Abstract

Injection of large amounts of fluid into the subsurface alters the states of pore pressure and stress in the formation, potentially inducing earthquakes. Increase in the seismicity rate after shut‐in is often observed at fluid‐injection operation sites, but mechanistic study of the rate surge has not been investigated thoroughly. Considering full poroelastic coupling of pore pressure and stress, the earthquake occurrence after shut‐in can be driven by two mechanisms: (1) post shut‐in diffusion of pore pressure into distant faults and (2) poroelastic stressing caused by fluid injection. Interactions of these mechanisms can depend on fault geometry, hydraulic and mechanical properties of the formation, and injection operation. In this work, a 2D aerial view of the target reservoir intersected by strike‐slip basement faults is used to evaluate the impact of injection‐induced pressure buildup on seismicity rate surge. A series of sensitivity tests are performed by considering the variation in (1) permeability of the fault zone, (2) locations and the number of faults with respect to the injector, and (3) well operations with time‐dependent injection rates. Lower permeability faults have higher seismicity rates than more permeable faults after shut‐in due to delayed diffusion and poroelastic stressing. Hydraulic barriers, depending on their relative location to injection, can either stabilize or weaken a conductive fault via poroelastic stresses. Gradual reduction of the injection rate minimizes the coulomb stress change and the least seismicity rates are predicted due to slower relaxation of coupling‐induced compression as well as pore‐pressure dissipation.

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