Publication Details

Chong, Z., Yao, Q. & Li, X. (2018). Effect of Joint Geometrical Parameters on Hydraulic Fracture Network Propagation in Naturally Jointed Shale Reservoirs. Geofluids, 2018 1852604-1-1852604-23.


The presence of a significant amount of discontinuous joints results in the inhomogeneous nature of the shale reservoirs. The geometrical parameters of these joints exert effects on the propagation of a hydraulic fracture network in the hydraulic fracturing process. Therefore, mechanisms of fluid injection-induced fracture initiation and propagation in jointed reservoirs should be well understood to unleash the full potential of hydraulic fracturing. In this paper, a coupled hydromechanical model based on the discrete element method is developed to explore the effect of the geometrical parameters of the joints on the breakdown pressure, the number and proportion of hydraulic fractures, and the hydraulic fracture network pattern generated in shale reservoirs. The microparameters of the matrix and joint used in the shale reservoir model are calibrated through the physical experiment. The hydraulic parameters used in the model are validated through comparing the breakdown pressure derived from numerical modeling against that calculated from the theoretical equation. Sensitivity analysis is performed on the geometrical parameters of the joints. Results demonstrate that the HFN pattern resulting from hydraulic fracturing can be roughly divided into four types, i.e., crossing mode, tip-to-tip mode, step path mode, and opening mode. As β (joint orientation with respect to horizontal principal stress in plane) increases from 0° to 15° or 30°, the hydraulic fracture network pattern changes from tip-to-tip mode to crossing mode, followed by a gradual decrease in the breakdown pressure and the number of cracks. In this case, the hydraulic fracture network pattern is controlled by both y (joint step angle) and β. When β is 45° or 60°, the crossing mode gains dominance, and the breakdown pressure and the number of cracks reach the lowest level. In this case, the HFN pattern is essentially dependent on β and d (joint spacing). As β reaches 75° or 90°, the step path mode is ubiquitous in all shale reservoirs, and the breakdown pressure and the number of the cracks both increase. In this case, β has a direct effect on the HFN pattern. In shale reservoirs with the same β, either decrease in k (joint persistency) and e (joint aperture) or increase in d leads to the increase in the breakdown pressure and the number of cracks. It is also found that changes in d and e result in the variation in the proportion of different types of hydraulic fractures. The opening mode of the hydraulic fracture network pattern is observed when e increases to 1.2 x 10−2 m.



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