ABSTRACT

We investigate the hydraulic fracturing process by analysis of the associated microseismicity. In part 1, we recognized double-couple and hybrid microseismic events and their fault plane orientations. Critical stress (instability) and stress inversion techniques were used to assess fracture activation conditions. In part 2, we apply results from the tensile source model to investigate how activated faults relate to the stress state and geologic setting. We assess potential mechanisms for induced microseismicity including leakoff and diffuse pressurized fracture network flow, stress shadowing adjacent to large parent hydraulic fractures, and crack tip stress perturbations. Data are from the Mississippian Barnett Shale, Texas, and include microseismic events from sequential pumping stages in two adjacent horizontal wells that were recorded in two downhole monitor wells, as well as operations, wellbore-derived stress, and natural fracture data.

Results point to activation of inclined faults whose orientation is dominantly northeast–southwest and vertical north–south faults. The activation stress states for a range of modeling scenarios show stress rotation, decreased mean stress, and increased deviatoric stress. This stress state cannot be explained by sidewall leakoff in the stress shadow region adjacent to hydrofractures, but is consistent with hybrid and shear activation obliquely ahead of pressurized fractures. Information about hydrofracture evolution and operationally related dynamic stress change is obscured by geomechanical heterogeneity that is likely geologic in nature. The most compelling observation is that the most highly misoriented microseismic faults occur in the same vicinity as a carbonate-dominated submarine fan feature that was previously expected to act as a minor fracture barrier.

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