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2003

Session #9

reinjection on the state of stress in geothermal

reservoirs

Pawel Wojnarowski and Adam Rewis

AGH University of Science and Technology,

Faculty of Drilling, Oil and Gas

Mickiewicz30, Mickiewicz Avenue

30-059 Krakow

Email: wojnar@uci.agh.edu.pl

Abstract

During cold water injection into geothermal reservoirs, pore pressure increases and the

reservoir rock is brought closer to fracturing conditions. The fracturing may cause early

cold water breakthrough into production wells. A 2-D reservoir simulator describing

fully coupled fluid flow, thermal flow, and geomechanical behavior was used in this

study. The objective of this work is to investigate the evolution of the stress state in

liquid-dominated reservoirs and to establish how principal stress directions change

during injection pressure increase. The paper describes simulated fracturing pressure

changes due to cold-water injection. It also discusses how to predict orientation/reorientation of hydraulic fracture propagating from an injector.

1 Introduction

The mechanical behavior of a body, i.e. the changes in its dimensions (its

deformation), or in some cases its failure, depends on the external and internal forces

distribution acting on the body. Considering an infinitesimal cube isolated from the

body, it is held in equilibrium by forces imposed on its surfaces. The cube can be

oriented in such a way that only forces normal to its surfaces are present. Under these

conditions there are three pairs of independent forces since the cube is in equilibrium.

The physics of the geomechanical behavior of a geothermal reservoir, and its

mathematical description, are rather complex due to the porous nature of the rock

coupled with fluid flow (multiphase flow) through the pores. The strain concept is

used to describe deformation of a material and it is directly related to displacement

through strain/displacement relations. When modeling deformation of a poro-elastic

medium we use the continuum mechanics (continuous medium) concept, which states

that every infinitesimal sub-volume of the material is occupied by the medium

consisting of solid skeleton and porous space, and its properties (porosity,

permeability, etc.) either vary smoothly from one point to another or are the same

everywhere.

One of the main ideas of the theory is that the stress in a saturated porous

material is 'carried' partially by the pore fluid and partially by the solid matrix. This is

the so-called total stress and it refers to the bulk volume of the rock. The part of the

total stress carried by the solid rock matrix, is called effective stress, and it represents

the actual state of stress in the solid rock grains.

Fluid injection into a reservoir, and production from the formation, perturbs

the local in-situ stress state. The stress can either be altered by changes in pore

pressure, or by temperature perturbations in non-isothermal flow.

S09 Paper026

Page 1

Session #9

increases. Suffciently accurate estimation of reservoir stresses becomes essential in

many geothermal injection production operations when a reservoir is brought closer

to fracturing conditions. This is because induced stress changes may cause formation

fracturing. The fracturing may cause early cold water breakthrough into production

wells. In naturally fractured/stress sensitive reservoirs the state of stress changes cause

opening or closing of existing fractures and permeability variations.

A fully coupled fluid flow, thermal flow, and geomechanical behavior model

incorporates the fluid flow equation with energy conservation and stress equilibrium

equations. Energy balance law was assumed under the following assumptions (Rewis,

1999):

- the only energy transfer to the system is by convective and conductive heat

transfer through the boundary, and mechanical work done by surface traction,

- kinetic energy changes are small compared to those of the internal energy,

- negligible viscous dissipation,

- instantaneous local thermal equilibrium between rock and fluid.

To determine stress variations in the system, the following governing

equations from the theory of poro-thermo-elasticity are used. Computer code is used

to solve the following system of equations (Chen et al., 1995):

G 2 u i + ( G + L )

( T)

P

( u ) + B + ( 2 G + L ) T = 0

i

i

i

P

T

P = c t t

B ( u )

t

t

t

f

k Cf T

P

( T ) f

P +

f

f

(1)

(2)

= ( (1 ) s Cs T + f Cf T ) (3)

t

Where:

u displacement vector, m,

G shear modulus, Pa,

L Lames constant, Pa,

B Biots poroelastic coefficient,

P pressure, Pa,

T coefficient of thermal linear expansion, 1/K,

T temperature, K,

k permeability, m2, mD

f viscosity of fluid, Pas,

ct total isothermal compressibility of reservoir, 1/Pa,

t total isobaric compressibility of reservoir, 1/K,

t time, s,

- thermal conductivity, W/mK,

Cf, Cs heat capacity of fluid and solid, J/kgK

f, s density of fluid and solid, kg/m3,

- porosity, -.

S09 Paper026

i = x, y

Page 2

Session #9

The numerical simulator solves the system of P.D.E. given above in a twodimensional domain, under a plain strain assumption using control-volume finite

difference discretization (Rewis, 1999; Osorio et al., 1999).

The response of a reservoir volume was analyzed to investigate the effects of

temperature changes on stress perturbations during injection of cold water. The plane

strain condition is assumed and also single-phase, slightly compressible fluid flows.

No fluid or heat flow in the vertical direction is allowed. Following these assumptions

pore pressure, temperature, displacement, and the stress field will not change in the

vertical direction and the problem can be solved in 2D. Furthermore, the grid

boundaries coincide with the directions of the initial principal horizontal stresses.

Constant injection rate is specified at the well. Because of symmetry a quarter of the

area is considered and no flow boundary conditions along left and bottom boundary.

Constant pressure along right and top boundary is assumed (see Figure 4).

In the following, we analyze simulation results where we consider a square area of

1000 m by 1000 m, as shown in Figures 4-6. The orientation of the initial principal

stresses coincides with the grid boundary. Because of symmetry a quarter of the area

is considered with the injection well located in the corner. We assume an initial

reservoir pressure of 15 MPa and an initial reservoir temperature of 80C. The

average porosity is assumed 13%. In the simulated cases, three different values of

permeability are used: 250 mD, 500 mD and 1000 mD. Injected water temperature is

assumed to equal 15C.

Figures 1-3 show well pressure changes in time for the cases analyzed. Higher

injection rate requires higher injection pressure, which results in faster and further

growing fracture. Due to lower permeability of rock (250 mD), 140 m3/hr injection

flow rate causes fracturing of rock after 700 days of injection. In 1000 mD

permeability rock, fracture is initiated after 1400 days at 350 m3/hr water rate

injection. Such rock fracturing may result in faster cold front movement towards the

production well.

Water injection induced fracturing is often encountered in cases of tight/low

permeability formations. This type of reservoir is the most stress sensitive reservoir,

where permeability may be expected to be stress dependent.

Figures 4-6 show pressure, temperature and incremental horizontal stress after

1500 days of injection. As expected, the greatest temperature-change occurs in the

near-well region. Cooling of the formation (by the cold injected water) results in

tensile stress development, which overcomes the incremental compressive stresses

resulting from the injection-induced fluid-pressure increase. The cooling effect can

bring the reservoir closer to fracturing conditions. Analysis of the simulation runs

suggests the possibility of local stress reorientation (which depends on the relative

magnitude of the stress perturbations compared to the initial state of stress).

S09 Paper026

Page 3

Session #9

40

50

fracture initiation

fracture initiation

35

Pressure [MPa]

Pressure [MPa]

40

30

Injection Rate 120 m3/hr

Injection Rate 140 m3/hr

20

30

25

Injection Rate 140 m3/hr

Injection Rate 210 m3/hr

20

15

0

10

400

800

Time [days]

1200

1600

400

800

Time [days]

1200

1600

for three different injection rates

and a rock permeability of 500 mD.

three different injection rates and a

rock permeability of 250 mD.

36

fracture initiation

Pressure [MPa]

32

28

24

20

Injection Rate 100 m 3/hr

Injection Rate 140 m 3/hr

Injection Rate 210 m 3/hr

Injection Rate 350 m 3/hr

16

12

0

400

800

Time [days]

1200

1600

three different injection rates and a rock

permeability of 1000 mD.

[C]

[MPa]

1000

1000

28

83

79

27

75

800

71

26

800

25

67

63

59

600

24

600

23

55

22

51

47

400

43

21

400

20

39

19

35

31

200

18

200

27

17

23

16

19

15

200

400

Incremental maximum

horizontal stress [MPa]

1

5

600

800

1000

15

0

200

400

600

800

1000

Incremental minimum

horizontal stress [MPa]

1

5

Figure 4: Pressure, temperature and incremental horizontal stress after 1500 days of

injection for rock permeability of 250 mD and injection rate of 140 m3/hr.

S09 Paper026

Page 4

[MPa]

[C]

1000

Session #9

1000

25

83

79

75

800

71

24

800

23

67

63

59

600

22

600

21

55

51

47

400

43

20

400

19

39

18

35

31

200

200

17

27

23

16

19

0

0

200

400

Incremental maximum

horizontal stress [MPa]

600

800

15

1000

200

400

600

800

1000

15

Incremental minimum

horizontal stress [MPa]

1

5

1

5

Figure 5: Pressure, temperature and incremental horizontal stress after 1500 days of

injection for rock permeability of 500 mD and injection rate of 210 m3/hr.

[MPa]

[C]

1000

1000

24

83

79

75

800

23

800

71

22

67

63

600

59

21

600

55

20

51

47

400

43

19

400

39

18

35

31

200

200

17

27

23

16

19

0

0

200

400

Incremental maximum

horizontal stress [MPa]

1

5

600

800

1000

15

0

0

200

400

600

800

1000

15

Incremental minimum

horizontal stress [MPa]

1

5

Figure 6: Pressure, temperature and incremental horizontal stress after 1500 days of

injection for rock permeability of 1000 mD and injection rate of 350 m3/hr.

4 Conclusions

Water injection induced fracturing is often encountered in cases of tight/low

permeability formations. These types of reservoirs are the primary candidates for

stress sensitive behaviour, where permeability is stress dependent.

A numerical model to determine the impact of injection on geomechanical

behavior of a geothermal reservoir has been developed. Compared with the

conventional isothermal or thermal reservoir simulators, description of the flow- and

thermal-induced evolution/distribution of reservoir stresses is the unique feature of the

simulator presented here. Simulation results show that the thermal-induced stresses

overcome the incremental compressive stresses resulting from the injection-induced

fluid-pressure increase. The thermal stresses alter the in-situ stress anisotropy in both

magnitude and direction. The results also show that the magnitude of the tensile

stresses resulting from cold-water injection increases, when injection pressure

decreases, due to higher reservoir permeability, and as time of the injeciton increases.

Estimation of geothermal reservoir stresses enables to determine optimal injection

rate to avoid rock fracturing (and early cold water breakthrough) in geothermal

S09 Paper026

Page 5

Session #9

presented in the paper can be used to predict hydraulic fracture propagation due to

cold-water injection. A 3-D model extension could deliver more detailed information

about mechanical behaviour of a rock.

5 References

Chen, H. Y., Teufel, L.W. and Lee, R.L. (1995). Coupled Fluid Flow and

Geomechanics in Reservoir Study - 1. Theory and Governing Equations. SPE 30752,

pp. 507-519.

Osorio, J.G., Chen, H. Y. and Teufel, L.W. (1999). Numerical Simulation of the

Impact of Flow-Induced Geomechanical Response on the Productivity of StressSensitive Reservoirs. SPE 51929, pp. 1-15.

Rewis A. (1999). Coupled Thermal/Fluid-Flow/Geomechanical Simulation of

Waterflood Under Fracturing Conditions. Ph.D. Thesis. New Mexico Institute of

Mining and Technology. Socorro, New Mexico, pp. 1-134.

S09 Paper026

Page 6

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