New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting — Abstracts

Evolution of hydraulic fracture permeability in EGS considering natural fracture compressibility and strength of the surrounding rock

Matthew L. McLean1, D. Nicolas Espinoza1 and Bulbul Ahmmed2

1The University of Texas at Austin,
2Los Alamos National Laboratory

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The long-term success of an Enhanced Geothermal System (EGS) project requires distributed fluid flow in created fractures, ideally each with uniform and moderate permeability to avoid early thermal breakthrough. Yet, thermal depletion causes fracture opening, increasing the likelihood of flow channeling in areas with high fracture permeability. Furthermore, the effective reservoir rock stiffness (including natural fracture compliance) has a first-order impact on thermally induced stress changes, and thus fracture permeability. The objective of this work is to explore the role of thermal depletion on hydraulic fracture permeability considering a non-linear elastoplastic geothermal reservoir response. We utilize three-dimensional numerical simulations based on effective medium theory of fractured rocks to implicitly account for natural fracture compressibility and strength. Results demonstrate that a portion of the thermal strain induced by cooling is absorbed by natural fracture compressibility, which reduces the overall stress change, and tends to attenuate hydraulic fracture opening. Critically stressed natural fractures can yield during operation and decrease the likelihood of flow channeling. Lastly, the modeling results indicate that linear elastic models tend to overpredict fracture opening compared to models that account for effective properties of fractured rock masses.


EGS, plasticity, modeling, effective medium

pp. 55

2024 New Mexico Geological Society Annual Spring Meeting
April 19, 2024, Macey Center, Socorro, NM
Online ISSN: 2834-5800