Knowledge of the spacing of fractures in reservoir rocks (i.e., the distance between parallel fractures in a subsurface joint set) can lead to a better understanding of the production characteristics of a reservoir and serve to quantify the relative degree of deformation in subsurface rocks. In this paper, I present a new method for estimating the spacing of subsurface fractures; this new method is easy to use from the standpoint of both data collection and data analysis.

The average fracture spacing method can be applied with boreholes of any orientation relative to a fracture set. The method is especially powerful when it is used for the relatively common case of a borehole nearly parallel to a fracture set (e.g., vertical borehole intersecting vertical fractures). Average fracture spacing is estimated from an analytical solution based on observed borehole-fracture intersections and observed fracture porosity; the only data required are the dimensions of the core (or imaged borehole) and the total height of all sampled fractures.

Because the likelihood of intersecting fractures increases when a well is deviated perpendicular to the fractures of a set, fracture reservoirs commonly are candidates for deviated boreholes. An informed decision on borehole deviation requires predicting the fracture intersection frequency as a function of both deviation magnitude and direction. A new method, based on probabilities of borehole-fracture intersections, uses spacing and height data from subsurface joint-like fractures and the borehole diameter to predict fracture intersection frequencies for all possible well deviations. Fracture intersection frequency solutions are presented with respect to a conventional geographic reference frame, thus simplifying even the most complex three-dimentional situations.

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