3D fracture network formation in tough gas reservoirs: Improving fracture connectivity in heterogen
In unconventional tough gas reservoirs (e.g. tight sandstones or shales) the presence of fractures, either naturally formed or hydraulically induced, is almost always a prerequisite for economically viable hydrocarbon production.
This project will study the formation of fractures in tough gas reservoir rocks (3D fracture geometry and connectivity) using laboratory fracturing experiments combined with 3D visualisation of fracture planes using high-resolution X-ray tomography techniques. The proposed research will focus on the effect of rock heterogeneity on the resultant fracture network, and how permeability evolves during the formation of those fracture networks. In addition, the project aims to determine novel strategies in, e.g., fluid pressure or stress cycling, to optimise the connectivity of the complex fracture networks, and thereby to maximise the hydrocarbon productivity of tough gas reservoir rocks.