Using Microstructure Observations to Quantify Fracture Properties and Improve Reservoir Simulations


The research for this project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, provides new technology to understand and successfully characterize, predict, and simulate reservoir-scale fractures. Such fractures have worldwide importance because of their influence on successful extraction of resources. For example, many conventional U.S. reservoirs yield about one-third of the oil originally in place, but some estimates suggest that reservoirs with naturally occurring fractures yield only about 10 percent of their reserves. This is a serious technical and financial challenge for producers of reservoirs containing natural fractures. Most fractures are below the limits of seismic resolution or detection and are difficult or impossible to characterize adequately using currently available well test, full-diameter core, or geophysical well log technology; this is because large fractures are intrinsically difficult to sample with conventional wellbore sampling methods owing to their wide spacing. Consequently, fractured reservoirs have been intractable to describe and interpret effectively, impeding accurate reservoir description and simulation. Accurate characterization of reservoir fractures, however, still holds great potential for improving production by increasing the efficiency of exploration and recovery processes.


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