ABSTRACT

The development of organic‐rich, low‐permeability formations for hydrocarbon production requires the use of unconventional techniques such as multiwell pad drilling of horizontal wells and massive multistage hydraulic‐fracturing stimulations. However, proliferation of these unconventional development methods has been linked to localized cases of fault reactivation during or shortly after hydraulic fracturing. In the Duvernay formation, located in Alberta, Canada, induced seismicity from hydraulic fracturing has occurred on nearly vertical strike‐slip faults that are difficult to detect with conventional seismic exploration methods. In such cases, faults may only be discernible from seismic events with precise and accurate locations, which generally requires dense seismic monitoring arrays deployed near the stimulated wells. In this study, we introduce a new, semiautomated workflow for processing passive seismic data from a dense array and then integrate it with a 3D seismic dataset to characterize seismicity clusters related to hydraulic fracturing and pre‐existing faults. The reactivated faults inferred from the distribution of the microseismic events directly overlie a system of incised, middle Devonian channels below the Duvernay formation observed in time slices extracted from the 3D seismic data. The channel system exhibits a set of lateral offsets, interpreted as ancient strike‐slip fault displacements, the detection of which is further enhanced by use of a similarity attribute calculated from the 3D seismic data. Taken together, integrated interpretation of induced seismicity and 3D seismic data support a model of a regional left‐lateral strike‐slip fault system that was active during the middle Devonian and reactivated in a reverse sense (right‐lateral strike slip) during hydraulic‐fracturing operations.

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