ABSTRACT:

This study presents a new approach to analyzing and visualizing the hydraulic fracture aquifer intersection risk as it has been applied through Australia's Geological and Bioregional Assessment program (Frery et al., 2020; Holland et al., 2020; Lewis et al., 2020). This approach combines probability bounds analysis (PBA) employed for hydraulic fracture risk analysis as detailed in Pandurangan et al. (2018) with spatial data of the basin geology. This new approach provides information of the potential for hydraulic fracture intersection of an overlying aquifer at a basin scale. The benefits of this approach include: rapid calculation, easy to understand results, scalable resolution for the analysis and the ability to handle uncertainty in the ranges and distributions of the input parameters. Results will be presented for the Cooper Basin in South Australia as analyzed in the GBA program showing how the potential of hydraulic fracture aquifer intersection with an overlying confined aquifer varies across the region.

1. Introduction

Hydraulic fracture stimulation is commonly used to increase the productivity of petroleum wells. The technique works by injecting hydraulic fracturing fluid at enough pressure and flow rate to propagate hydraulic fractures into the reservoir. The created fractures effectively increase the permeability of the reservoir and ultimately the production from the well.

Over the last decade, the potential environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing have been the focus of community concern and active investigation across industry, government and academic agencies (Kear and Kasperczyk, 2020). This heightened focus on the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing has led to a number of international inquiries into the potential risks associated with the unconventional gas industry (The Royal Society and The Royal Academy of Engineering, 2012; Cook et al., 2013; Atherton et al., 2014; Council of Canadian Academies, 2014; Hawke, 2014; Wright, 2014; USEPA, 2016; Hatton et al., 2018; Pepper et al., 2018).

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