Cockrell School of Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin


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Graduate Seminar: Dr. Jon Olson


Monday, January 26, 2015


03:00pm - 04:00pm


CPE 2.204


Dr. Jon Olson, Chairman of the Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, will present a talk entitled “Hydraulic Fracture Complexity in Shale Gas and Tight Oil Plays: Insights from Geology, Modeling and Physical Experiments" as part of the Claude R. Hocott Graduate Seminar Series.

Abstract: The shale gas revolution, ushered in through the development of the Barnett Shale in the Fort Worth Basin, demonstrated the potential of multi-frac horizontal wells. A close companion with hydraulic fracture placement technology was fracture diagnostic technology, and this illustrated that hydraulic fractures were not as simple as we once thought. The ideas around hydraulic fracture complexity had been brewing for a long time, but really exploded with widespread application of micro-seismic monitoring. Yet, with all the incredible insight gained from micro-seismic mapping, there is still a significant gap in our level of observation. In this talk, I try to populate the observational gap by appealing to natural fracture examples as analogs for what hydraulic fracture complexity might look like, and then create possible realizations of complex fracture geometries using numerical fracture propagation modeling and scaled laboratory experiments. Evidence of stress shadow effects is illustrated for natural fractures and the consequent effect in hydraulic fractures is demonstrated through modeling. Cemented natural fractures are proposed as primary pre-existing flaws with which hydraulic fractures might interact, and the factors influencing this interaction are illustrated. Scaled laboratory experiments simulating hydraulic fracturing in naturally fractured reservoirs illustrate the range of fracture interaction geometries that might occur in the subsurface. Lessons learned from this integrated approach to fracture complexity characterization can help guide well planning, geologic data collection and hydraulic fracture optimization efforts.

Bio: Jon E. Olson is a professor and department chairman in Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin. He holds BS degrees in civil engineering and earth sciences from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD degree in geomechanics from Stanford University. Prior to his arrival at The University of Texas in 1995, he worked for 6 years in Mobil Oil's research organization in Dallas, focusing on petroleum rock mechanics. He has published extensively on the topics of geomechanics and structural geology.