XFEM-Based CZM for the Simulation of 3D Multiple-Cluster Hydraulic Fracturing in Quasi-Brittle Shale Formations




Haddad, Mahdi
Sepehrnoori, Kamy

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The cohesive zone model (CZM) honors the softening effects and plastic zone at the fracture tip in a quasibrittle rock, e.g., shale,which results in amore precise fracture geometry and pumping pressure compared to those from linear elastic fracture mechanics. Nevertheless, this model, namely the planar CZM, assumes a predefined surface on which the fractures propagate and therefore restricts the fracture propagation direction. Notably, this direction depends on the stress interactions between closely spaced fractures and can be acquired by integrating CZM as the segmental contact interaction model with a fully coupled pore pressure–displacement model based on extended finite element method (XFEM). This integrated model, called XFEM-based CZM, simulates the fracture initiation and propagation along an arbitrary, solution-dependent path. In this work, we modeled a single stage of 3D hydraulic fracturing initiating from three perforation clusters in a single-layer, quasi-brittle shale formation using planar CZM and XFEM-based CZM including slit flow and poroelasticity for fracture and matrix spaces, respectively, in Abaqus. We restricted the XFEM enrichment zones to the stimulation regions as enriching the whole domain leads to extremely high computational expenses and unrealistic fracture growths around sharp edges. Moreover, we validated our numerical technique by comparing the solution for a single fracture with KGD solution and demonstrated several precautionary measures in using XFEM in Abaqus for faster solution convergence, for instance the initial fracture length and mesh refinement. We demonstrated the significance of the injection rate and stress contrast in fracture aperture, injection pressure, and the propagation direction. Moreover, we showed the effect of the stress distribution on fracture propagation direction comparing the triple-cluster fracturing results from planar CZM with those from XFEM-based CZM. We found that the stress shadowing effect of hydraulic fractures on each other can cause these fractures to coalesce, grow parallel, or diverge depending on cluster spacing. We investigated the effect of this arbitrary propagation direction on not only the fractures’ length, aperture, and the required injection pressure, but also the fractures’ connection to the wellbore. This connection can be disrupted due to the near-wellbore fracture closure which may embed proppant grains on the fracture wall or screen out the fracture at early times. Our results verified that the near-wellbore fracture closure strongly depends on the following: (1) the implemented model, planar or XFEM-based CZM; and (2) fracture cluster spacing. Ultimately, we proposed the best fracturing scenario and cluster spacing to maintain the fractures connected to the wellbore.


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