Modeling of complex hydraulic fractures in naturally fractured formations




Cao, Meng, Ph. D.

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The formation of complex fracture networks with nonplanar and multistranded shapes, due to the interaction between hydraulic and natural fractures, has been indicated by cores, mine-back experiments, and multiple numerous fracture diagnostic techniques. Having a better understanding of the mechanisms and implications of creating complex fracture networks would be a big step in improving hydrocarbon recovery and geothermal energy in naturally fractured formations. This dissertation presents the development of an integrated fracturing- production/geothermal simulator that can simulate multiple fracture propagation in naturally fractured reservoirs. It provides a new model for the interaction between hydraulic and natural fractures, dynamically distributes fluid and partitions proppant among multiple perforation clusters, simulates fluid flow and heat transfer in the coupled fracture-matrix system in an efficient manner, and speeds up the numerical computation for large-scale problems. This integrated fracturing-production/geothermal simulator enables a very computationally efficient solution by combining the displacement discontinuity method (DDM) for fracture propagation with a general Green’s function solution for fluid flow and heat transfer from the matrix to the fracture since there is no need to discretize the matrix domain. The fracturing model solves stresses and fluid pressure in a fully coupled manner by using DDM for rock deformation and a finite volume method for fluid flow inside fractures. In addition, the fluid distribution and proppant partitioning among multiple perforation clusters are solved dynamically. The production/geothermal simulator computes pressure and temperature using a fully implicit method for the fracture network domain, and solves the reservoir domain by using a semi-analytical solution. A fast, adaptive integral method (AIM) is used to reduce the computational time significantly when solving for the displacement field in a large complex fracture network. The key to the fast Fourier transform (FFT)-based adaptive integral method is the fast matrix-vector multiplication algorithm. The large dense matrix is decomposed into far- field and near-field components. The far-field component is computed by using the uniformly spaced Cartesian grid, and this component provides the foundation to perform discrete fast Fourier transform. The sparse near-field component is calculated by using the grid for fracture elements. Based on the split of the dense matrix into far-field and near- field components, FFT is applied to accelerate the multiplication of matrix and vector since no dense matrices are used. Finally, the new model is applied to two separate field studies, the Hydraulic Fracturing Test Site #2 (HFTS #2) and the Utah Frontier Observatory for Research in Geothermal Energy (FORGE).


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