- Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Fracture network engineering (FNE) involves the design, analysis, modeling, and monitoring of infield activities aimed at enhancing or minimizing rock mass disturbance. FNE relies specifically on advanced techniques to model fractured rock masses and correlate microseismic (MS) field observations with simulated microseismicity generated from these models. Hydrofracture stimulation is an example where FNE is playing a role, with hydraulic treatments now being widely used to optimize production volumes and extraction rates in petroleum reservoirs, enhanced geothermal systems, and preconditioning operations in caving mines. MS monitoring is now becoming a standard tool for evaluating the geometry and evolution of the fracture network induced during a given treatment, principally by source locating MS hypocenters and visualizing these with respect to the treatment volume and infrastructure. The integrated use of synthetic rock mass (SRM) modeling of the hydrofracturing with enhanced microseismic analysis (EMA) within FNE provides a feedback loop in which SRM is enhanced and constrained by the information provided by the MS data. This improves interpretation via direct observation of the micromechanics within the distinct element models used. Recent developments in both SRM and EMA technologies are described using case studies of the techniques applied to hydrofracture stimulations. We identify and discuss some future developmental challenges these technologies face, including their further integration and validation so as to provide more efficient and robust application of the FNE approach.