Numerical investigation of the effect of partially propped fracture closure on gas production in fractured shale reservoirs

Xia Yan, Zhaoqin Huang, Qi Zhang, Dongyan Fan, Jun Yao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Nonuniform proppant distribution is fairly common in hydraulic fractures, and different closure behaviors of the propped and unpropped fractures have been observed in lots of physical experiments. However, the modeling of partially propped fracture closure is rarely performed, and its effect on gas production is not well understood as a result of previous studies. In this paper, a fully coupled fluid flow and geomechanics model is developed to simulate partially propped fracture closure, and to examine its effect on gas production in fractured shale reservoirs. Specifically, an efficient hybrid model, which consists of a single porosity model, a multiple porosity model and the embedded discrete fracture model (EDFM), is adopted to model the hydro-mechanical coupling process in fractured shale reservoirs. In flow equations, the Klinkenberg effect is considered in gas apparent permeability, and adsorption/desorption is treated as an additional source term. In the geomechanical domain, the closure behaviors of propped and unpropped fractures are described through two different constitutive models. Then, a stabilized extended finite element method (XFEM) iterative formulation, which is based on the polynomial pressure projection (PPP) technique, is developed to simulate a partially propped fracture closure with the consideration of displacement discontinuity at the fracture interfaces. After that, the sequential implicit method is applied to solve the coupled problem, in which the finite volume method (FVM) and stabilized XFEM are applied to discretize the flow and geomechanics equations, respectively. Finally, the proposed method is validated through some numerical examples, and then it is further used to study the effect of partially propped fracture closures on gas production in 3D fractured shale reservoir simulation models. This work will contribute to a better understanding of the dynamic behaviors of fractured shale reservoirs during gas production, and will provide more realistic production forecasts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5339
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Embedded Discrete Fracture Model
  • Extended Finite Element Method
  • Fractured shale reservoir
  • Hydro-mechanical coupling
  • Nonuniform proppant distribution
  • Partially propped fracture closure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Control and Optimization
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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