Fractured reservoirs and their successful production my need to involve fracture shearing. This important mechanism may result in slight dilation of the fractures, and therefore substantial maintenance of conducting aperture, despite effective stress increase. Unless fractures are sealed with hard minerals, and channelized flow is occurring, closure would be likely with the standard geophysics model of one set of stress-parallel fractures. The minimum principal stress would close the fractures unless they were very rough and in hard rock, such as limestone. These scenarios suggest the need for fracture characterization, with a view to geomechanical coupled modeling, so that 4D reservoir monitoring results can be interpreted better than with continuum ‘stress and strain’ arguments, which have little relation to the detailed reality of continued fracture flow during production of petroleum.


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