The role of preexisting fractures and faults during multistage hydraulic fracturing in the Bakken Formation

Interpretation: SEG 2 (3):SG25-SG39 (2014)


We performed an integrated study of multistage hydraulic fracture stimulation of two parallel horizontal wells in the Bakken Formation in the Williston Basin, North Dakota. There are three distinct parts of this study: development of a geomechanical model for the study area, interpretation of multiarray downhole recordings of microseismic events, and interpretation of hydraulic fracturing data in a geomechanical context. We estimated the current stress state to be characterized by an NF/SS regime, with [Formula: see text] oriented approximately [Formula: see text]. The microseismic events were recorded in six vertical observation wells during hydraulic fracturing of parallel wells X and Z with three unusual aspects. First, rather than occurring in proximity to the stages being pressurized, many of the events occurred along the length of well Y, a parallel well located between wells X and Z that had been in production for approximately [Formula: see text] years at the time X and Z were stimulated. Second, relatively few fracturing stages were associated with an elongated cloud of events trending in the direction of [Formula: see text] as was commonly observed during hydraulic fracturing. Instead, the microseismic events in a few stages appeared to trend approximately [Formula: see text], approximately 30° from the direction of [Formula: see text]. Earthquake focal plane mechanisms confirmed slip on faults with this orientation. Finally, the microseismic events were clustered at two distinct depths: one near the depth of the well being pressurized in the Middle Bakken Formation and the other approximately [Formula: see text] above in the Mission Canyon Formation. We proposed that steeply dipping N75°E striking faults with a combination of normal and strike-slip movement were being stimulated during hydraulic fracturing and provided conduits for pore pressure to be transmitted to the overlaying formations. We tested a simple geomechanical analysis to illustrate how this occurred in the context of the stress field, pore pressure, and depletion in the vicinity of well Y.

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