This research focuses on how ‘static’ properties of fracture networks can be studied by considering ‘dynamic’ flow simulation, while static properties such as clustering, connectivity, variation in aperture and, of course, anisotropy of fracture networks can be quantified using different geostatistical/data analysis techniques. The flow responses through such networks can be simulated to check if flow simulation can be used as a tool for evaluating its geometry. In order to achieve this, outcrop analogues of fractured reservoirs are converted into permeability structured grids implementing the fracture continuum (FC) concept. These FC models are flow simulated in a streamline simulator, TRACE3D. Results of the first experiment show that rather than the ‘fractal dimension’, the ‘lacunarity parameter’, which quantifies scale-dependent clustering of fractures, is a unique identifier of network geometry and acts as a proxy for fracture connectivity and an indicator of flow behaviour. The FC model further accommodates variability in fracture apertures and, thus, in a second experiment a set of models with a hierarchical aperture distribution was built and tested for their time-of-flight (TOF) and recovery curves, which showed that smaller fractures with narrow apertures do not significantly contribute to flow. In a third experiment considering anisotropy, it was observed that tightly clustered fractures along preferential directions can be identified from anisotropy in flow patterns. The results from these three experiments show that flow patterns in fracture networks can indicate the overall scale-dependent clustering, the anisotropy that arises from such clustering and that narrower fractures do not significantly alter the overall flow behaviour.
Thematic collection: This article is part of the Digitally enabled geoscience workflows: unlocking the power of our data collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/topic/collections/digitally-enabled-geoscience-workflows