Pursuing Improved Flowback Recovery after Hydraulic Fracturing

Cai, Yuzhe (Penn State University) | Dahi Taleghani, Arash (Penn State University)

OnePetro 

Abstract

Low injected fracturing fluid recovery has been an issue during flowback period that is highly impacted by the fracture closure behavior. Although existing flowback models consider fracture closure volumetrically, they do not represent the true situation of non-uniform fracture closure. In this paper, we proposed a coupled geomechanics and fluid flow model for early-time flowback in shale oil reservoirs. The fluid flow model is coupled with an elastic fracture closure model through finite element methods. In this study, three stages are modeled: fracture propagation, well shut-in and flowback. Cohesive Zone Method (CZM) has been used for modeling fracture propagation. The presented model distinguished the propped part from the unpropped part of the fracture. At the beginning of flowback, the proppants may not be completely compacted in early shut-in time. Thus, permeability evolution during closure is tracked using a smooth permeability transition function. The numerical results have shown that fracture closure during the flowback period is often not uniform. While the uniform fracture closure leads to maximum fracturing fluid recovery, an aggressive pressure drawdown strategy may damage fracture connectivity to the wellbore. An integrated flowback model enables modelling nonuniform fracture closure in a complex fracture network. This study highlights that by choke/pressure drawdown management, operators can influence fluid recovery and even maintain high fracture conductivity. Furthermore, the methodology presented in the paper can also be used for inverse analysis on early flowback data.