Objectives: Previous work in the Midland Basin Hydraulic Fracture Test Site project (HFTS1) has shown the value of core recovered from a stimulated volume in providing information on the geometry and extent of hydraulic fractures. This project (HFTS2) is in the Wolfcamp Formation of the Delaware Basin. A slant core through the stimulated volume was acquired above and below a stimulated well and the results of the fracture description are presented here.
Methods: Nine, 3-inch-diameter whole cores from the slant well were examined for fractures prior to slabbing, together with a CT scan of the core. We used criteria developed during the HFTS1 project to identify hydraulic, natural, drilling-induced and core-handling fractures. Material collected from a few fracture faces was cleaned, sieved, and examined under a microscope to look for proppant. Results: A total of 1261 fractures, including 500 hydraulic fractures, were described in 948 feet of core. Hydraulic fractures are not evenly distributed through the cores; they tend to occur in clusters. Many are remarkably planar, smooth, and featureless, while others have twist hackles, steps, plumose, and kinks. Natural, subvertical fractures, mostly less than 1 mm in width, sealed with blocky calcite, are oriented NE-SW (Set 1) and WNW-ESE (Set 2). Two Set 1 fractures have drusy cement on parted faces and were possibly open prior to drilling. A few subvertical sealed fractures with different orientations are also present. Bed-parallel natural fractures, most having fibrous cement (beef), and some showing top-to-north bed-parallel shear are present. Faults with normal/oblique movement were found in one part of the core. Drilling induced and core-handling breaks were identified in all cores, and were also noted to have reactivated some natural fractures.
Significance: The results from this work will allow hydraulic fracture distribution relative to the stimulated well to be assessed. The number of fractures is generally greater than the number of perforations, but these can be compared for different stages and perforation clusters. Surface features provide information about the direction of hydraulic fracture propagation and about segmentation and bifurcation that might increase the number of fracture strands. Reactivation of natural fractures, including bedding-parallel fractures, occurs although the mechanism of parting is mostly unknown.
Interdisciplinary Components: The wider HFTS2 project will make use of this fracture description to improve hydraulic fracture modeling (geomechanics and engineering), to help explain pressure depletion and fiber optics observations (reservoir depletion and frac geometry), to help verify indirect fracture diagnostic techniques such as microseismic monitoring (geophysics), and to help calibrate horizontal well image logs.