ABSTRACT

In laminated formations, the vertical height growth of a hydraulic fracture can be strongly influenced by the interaction of the fracture tip with the bedding interfaces it crosses. A weak interface may fail in shear and then slip, depending on the strength and frictional properties, the effective vertical stress at the interface, and the net pressure. Shear failure and slippage at the interface can retard the height growth or even stop it completely. A 2D analytical model called the FracT model has been developed that examines the shear slippage along the bedding interface adjacent to the fracture tip and the resulting blunting of the fracture tip at the interface, as well as the stress condition on the face opposite from the hydraulic fracture tip for possible fracture nucleation that leads to fracture crossing. The growth of the shear slippage along the interface with time is coupled with the fluid flow into the permeable interface. A parametric study has been carried out to investigate the key formation parameters that influence the crossing/arrest of the fracture at the bedding interface and the shear slippage and depth of fluid penetration into the interface. The study suggests that the interfacial coefficient of friction and the ratio of the vertical to minimum horizontal stress are two of the most influential parameters governing fracture arrest by a weak interface. For the fracture tip to be arrested at the interface, the vertical stress acting on the interface must be close to the minimum horizontal stress or the interfacial coefficient of friction must be very small. The FracT model has also been integrated into a pseudo-3D-based complex hydraulic fracture model. This quantitative mechanistic model that incorporates a bedding-plane slip-driven mechanism is a necessary step to understand and bridge the characterization (sonic) and monitoring (microseismic) observations.

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