Natural fractures are important storage spaces and fluid-flow channels in tight-oil sandstones. Intraformational open fractures are the major channels for fluid flow in tight-oil sandstones. Small faults may provide fluid-flow channels across different layers. According to analogous outcrops, cores, and borehole image logs, small faults and intraformational open fractures are developed in the tight-oil sandstones of the Upper Triassic Yanchang Formation in the southwestern Ordos Basin, China. Among them, high dip-angle intraformational open fractures are the most abundant. Northeast-southwest–trending fractures are the principal fractures for fluid flow because that is the present-day maximum horizontal compressive stress direction. Combined with production data, horizontal wells, striking normal to or at a large angle relative to the major flow pathways, are beneficial for tight-oil production improvement. Fractures with high dip angles are the main factor that influences initial oil production. Linkage and tip damage zones are more favorable for oil production improvement than wall damage zones. This study provides an example of natural fracture characterization and unravels fracture contributions to reservoir physical properties and oil production of tight-oil sandstones, which could provide a geological basis for oil exploration and development in tight sandstones.

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