ABSTRACT

Electrical responses in the vicinity of energized steel-cased well sources offer significant potential for monitoring induced fractures. However, the high complexity of well-fracture-host models spanning multiple length scales compels analysts to simplify their numerical models due to enormous computational costs. This consequently limits our understanding regarding monitoring capabilities and the limitations of electrical measurements on realistic hydraulically fracturing systems. Here, we use the hierarchical finite element approach to construct geoelectric models in which geometrically complex fractures and steel-cased wells are discretely represented in 3D conducting media without sacrificing the model realism and computation efficiency. We have discovered systematic numerical analyses of the electrical responses to evaluate the influences of borehole material conductivity and the source type as well as the effects of well geometry, conductivity contrast, source location, fracture growth, and fracture propagation. The numerical results indicate that the borehole material property has a strong control on the electrical potentials along the production and monitoring wells. The monopole source located at a steel-cased well results in a current density distribution that decays away from the source location throughout the well length, whereas the dipole source produces a current density that dominates mainly along the dipole length. Moreover, the conductivity contrast between the fractures and host does not change the overall pattern of the electrical potentials but varies its amplitude. The fracture models near different well systems indicate that the well geometry controls the entire distribution of potentials, whereas the characteristics of the voltage difference profiles along the wells before and after fracturing are insensitive to the well geometry and the well in which the source is located. Further, the hydraulic-fracturing models indicate that the voltage differences along the production well before and after fracturing have strong sensitivity to fracture growth and fracture set propagation.

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