skip to main content

Title: Effects of fluid diffusivity on hydraulic fracturing processes using visual analysis
Hydraulic fracturing arises as a method to enhance oil and gas production, and also as a way to recover geothermal energy. It is, therefore, essential to understand how injecting a fluid inside a rock reservoir will affect its surroundings. Hydraulic fracturing processes can be strongly affected by the interaction between two mechanisms: the elastic effects caused by the hydraulic pressure applied inside fractures and the poro-mechanical effects caused by the fluid infiltration inside the porous media (i.e. fluid diffusivity); this, in turn, is affected by the injection rate used. The interaction between poro-elastic mechanisms, particularly the effect of the fluid diffusivity, in the hydraulic fracturing processes is not well-understood and is investigated in this paper. This study aims to experimentally and theoretically comprehend the effects of the injection rate on crack propagation and on pore pressures, when flaws pre-fabricated in prismatic gypsum specimens are hydraulically pressurized. In order to accomplish this, laboratory experiments were performed using two injection rates (2 and 20 ml/min), applied by an apparatus consisting of a pressure enclosure with an impermeable membrane in both faces of the specimen, which allowed one to observe the growth of a fluid front from the pre-fabricated flaws to the unsaturated more » porous media (i.e. rock), before fracturing took place. It was observed that the fracturing pressures and patterns are injection-rate-dependent. This was interpreted to be caused by the different pore pressures that developed in the rock matrix, which resulted from the significantly distinct fluid fronts observed for the two injection rates tested. « less
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
US Rock Mechanics/Geomechanics Symposium
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Carbonate sediments play a prominent role on the global geological stage as they store more than $$60\%$$ 60 % of world’s oil and $$40\%$$ 40 % of world’s gas reserves. Prediction of the deformation and failure of porous carbonates is, therefore, essential to minimise reservoir compaction, fault reactivation, or wellbore instability. This relies on our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the observed inelastic response to fluid injection or deviatoric stress perturbations. Understanding the impact of deformation/failure on the hydraulic properties of the rock is also essential as injection/production rates will be affected. In this work, we present new experimental results from triaxial deformation experiments carried out to elucidate the behaviour of a porous limestone reservoir analogue (Savonnières limestone). Drained triaxial and isotropic compression tests were conducted at five different confining pressures in dry and water-saturated conditions. Stress–strain data and X-ray tomography images of the rock indicate two distinct types of deformation and failure regimes: at low confinement (10 MPa) brittle failure in the form of dilatant shear banding was dominant; whereas at higher confinement compaction bands orthogonal to the maximum principal stress formed. In addition to the pore pressure effect, the presence of water in the pore space significantlymore »weakened the rock, thereby shrinking the yield envelope compared to the dry conditions, and shifted the brittle–ductile transition to lower effective confining pressures (from 35 MPa to 29 MPa). Finally, permeability measurements during deformation show a reduction of an order of magnitude in the ductile regime due to the formation of the compaction bands. These results highlight the importance of considering the role of the saturating fluid in the brittle–ductile response of porous rocks and elucidate some of the microstructural processes taking place during this transition.« less
  2. Hydraulic fracturing can be recognized as an emerging method used in the mining of heat in Enhanced Geothermal Systems as well as in the extraction of oil and gas entrapped within shale formations. While there are several experimental studies focusing on the initiation and propagation of hydraulically-induced fractures under uniaxial and biaxial loading conditions, a very limited number of experimental studies investigate the effect of triaxial loading conditions on fracture initiation and propagation. This study describes an experimental setup, which was designed to allow one to independently apply and control three orthogonal stresses in prismatic granite specimens while simultaneously applying a hydraulic pressure inside pre-fabricated flaws. Moreover, the test setup allows one to observe and subsequently interpret the fracturing processes through visual and acoustic emission (AE) monitoring. The observations obtained in the current study using a triaxial state of stress were interpreted and compared with existing experimental studies that used other states of stress. It was observed that whitening of some grains and high-amplitude AE events occurred where visible cracks eventually developed for the triaxial state of stress investigated. Comparison with previous studies, in which only vertical loads (uniaxial) were applied, shows that the aperture of the hydraulically-induced fractures formore »the triaxial condition is significantly smaller than for the uniaxial loadings and that the coalescence patterns are, in general, stress-state-dependent. In terms of AE data, the total number of AE events in the specimens subject to triaxial stresses were significantly higher than in the tests using uniaxial stresses, even though most of the events (65%) had a relatively low-amplitude (<50dB) in contrast to the uniaxial tests, in which low-amplitude events were typically less than 50%.« less
  3. Evaporative drying from porous media is influenced by wettability and porous structures; altering these parameters impacts capillary effects and hydraulic connectivity, thereby achieving slower or faster evaporation. In this study, water was evaporated from a homogeneous porous column created with ~1165 glass (i.e., hydrophilic) or Teflon (i.e., hydrophobic) 2.38-mm-diameter spheres with an applied heat flux of 1000 W/m2 supplied via a solar simulator; each experiment was replicated five times and lasted seven days. This study investigates the combination of altered wettability on evaporation with an imposed heat flux to drive evaporation, while deploying X-ray imaging to measure evaporation fronts. Initial evaporation rates were faster (i.e., ~1.5 times) in glass than in Teflon. Traditionally, evaporation from porous media is categorized into three periods: constant rate, subsequent falling rate and slower rate period. Due to homogeneous porous structure and similar characteristic pore size (i.e., 0.453 mm), capillary effects were limited, resulting in an insignificant constant evaporation rate period. A sharp decrease in evaporation rate (i.e., falling rate period) was observed, followed by the slower rate period characterized by Fick’s law of diffusion. Teflon samples entered the slower rate period after 70 hours compared to 90 hours in glass, and combined with X-raymore »visualization, implying a lower rate of liquid island formation in the Teflon samples than the glass samples. The evaporative drying front, visualized by X-rays, propagated faster in glass with a final depth (after seven days) of ~30 mm, compared to ~24 mm in Teflon. Permeability was modeled based on the geometry [e.g., 3.163E-9 m2 (Revil, Glover, Pezard, and Zamora model), 3.287E-9 m2 (Critical Path Analysis)] and experimentally measured for both glass (9.5E-10 m2) and Teflon (8.9E-10 m2) samples. Rayleigh numbers (Ra=2380) and Nusselt (Nu=4.1) numbers were calculated for quantifying natural evaporation of water from fully saturated porous media, Bond (Bo=193E-3) and Capillary (Ca=6.203E-8) numbers were calculated and compared with previous studies.« less
  4. Fluids confined in nanopores are ubiquitous in nature and technology. In recent years, the interest in confined fluids has grown, driven by research on unconventional hydrocarbon resources -- shale gas and shale oil, much of which are confined in nanopores. When fluids are confined in nanopores, many of their properties differ from those of the same fluid in the bulk. These properties include density, freezing point, transport coefficients, thermal expansion coefficient, and elastic properties. The elastic moduli of a fluid confined in the pores contribute to the overall elasticity of the fluid-saturated porous medium and determine the speed at which elastic waves traverse through the medium. Wave propagation in fluid-saturated porous media is pivotal for geophysics, as elastic waves are used for characterization of formations and rock samples. In this paper, we present a comprehensive review of experimental works on wave propagation in fluid-saturated nanoporous media, as well as theoretical works focused on calculation of compressibility of fluids in confinement. We discuss models that bridge the gap between experiments and theory, revealing a number of open questions that are both fundamental and applied in nature. While some results were demonstrated both experimentally and theoretically (e.g. the pressure dependence of compressibilitymore »of fluids), others were theoretically predicted, but not verified in experiments (e.g. linear scaling of modulus with the pore size). Therefore, there is a demand for the combined experimental-modeling studies on porous samples with various characteristic pore sizes. The extension of molecular simulation studies from simple model fluids to the more complex molecular fluids is another open area of practical interest.« less
  5. Learning reservoir flow dynamics is of primary importance in creating robust predictive models for reservoir management including hydraulic fracturing processes. Physics-based models are to a certain extent exact, but they entail heavy computational infrastructure for simulating a wide variety of parameters and production scenarios. Reduced-order models offer computational advantages without compromising solution accuracy, especially if they can assimilate large volumes of production data without having to reconstruct the original model (data-driven models). Dynamic mode decomposition (DMD) entails the extraction of relevant spatial structure (modes) based on data (snapshots) that can be used to predict the behavior of reservoir fluid flow in porous media. In this paper, we will further enhance the application of the DMD, by introducing sparse DMD and local DMD. The former is particularly useful when there is a limited number of sparse measurements as in the case of reservoir simulation, and the latter can improve the accuracy of developed DMD models when the process dynamics show a moving boundary behavior like hydraulic fracturing. For demonstration purposes, we first show the methodology applied to (flow only) single- and two-phase reservoir models using the SPE10 benchmark. Both online and offline processes will be used for evaluation. We observe thatmore »we only require a few DMD modes, which are determined by the sparse DMD structure, to capture the behavior of the reservoir models. Then, we applied the local DMDc for creating a proxy for application in a hydraulic fracturing process. We also assessed the trade-offs between problem size and computational time for each reservoir model. The novelty of our method is the application of sparse DMD and local DMDc, which is a data-driven technique for fast and accurate simulations.« less