University of Texas at Austin

About FRAC

Fracture Research and Application Consortium

Understanding and successfully predicting, characterizing, and simulating reservoir-scale structures are the aims of the Fracture Research and Application Consortium. A key aspect of the program investigates mechanical and chemical processes and interactions over a range of scales. The goal is improved prediction of subseismic scale heterogeneities that influence fluid flow.

Fractures and faults have worldwide importance because of their influence on successful extraction of resources. Many faults and fractures are difficult or impossible to characterize adequately using currently available technology. Consequently, reservoirs that contain fractures have been intractable to describe and interpret effectively, posing serious challenges for exploration, development, and accurate reservoir simulation and reservoir management. More accurate prediction and characterization of fractures holds great potential for improving production by increasing the success and efficiency of exploration and recovery processes.

Scope of the Project

The scope of this project includes measurement, interpretation, prediction, and simulation of fractures. The project will

  • create and test new methods of measuring attributes of reservoir-scale fractures, particularly as fluid conduits and barriers;
  • extrapolate structural attributes to the reservoir scale through rigorous mathematical techniques and help build accurate and useful 3-D models for the interwell region;
  • develop the capability to accurately predict reservoir-scale deformation using geomechanical, structural, diagenetic, and linked geomechanical/diagenetic models;
  • improve the usefulness of seismic response as an indicator of reservoir-scale structure by providing methods of calibrating and verifying seismic fracture detection methods; and
  • design new ways to incorporate geological and geophysical information into reservoir simulation and verify the accuracy of the simulation.

The aims of this study are both fundamental and practical—to improve prediction and diagnosis of natural-fracture attributes in hydrocarbon reservoirs and accurately simulate their influence on production. New analytical methods will lead to more realistic characterization of fractured and faulted reservoir rocks. These methods will produce data that can enhance well-test and seismic interpretations and that can readily be used in reservoir simulators.

Testing diagnostic and predictive approaches is an integral part of the research. Our requirement is that new methods must ultimately be cost effective. Testing of diagnostic and predictive approaches developed from outcrop, core, and well-test studies is generally carried out in areas of interest to member companies.

Our results are applicable to fractured shales, sandstones, and carbonate rocks.