ABSTRACT

Hydraulic fracturing is key to enhancing the productivity of shale and tight hydrocarbon reservoirs, as well as geothermal resources from hot dry rock. Assessing the range and efficiency of hydraulic fracturing is very important for onsite fracturing operations and decision making on subsequent fracturing plans and well-pattern deployment. The idea of injecting fluid mixed with magnetic material into a formation to detect subterranean structure has been considered for a long time. The detectability of the characteristics of propped fractures using magnetic field measurement is discussed and evaluated with an analytical model. The magnetic proppants synthesized with superparamagnetic nanoparticles should be “silent” during injection and could be activated by an external current. By measuring the magnetic field before and after the fracture was created and the magnetic proppants were magnetized, the magnetic anomalies can be obtained. The result indicates that the magnetic field caused by a fracture filled with magnetic proppants is very weak, so that magnetometers with higher precision and resolution should be used to capture such subtle signal. The higher susceptibility contrast of the magnetic nanoparticles is, the stronger external magnetic induction field could be detected. It is suggested that the superparamagnetic nanomaterial with effective magnetic susceptibility contrast of greater than 0.4–0.5 should be used for fracture monitoring in deep wells. To infer the fracture characteristics with the magnetic anomaly, the ground and adjacent wells’ monitoring practices are recommended.

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