Coupling Hydraulic Fracturing Propagation and Gas Well Performance for Simulation of Production in Unconventional Shale Gas Reservoirs
Abstract:Hydraulic fracturing combined with horizontal drilling has made it possible to economically produce natural gas from unconventional shale gas reservoirs. An efficient methodology for evaluating hydraulic fracturing operation parameters, such as fluid and proppant properties, injection rates, and wellhead pressure, is essential for the evaluation and efficient design of these processes. Traditional numerical evaluation and optimization approaches are usually based on simulated fracture properties such as the fracture area. In our opinion, a methodology based on simulated production data is better, because production is the goal of hydraulic fracturing and we can calibrate this approach with production data that is already known. This numerical methodology requires a fully-coupled hydraulic fracture propagation and multi-phase flow model.
In this paper, we present a general fully-coupled numerical framework to simulate hydraulic fracturing and post-fracture gas well performance. This three-dimensional, multi-phase simulator focuses on: (1) fracture width increase and fracture propagation that occurs as slurry is injected into the fracture, (2) erosion caused by fracture fluids and leakoff, (3) proppant subsidence and flowback, and (4) multi-phase fluid flow through various-scaled anisotropic natural and man-made fractures. Mathematical and numerical details on how to fully couple the fracture propagation and fluid flow parts are discussed. Hydraulic fracturing and production operation parameters, and properties of the reservoir, fluids, and proppants, are taken into account. The well may be horizontal, vertical, or deviated, as well as open-hole or cemented. The simulator is verified based on benchmarks from the literature and we show its application by simulating fracture network (hydraulic and natural fractures) propagation and production data history matching of a field in China. We also conduct a series of real-data modeling studies with different combinations of hydraulic fracturing parameters and present the methodology to design these operations with feedback of simulated production data. The unified model aids in the optimization of hydraulic fracturing design, operations, and production.