Modelling Shale Spontaneous Water Intake Using Semi-Analytical and Numerical Approaches

Mohammadmoradi, P., Kantzas, A.

DOI: 10.1002/cjce.23341
The Canadian Journal of Chemical Engineering, 97(S1), November 2018.


Shale matrix water intake during hydraulic fracturing is considered undesirable due to the high volume of unrestrained water loss; however, it is also rewarding because it can reduce the possibility of groundwater contamination. The water intake also plays a dual role in changing the shale production performance; water imbibition into matrix pores can dramatically reduce the effective permeability and, at the same time, might enhance hydrocarbon production by creating adsorption‐induced micro‐fractures. Quantifying the formation intake capacity and its breadth is the key to optimizing fracturing operation, flowback, and production strategy. This work entails complementary semi‐analytical and numerical analyses and investigates the effects of basic rock and fluid properties, wettability heterogeneity, and pore space connectivity on the shale imbibition characteristics. We consider a semi‐analytical formulation of the spontaneous water imbibition, together with model results and validations, and try to provide a framework to link the capillary imbibition capacity/rate to lab‐scale observations. The core‐scale measurements provide input for a sensitivity study on the matrix imbibition capacity in six shale plays in North America. The results suggest that rock permeability, hydraulic tortuosity, and initial and residual hydrocarbon saturations are among the most influential factors on the spontaneous water intake during shut‐in periods. Direct quasi‐static simulations are then conducted through a submicron tomography image of the Eagle Ford shale, and two‐phase pore‐level fluid occupancies are reconstructed during spontaneous and forced imbibition processes. According to the numerical results, the presence of continuous organic matter laminae might lower the destructive effects of water imbibition on the hydrocarbon permeability. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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