Open Access

Crucial effect of system compliance on the maximum stress estimation in the hydrofracturing method: Theoretical considerations and field-test verification

Earth, Planets and Space200658:BF03352601

Received: 22 November 2004

Accepted: 4 May 2006

Published: 16 September 2006


Why do the currently available data sets from field hydrofracturing tests indicate that the measured re-opening pressure lies close to the shut-in pressure far more often than can reasonably be expected? In order to explain such a strange phenomenon, it is necessary to take into consideration two additional factors, those of (1) a residual aperture of fracture and (2) hydraulic compliance of the test equipment, both of which are ignored in the conventional theory of hydraulic fracturing. The residual aperture causes pressure penetration into the fracture prior to opening, and its effect is to reduce the re-opening pressure by a factor of two from the value expected when the conventional theory is used. The conventional theory implies that the fracture always begins to open at a borehole pressure less than the shut-in pressure. However, due to the effect of large hydraulic compliance, the reopening pressure measured in the conventional manner becomes larger than the true reopening pressure and approaches the shut-in pressure. Contrary to this, the reopening pressure measured using the test equipment with sufficiently small compliance represents a good estimate of the true reopening pressure. This pressure is related to the maximum horizontal stress SH, and its measured value allows us to estimate the value of SH.

Key words

Stress measurement hydrofracturing maximum stress reopening pressure fracture opening hydraulic compliance