Numerical Simulation and Experimental Study of Near-Wellbore Fracture Initiation Mechanism on Sandstone Coal Interbedding

Wan, Liming (State Key Laboratory of Petroleum Resources and Prospecting, China University of Petroleum) | Chen, Mian (State Key Laboratory of Petroleum Resources and Prospecting, China University of Petroleum) | Zhang, Fengshou (Department of Geotechnical Engineering, Tongji University) | Wang, Li (China United Coalbed Methane Co., Ltd.) | Chen, Wangang (China United Coalbed Methane Co., Ltd.)



With the development of unconventional oil and gas resources, the technology of commingling production in coal measure has been studied, which requires us to have a better understanding of the fracture near the wellbore in multi-layers. Previous studies mainly focused on the fracture morphology in a single layer and lack of 3D evolution role of microfracture propagation, so the fracture geometry in multi-layers of the coal seam and microfracture initiation near wellbore were studied in this paper.

In this study, the 3D-lattice model was used to simulate the 3D dynamic hydraulic fracture morphology near the wellbore in multi-layered coal based on XSite simulator, and the spiral perforation position was mainly studied. To verify the numerical simulation, the true tri-axial test system was implied for fracturing simulation experiments on the combination of coal, sandstone and limestone outcrops. The perforation position was changed to analyze the fracture morphology near the wellbore. Besides, the 3D scanning technology and the fracturing curve were used to study the fracture characters. As a result, the fracture morphologies near the wellbore in different perforation positions were studied.

The numerical simulation results showed that the microfracture evolution process in spiral perforation can be divided into three stages, (a) Stage 1: the vertical microfracture bands develop along the perforation hole; (b) stage 2: micro-annulus fracture forms around the wellbore; (c) stage 3: fractures break through along the perforation holes perpendicular to the minimum in-situ stress. The cleats and the natural fractures dominated the fracture initiation geometry when perforating in coal. The secondary branch fractures and the stepped fractures were the main characters in coal. Sandstone was a good barrier layer for the coal seam in fracturing, and the fracture in coal was easy to break through the limestone layer. When fracture initiated in coal layer, the fracture near the wellbore was complex with many secondary fractures, and the fracture surface was rough with poor continuity; when initiated in both sandstone and coal layers simultaneously, the main fracture developed quickly in coal and the smooth fracture surface formed near the wellbore.

The results of laboratory experiments were in good agreement with numerical simulation. The 3D evolution role of microfracture near wellbore could give a deep understanding of fracture complexity in near-wellbore area in coal. The experiments considered the actual formation combination, and the results of multi-layer fracturing could give a good guidance for field perforation optimization in the commingling of coal measure strata.