Numerical Investigation of the Hydraulic Fracturing Mechanisms in Oil Sands

  • Author(s) / Creator(s)
  • This paper presents a numerical investigation of hydraulic fracturing in oil sands during cold
    water injection by considering the aspects of both geomechanics and reservoir fluid flow.
    According to previous studies, the low shear strengths of unconsolidated or weakly consolidated
    sandstone reservoirs significantly influence the hydraulic fracturing process. Therefore, classical
    hydraulic fracture models cannot simulate the fracturing process in weak sandstone reservoirs. In
    the current numerical models, the direction of a tensile fracture is predetermined based on in situ
    stress conditions. Additionally, the potential transformation of a shear fracture into a tensile
    fracture and the potential reorientation of a tensile fracture owing to shear banding at the fracture
    tip have not yet been addressed in the literature. In this study, a smeared fracture technique is
    employed to simulate tensile and shear fractures in oil sands. The model used combines many
    important fracture features, which include the matrix flow, poroelasticity and plasticity
    modeling, saturation-dependent permeability, gradual degradation of the oil sands as a result of
    dilative shear deformation, and the tensile fracturing and shear failure that occur with the
    simultaneous enhancement of permeability. Furthermore, sensitivity analyses are also performed
    with respect to the reservoir and geomechanical parameters, including the apparent tensile
    strength and cohesion of the oil sands, magnitude of the minimum and maximum principal stress,
    absolute permeability and elastic modulus of the oil sands and ramp-up time. All these analyses
    are performed to clarify the influences of these parameters on the fracturing response of the oil

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    Article (Draft / Submitted)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International