ABSTRACT

Characterization of induced seismicity and associated microseismicity is an important challenge for enhanced oil recovery and development of tight hydrocarbon reservoirs. In particular, accurately correlating hypocenters of induced events to stratigraphic layers plays an important role in understanding the mechanisms of fault activation. Existing methods for estimating focal depth, however, are prone to a high degree of uncertainty. A comprehensive analysis of inferred focal depths is applied to induced events that occurred during completions of horizontal wells targeting the Montney Formation in British Columbia, Canada. Our workflow includes a probabilistic, nonlinear global-search algorithm (NonLinLoc), a hierarchical clustering algorithm for relative relocation (GrowClust), and depth refinement using the recently developed focal-time method. The focal-time method leverages stratigraphic correlations between P-P and P-S reflections to eliminate the need for an explicit velocity model developed specifically for hypocenter depth estimation. We find that this approach is robust in the presence of noisy picks and location errors from epicenters obtained using a global-search algorithm, but it is limited to areas where multicomponent 3D seismic data are available. We have developed a novel method to determine statics corrections to ensure that the passive seismic observations and 3D seismic data share a common datum in areas of moderate to high topography. Our results highlight the importance of transverse faults, which appear to provide permeable pathways for activation of other faults at distances of up to 2 km from hydraulic fracturing operations.

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