Supercritical CO₂-shale interaction induced natural fracture closure: Implications for scCO₂ hydraulic fracturing in shales
School of Engineering
Multi-stage hydraulic fracturing has been identified as a must to develop shale gas reservoirs by increasing the stimulated reservoir volume (SRV). Supercritical CO₂ (scCO₂) has been studied as an alternating fracturing fluid due to its tendency to solve numerous problems associated with conventional aqueous based hydraulic fracturing such as formation damage, clay swelling, water scarcity and ground water contamination. However, its consequences to the host rock are not well understood. It has been recognized that scCO₂-shale interaction alters the petrophysical properties during the long-term exposure of shale into scCO₂, far little attention has been paid to understand the impact of this process for the short term. Thus, laboratory fracturing experiments using scCO₂ on cubic shale samples (50 × 50 × 50 mm) in true triaxial stress cell (TTSC) were conducted. X-ray computed tomography (CT) imaging and low-pressure N₂ adsorption were also performed to gain a deeper understanding of the fluid-rock interactions on the studied shales at a short-time process. Post-fracturing x-ray CT scans revealed a significant reduction, in the range of 14% to 46%, in the aperture of the natural fractures, indicating towards a possible scCO₂ induced swelling. Mechanical compression test on the sample results in around 12% reduction in the fracture aperture, ruling out the possibility of confining stress being the key factor behind the fracture closure observed during fracturing. scCO₂ soaking and N₂ adsorption experiments showed the narrowing down of the macropores after scCO₂ treatment implying the adsorption swelling as one of the controlling factors for the reduction of fracture aperture. Taken together, our results suggest that scCO₂-shale interactions during the short term process of hydraulic fracturing can contribute to decreasing the conductivity of pathways between matrix and hydraulic fractures and hence adversely affecting the post-fracturing productivity of the rock.
Natural and Built Environments
Sustainability of energy, water, materials and resources