Permeability enhancement through hydraulic fracturing: laboratory measurements combining a 3D printed jacket and pore fluid over-pressure

Stephan Gehne, Philip M. Benson

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Abstract

The process of hydraulic fracture is well known in both natural (e.g. veining and mineralisation) and engineered environments (e.g. stimulating tight mudrocks and sandstones to boost their hydraulic properties). Here, we report a method and preliminary data that simulates both tensile fracture and fluid flow at elevated pressures. To achieve this we developed a sample assembly consisting of a cylindrical core drilled with an axial borehole encapsulated in a 3D printed jacket permitting fluid from the borehole to move through the freshly generated tensile fracture to a voluometer. The permeability of Nash Point Shale increases from a pre-fracture value of 10−18 to 10−20 m2 (1 microDarcy, μD to 0.01 μD) to 2 × 10−15 m2 (2 milliDarcy, mD) immediately after fracture (at 2.1 MPa confining pressure). Permeability is strongly dependent on confining pressure, decreasing to 0.25 × 10−15 m2 (0.25 mD) at 19 MPa confining pressure (approximately 800 m depth), and does not recover when confinement is removed. Using concomitant measurements of the radial strain as a proxy for fracture aperture, we conclude that the effective permeability is governed solely by the width of the developed cracks, revealed by post-test X-Ray Computed Tomography to be planar, extending radially from the central conduit.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12573
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2019

Keywords

  • RCUK
  • NERC
  • NE/L009110/1

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