Understanding the orientation and connectivity of fracture systems in tight reservoirs is essential to reduce uncertainties in reservoir development and production. However, the actual flow potential of the fractures can be controlled by the present-day stress field. Dilation- and slip tendency analyses can improve fracture permeability evaluations and thus, aid in estimating the hydrocarbon recovery of a field.
This study focuses on a naturally-fractured, relatively tight (matrix permeabilities of 0.01–1 mD) and gas-producing Late Permian (Zechstein) reservoir in the Southern Permian Basin, northern Germany. Fracture data are obtained from resistivity image log data of a 775 m long horizontal well, and show principal NE – SW orientation with main dip angles steeper than 70°. To quantify the potential of those fractures that contribute to the flow within the reservoir, dilation (Td)- and slip (Ts) tendencies are calculated. Two different stress scenarios are defined based on known variations in the orientation of the horizontal stresses between formations below and above the Zechstein salt in an offset field approximately 5 km away.
Results of Td and Ts strongly depend on the strike and dip angle of the fractures, with sub-vertical fractures showing highest potential to dilate while fractures with dip angles of 60° are favorably oriented for slip. Fractures with orientations parallel to the principal horizontal stress have highest slip- and dilation tendencies. Adding this information to the calculation of fracture permeability results in a significant reduction of the calculated flow potential due to the influence of the stress field. Thus, incorporating stress field data helps reducing risks in field development planning.