Abstract

The Upper Triassic Yanchang Formation in the Ordos Basin, central China, is a typical sandstone reservoir with an ultra-low permeability. High-angle tectonic fractures and diagenetic fractures, such as near-horizontal bedding fractures, intragranular fractures, and grain-boundary fractures, are abundant. Fractures are major pathways and enhance fluid flow in sandstone reservoirs with ultra-low permeability. Because of their weak lateral continuity and their small apertures under lithostatic pressure, bedding fractures make a relatively small contribution to the overall permeability of reservoirs. As they are both of small size and low permeability, intragranular fractures and grain-boundary fractures mainly improve the connectivity of reservoirs by connecting the matrix pores. High-angle tectonic fractures control the fluid movement in the ultra-low-permeability reservoirs. Under the effect of different successive tectonic stress fields, four assemblages of high-angle tectonic fractures developed in the sandstone reservoirs. Under the present-day stress, differently oriented fractures have different connectivities, apertures, and permeabilities. The northeast–southwest fractures parallel to the maximum principal stress have a good connectivity, large apertures, and a high permeability, forming the dominant flow paths. Knowledge of these paths can be used for optimizing well placement. Because of their sensitivity to pressure, fractures in different directions will show varying apertures as the formation pressure decreases. Therefore, the permeability of the fractures of different orientations and its impact on reservoirs vary at different developmental stages.

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