Understanding and modeling the interaction between hydraulic fractures and natural fractures is important to predict shale production performance. This paper presents a workflow that incorporates natural fractures, rock properties, and stress regimes to understand fracture behavior during stimulation treatment. The methodology also integrates the predefined discrete fracture network (DFN) and 3D reservoir properties to build a comprehensive hydraulic fracturing model. Heat maps are also generated to help evaluate completion design and well spacing strategies.

Applying the integrated fracture characterization workflow to the study area revealed that the vertical and lateral fracture growth is a function of structural context, stress conditions, and rock mechanical properties. Stimulation parameters, including proppant volume and injection pressures, for one horizontal and six vertical wells were utilized to build a comprehensive fracture network for the study area. The resulting model shows: (a) the stimulation of predefined natural fractures, and (b) the generation of induced fractures in the maximum stress direction associated with re-activation of pre-existing faults and fractures. The modeling results were validated by interwell interference data.


Fractures play an important role in hydrocarbon production from organic-rich shale reservoirs (Gale, et al., 2014). This is evident from the higher than expected production rates typically observed from low-porosity and ultra-low permeability shale rocks. Moreover, many shale outcrops, cores, and image logs show an abundance of natural fractures or fracture traces. This study integrates natural fracture characteristics, directional stresses, and hydraulic fractures to characterize and better comprehend Permian Wolfcamp production performance.

Several factors influence the stimulated rock volume (SRV) geometry during a hydraulic fracturing stimulation treatment. These factors include: structural context, natural fracture networks, rock mechanical properties, lithology, and stress changes associated with tectonic events (Gale et al., 2014; Maity, 2018). Furthermore, natural fracture systems in shales are heterogeneous; they can enhance or reduce formation productivity, augment or diminish rock strength, and may have a tendency to influence hydraulic fracture stimulation (Doe et al., 2013). The flow of stimulation fluid through natural fractures and the generation of hydraulic fractures were modeled in this study.

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