. The T+H simulator provides two-way coupling between fluid-heat flow and geomechanics, accounting for thermoporomechanics, treats nonlinear permeability and geomechanical moduli explicitly, and dynamically tracks changes in the fracture(s) and in the pore volume. We also fully accounts for leak-off in all directions during hydraulic fracturing. We first validate the T+M simulator, matching numerical solutions with the analytical solutions for poromechanical effects, static fractures, and fracture propagations. Then, from numerical simulation of various cases of the planar fracture propagation, shear failure can limit the vertical fracture propagation of tensile failure, because of leak-off into the reservoirs. Slow injection causes more leak-off, compared with fast injection, when the same amount of fluid is injected. Changes in initial total stress and contributions of shear effective stress to tensile failure can also affect formation of the fractured areas, and the geomechanical responses are still well-posed.

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