A comprehensive numerical model for simulating two-phase flow in shale gas reservoirs with complex hydraulic and natural fractures




AlTwaijri, Mohammad Hamad

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Increase in energy demand has played a significant role in the persistent exploitation and exploration of unconventional oil and gas resources. Shale gas reservoirs are one of the major unconventional resources. Advancements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques have been the key to achieve economic rates of production from these shale gas reservoirs. In addition to their ultra-low permeability, shale gas reservoirs are characterized by their complex gas transport mechanisms and complex natural and induced (hydraulic) fracture geometries. Production from shale gas reservoirs is predominantly composed of two-phase flow of gas and water. However, proper modeling of the two-phase behavior as well as incorporating the complex fracture geometries have been a challenge within the industry. Due to the limitation of the local grid refinement (LGR) approach, hydraulic fractures are assumed to be planar (orthogonal), which is an unrealistic assumption. Although more flexible approaches are available, such as the use of unstructured grids, they require significantly high computational powers. In this research, an efficient embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM) is introduced to explicitly model complex fracture geometries. The EDFM approach is capable of explicitly modeling complex fracture geometries without increasing the computational demand. Utilizing EDFM alongside a commercial simulator, a 3D reservoir model is constructed to investigate the effect of complex fracture geometries on the two-phase flow of a shale gas well. In this investigation, varying degrees of hydraulic fracture complexity with 1-set and 2-set natural fractures were tested. The simulation results confirm the importance of properly modeling fracture complexity, highlighting that it plays an integral part in the estimation of gas and water recoveries. In addition, the simulation results hint to the pronounced effect of fracture interference as fracture complexity increases. Finally, variable fracture conductivities and initial water saturation values were analyzed to further assess their effect on the two-phase production behavior of the shale gas well. This study examines the effect of non-orthogonal complex fracture geometry on the two-phase flow of shale gas wells. The work can provide a significant insight toward understanding the extent to which fracture complexity can affect the performance of shale gas wells.


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