Abstract

The advent of horizontal drilling technology, combined with multistaged hydraulic fracturing to create a complex fracture network within the relatively impermeable rock mass, has made natural gas production from tight reservoirs economically feasible. Understanding of the generated fracture network properties, such as its spatial distribution, extension, connection, and ability to percolate, plays a significant role in evaluation of the stimulation efficiency, optimizing analytical frac models, and ultimately enhancing completion programs. We have developed a unique approach to understand the influence of fractures on fluid flow and production from impermeable reservoirs and evaluate completion effectiveness. We characterize the microseismicity-derived discrete fracture network in a North American shale-gas reservoir using modified scanline and topology methods. Using concepts of node and branch classification and assessing the number of connections (fracture intersections), the network connectivity is established volumetrically. The zones of permeability enhancement are then identified using the connection per branch and line (CB and CL), tied to percolation thresholds of the fracture system. These zones consist of a primary zone with a high proportion of doubly connected fractures, a secondary zone populated with partially connected fractures, and a tertiary or unstimulated zone dominated by isolated fractures. These divisions are reflected in the deformation that is observed in the reservoir as measured through a cluster-based description of the microseismicity. The primary and secondary zones are considered spanning fracture clusters, and they take part in production, whereas the tertiary zone is recognized as nonspanning fractures, and though it may enhance the bulk permeability of the rock mass, it is unlikely to contribute to reservoir production.

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