In unconventional tough gas reservoirs (e.g. tight sandstones or shales) the presence of fractures, either naturally formed or hydraulically induced, is almost always a prerequisite for hydrocarbon productivity to be economically viable. This project studies the formation of fractures in tough gas reservoir rocks (3D fracture geometry and connectivity) by use of laboratory fracturing experiments combined with 3D visualization of fracture planes using high-resolution X-ray tomography techniques.
The proposed research will particularly focus on the effect of rock heterogeneity on the resultant fracture network, how the permeability evolves during the formation of those fracture networks and what the acoustic characteristics are of the shales during development of 3D fracture networks.
In addition, this project aims to determine novel strategies in e.g. fluid pressure or stress cycling to optimize the connectivity of the complex fracture networks and as such maximize the hydrocarbon productivity of tough gas reservoir rocks.