In this work, the effect of fracture network connectivity on hydraulic fracturing effectiveness was investigated using a discrete element numerical model. The simulation results show that natural fracture density can significantly affect hydraulic fracturing effectiveness, which was characterized by the ratio of the stimulated natural fracture area to the hydraulic fracture area, the leakoff ratio, and the synthetic microseismic events. The simulations with a ‘sparse’ DFN showed a flat microseismic distribution zone with few events, while the simulations with a ‘dense’ DFN showed a complex microseismic map indicating an intensive interaction between the created hydraulic fracture and the natural fractures. Parametric studies on the effects of fluid viscosity, flow rate, DFN dilation angle and rock toughness were carried out, which also showed that DFN connectivity should be considered an important parameter in completion design and stimulation optimization. Overall, this work illustrates that fracture network connectivity plays a critical role in hydraulic fracturing effectiveness, which, in-turn, affects treating pressures, the created microseismicity and corresponding stimulated volume, and, ultimately, well production.

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