Natural Fracture Characterization in the Wolfcamp Formation at the Hydraulic Fracture Test Site (HFTS), Midland Basin, Texas

Gale, Julia (University of Texas at Austin) | Elliott, Sara (University of Texas at Austin) | Li, John Z. (University of Texas at Austin) | Laubach, Stephen (University of Texas at Austin)



Objectives and Scope: Natural fractures were observed in core and image logs from the Hydraulic Fracture Test Site (HFTS) in Reagan Co., Texas. This paper provides an analysis of these fractures, including their orientation, size, spatial distribution, and openness.

Methods: We measured kinematic aperture sizes of two sets of sealed, opening-mode natural fractures in a slant core taken through a stimulated volume, and we analyzed the population distribution using cumulative frequency plots. For the spatial organization study, in addition to fractures identified in the slant core, we used data from image logs from three nearby horizontal producing wells. The spatial organization of fractures was investigated using our statistical method, Normalized Correlation Count (NCC), and by calculating the Coefficient of Variation, Cv, which is a measure of clustering.

Results: In the slant core 197 Set 1 (NE-SW) fractures are present (154 kinematic apertures measured), and there are 112 Set 2 (WNW-ESE) fractures (62 measured). The aperture-size distribution for Set 1 fractures follows a negative-exponential function, whereas Set 2 fractures follow a weak power-law. Only two fractures, both in Set 1 and ~ 1 mm wide, were open in the subsurface, although many more are now parted, mostly in Set 2. Linear intensity, P10, for measured fractures ≥1 mm wide is 0.01 frac/ft (Set 1) and 0.006 frac/ft (Set 2). Both natural fracture sets in an FMI image log from a nearby well have spatial arrangement patterns of regularly-spaced fractal clusters and Cv greater than 3 (3.22 to 4.05). Fracture cluster widths are 100–200 m, and cluster spacings range from 350–600 m. Fractures in COI image logs in two other wells have lower Cv (1.59 to 2.32). Both sets in the 6U well and Set 1 in the 6M well show elevated intensity along the middle section of the well and NCC indicates broad, but weak non-fractal clustering, likely related to lithological control of fracture growth. In the slant core Upper Wolfcamp Set 1 fractures are indistinguishable from random; Set 2 show a log-periodic clustering but with Cv less than 2.

Significance: Incorporation of Discrete Fracture Networks (DFN's) into hydraulic fracture modeling and reservoir simulation requires high-quality natural fracture data from image logs and core. This paper provides such data and provides information on natural-hydraulic fracture interaction at the HFTS site.