Shale Fracture Analysis using the Combined Finite-Discrete Element Method

Monday, 15 December 2014
Zhou Lei, James W Carey, Esteban Rougier, Earl E Knight and Hari Viswanathan, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, United States
Hydraulic fracturing (hydrofrac) is a successful method used to extract oil and gas from highly carbonate rocks like shale. However, challenges exist for industry experts estimate that for a single $10 million dollar lateral wellbore fracking operation, only 10% of the hydrocarbons contained in the rock are extracted. To better understand how to improve hydrofrac recovery efficiencies and to lower its costs, LANL recently funded the Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) project: “Discovery Science of Hydraulic Fracturing: Innovative Working Fluids and Their Interactions with Rocks, Fractures, and Hydrocarbons”. Under the support of this project, the LDRD modeling team is working with the experimental team to understand fracture initiation and propagation in shale rocks. LANL’s hybrid hydro-mechanical (HM) tool, the Hybrid Optimization Software Suite (HOSS), is being used to simulate the complex fracture and fragment processes under a variety of different boundary conditions. HOSS is based on the combined finite-discrete element method (FDEM) and has been proven to be a superior computational tool for multi-fracturing problems. In this work, the comparison of HOSS simulation results to triaxial core flooding experiments will be presented.