A Semi-Analytic Solution for Flow in Finite-Conductivity Vertical Fractures Using Fractal Theory



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The exploitation of unconventional reservoirs goes hand in hand with the practice of hydraulic fracturing and, with an ever increasing demand in energy, this practice is set to experience significant growth in the coming years. Sophisticated analytic models are needed to accurately describe fluid flow in a hydraulic fracture and the problem has been approached from different directions in the past 3 decades - starting with the use of line-source functions for the infinite conductivity case, followed by the application of Laplace Transforms and the Boundary-Element Method for the finite-conductivity case. This topic remains an active area of research and, for the more complicated physical scenarios such as multiple transverse fractures in ultra-tight reservoirs, answers are presently being sought.

Fractal theory has been successfully applied to pressure transient testing, albeit with an emphasis on the effects of natural fractures in pressure-rate behavior. In this work, we begin by performing a rigorous analytical and numerical study of the Fractal Diffusivity Equation and we show that it is more fundamental than the classic linear and radial diffusivity equations. Subsequently, we combine the Fractal Diffusivity Equation with the Trilinear Flow Model, culminating in a new semi-analytic solution for flow in a finite-conductivity vertical fracture which we name the "Fractal-Fracture Solution". This new solution is instantaneous and has an overall accuracy of 99.7%, thus making it comparable to the Trilinear Pseudoradial Solution for practical purposes. It may be used for pressure transient testing and reservoir characterization of hydrocarbon reservoirs being produced by a vertically fractured well. Additionally, this is the first time that fractal theory is used in fluid flow in porous media to address a problem not related to reservoir heterogeneity. Ultimately, this work is a demonstration of the untapped potential of fractal theory; our approach is very flexible and we believe that the same methodology may be extended to develop new reservoir flow solutions for pressing problems that the industry currently faces.