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Laboratory investigation of hydraulic fracture networks in formations with continuous orthogonal fractures


  • Fan, Tie-gang
  • Zhang, Guang-qing


Researchers have recently realized that hydraulic fracture networks are significant for the exploitation of unconventional reservoirs (tight gas, shale gas, coalbed methane, etc.). Studies have shown that slickwater fracturing treatments can create complex fractures that increase the ‘stimulated reservoir volume’ in naturally fractured formations. However, the influence of the created hydraulic fracture network is not well understood. Laboratory experiments are proposed to study the evolution of hydraulic fracture networks in naturally fractured formations with specimens that contain two groups of orthogonal cemented fractures. The influence of dominating factors was studied and analyzed, with an emphasis on natural fracture density and injection rate. We concluded that hydraulic fracture networks are formed by the interactive process between the reopening and connecting of the natural fractures through slickwater fracturing in the specimens, indicated by frequent pressure fluctuations. The spatial envelope of the fracture network is an approximate ellipsoid with the major axis deviating from the orientation of the maximum horizontal stress. It is suggested from the pressure curve that great natural fracture density and high injection rates tend to raise the treatment pressure and the pressure profiles could reflect different characteristics of extending behaviors.

Suggested Citation

  • Fan, Tie-gang & Zhang, Guang-qing, 2014. "Laboratory investigation of hydraulic fracture networks in formations with continuous orthogonal fractures," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C), pages 164-173.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:energy:v:74:y:2014:i:c:p:164-173
    DOI: 10.1016/

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McGlade, Christophe & Speirs, Jamie & Sorrell, Steve, 2013. "Unconventional gas – A review of regional and global resource estimates," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 571-584.
    2. Gracceva, Francesco & Zeniewski, Peter, 2013. "Exploring the uncertainty around potential shale gas development – A global energy system analysis based on TIAM (TIMES Integrated Assessment Model)," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 443-457.
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    Cited by:

    1. Zhao, Liqiang & Chen, Yixin & Du, Juan & Liu, Pingli & Li, Nianyin & Luo, Zhifeng & Zhang, Chencheng & Huang, Fushan, 2019. "Experimental Study on a new type of self-propping fracturing technology," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 183(C), pages 249-261.
    2. Yu Wang & Xiao Li & Jianming He & Zhiheng Zhao & Bo Zheng, 2016. "Investigation of Fracturing Network Propagation in Random Naturally Fractured and Laminated Block Experiments," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(8), pages 1-15, July.
    3. Jianming He & Lekan Olatayo Afolagboye & Chong Lin & Xiaole Wan, 2018. "An Experimental Investigation of Hydraulic Fracturing in Shale Considering Anisotropy and Using Freshwater and Supercritical CO 2," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(3), pages 1-13, March.
    4. Jianxiong Li & Shiming Dong & Wen Hua & Yang Yang & Xiaolong Li, 2019. "Numerical Simulation on Deflecting Hydraulic Fracture with Refracturing Using Extended Finite Element Method," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(11), pages 1-19, May.
    5. Josifovic, Aleksandar & Roberts, Jennifer J. & Corney, Jonathan & Davies, Bruce & Shipton, Zoe K., 2016. "Reducing the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing through design optimisation of positive displacement pumps," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 115(P1), pages 1216-1233.
    6. Zhaohui Chong & Qiangling Yao & Xuehua Li, 2019. "Experimental Investigation of Fracture Propagation Behavior Induced by Hydraulic Fracturing in Anisotropic Shale Cores," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(6), pages 1-16, March.
    7. Jianming He & Chong Lin & Xiao Li & Xiaole Wan, 2016. "Experimental Investigation of Crack Extension Patterns in Hydraulic Fracturing with Shale, Sandstone and Granite Cores," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 9(12), pages 1-16, December.
    8. Zhihong Lei & Yanjun Zhang & Zhongjun Hu & Liangzhen Li & Senqi Zhang & Lei Fu & Gaofan Yue, 2019. "Application of Water Fracturing in Geothermal Energy Mining: Insights from Experimental Investigations," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(11), pages 1-22, June.


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