Despite the wide application of hydraulic fracturing in enhanced geothermal system (EGS)
development and unconventional hydrocarbon production, our understanding of the many factors affecting the propagation of hydraulic fractures has relied on circumstantial evidence. This is partly due to the scarcity of direct observations in the subsurface. The EGS Collab project attempts to address this issue in the context of EGS research by performing intermediate-scale (~10 m) hydraulic stimulation experiments in a thoroughly characterized and heavily instrumented underground testbed. This paper analyzes the data collected from the first suite of hydraulic fracturing tests in this testbed, consisting of seven stimulation episodes. High-quality microseismic data delineate five planar features very clearly. Combining fracture-wellbore intersection observations from distributed temperature sensing (DTS) and visual observations from an open-hole well, as well as prior in situ stress measurements, we conclude with high certainty that the four larger planes were hydraulic fractures. The growth of the hydraulic fractures was temporarily halted by a prominent, open natural fracture in the testbed but they eventually crossed and slightly reoriented under continued stimulation. Mineral-filled (i.e. healed) natural fractures, though prevalent in the testbed, did not have perceivable effects on hydraulic fracture propagation. The high quality, mutually corroborating datasets allowed conclusions to be drawn with high confidence and attests to the advantage of intermediate-scale experiments in subsurface research.
Published: August 12, 2021
Fu P., M. Schoenball, J. Ajo-Franklin, C. Chai, M. Maceira, J. Morris, and H. Wu, et al. 2021.Close Observation of Hydraulic Fracturing at EGS Collab Experiment 1: Fracture Trajectory, Microseismic Interpretations, and the Role of Natural Fractures.Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 126, no. 7:Article No. e2020JB020840.PNNL-SA-163986.doi:10.1029/2020JB020840