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Keywords:

  • hydraulic fracture;
  • discrete fracture network;
  • explicit coupling;
  • fracture interaction;
  • rock joint;
  • reservoir model

SUMMARY

Modeling hydraulic fracturing in the presence of a natural fracture network is a challenging task, owing to the complex interactions between fluid, rock matrix, and rock interfaces, as well as the interactions between propagating fractures and existing natural interfaces. Understanding these complex interactions through numerical modeling is critical to the design of optimum stimulation strategies. In this paper, we present an explicitly integrated, fully coupled discrete-finite element approach for the simulation of hydraulic fracturing in arbitrary fracture networks. The individual physical processes involved in hydraulic fracturing are identified and addressed as separate modules: a finite element approach for geomechanics in the rock matrix, a finite volume approach for resolving hydrodynamics, a geomechanical joint model for interfacial resolution, and an adaptive remeshing module. The model is verified against the Khristianovich–Geertsma–DeKlerk closed-form solution for the propagation of a single hydraulic fracture and validated against laboratory testing results on the interaction between a propagating hydraulic fracture and an existing fracture. Preliminary results of simulating hydraulic fracturing in a natural fracture system consisting of multiple fractures are also presented. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.