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Evolution of Permeability and Induced Seismicity during Reservoir Stimulation; Role of Fluid Pressure and Thermal Transients on Reactivated Fractured Networks

Izadi, Ghazal and Elsworth, Derek
[email protected]

We utilize a continuum model of reservoir behavior subject to coupled THMC (thermal, hydraulic, mechanical and chemical) processes to explore the evolution of stimulation-induced seismicity and of permeability in EGS reservoirs. Our continuum model is capable of accommodating changes in effective stresses that result due to the evolving spatial variations in fluid pressure as well as thermal stress and chemical effects. Discrete penny-shaped fractures (~10-1200m) are seeded within the reservoir volume at prescribed (faults) and random (fractures) orientations and with a Gaussian distribution of lengths and location. Failure is calculated from a continuum model using a Coulomb criterion for friction. Energy release magnitude is utilized to obtain the magnitude-moment relation for induced seismicity by location and with time. This model is applied to a single injector (stimulation) to the proposed Newberry EGS field (USA). We stimulate the reservoir in four zones of differing fracture network properties B, C, D and E (shallow to deep) and at four different depths of 2000, 2500, 2750 and 3000 m. The same network of large fractures (density of 0.003 m-1 and spacing 300 m) is applied in all zones and supplemented by more closely spaced fractures with densities of 0.5 m-1 in the shallow zone B, 0.9 m-1 in the intermediate zones C and D and 0.26 m-1 in the deepest zone E. We show that permeability enhancement is modulated by hydraulic, thermal, and chemical (THMC) processes and that permeability increases by an order of magnitude during stimulation at each depth. For the widely spaced fracture networks, the increase in permeability reaches a smaller radius from the injection point and permeability evolution is slower with time compared to the behavior of the closely spaced fracture network. For seismic events that develop with the stimulation, event magnitude (MS) varies in the range -2 to +1.9 and the largest event size (~1.9) corresponds to the largest fractures (~1200m) within the reservoir. We illustrate that the representation with the highest fracture density generates both the most and the largest seismic events (MS =1.9) within the 21 day stimulation. Rate of hydraulic and thermal transport has a considerable influence on the frequency, location and time of failure and ultimately event rate. Thus the event rate is highest when the fracture network has the largest density (0.9m-1) and is located at depth where the initial stresses are highest (zone D). Apparent from these data is that the closely spaced fracture network with the higher stress regime (at the deeper level) has the largest b-value ~0.74.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90162©2013 Pacific Section AAPG, SPE and SEPM Joint Technical Conference, Monterey, California, April 19-25, 2013