Horizontal respect distance for hydraulic fracturing in the vicinity of existing faults in deep geological reservoirs: a review and modelling study

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  • Keele University


Hydraulic fracturing is widely used in the petroleum industry to enhance oil and gas production, especially for the extraction of shale gas from unconventional reservoirs. A good understanding of the vertical distance which should be preserved between hydraulic stimulation and overlying aquifers (potable water) has been demonstrated as being greater than 600 m (2000 feet). However, the effective application of this technique depends on many factors; one of particular
importance is the influence of the fracturing process on pre-existing fractures and faults in the reservoir, which, however, to date, has had little analysis. Specifically, the identification of the required respect distance which must be maintained between the hydraulic fracturing location and pre-existing faults is of paramount importance in minimizing the risk of felt, induced seismicity. This must be an important consideration for setting the guidelines for operational procedures by legislative authorities. We investigate the respect distance using a Monte Carlo approach, generating fifty discrete fracture networks for each of three fracture intensities, on which a hydraulic fracturing simulation is run, using FracMan. The Coulomb stress change of the rock surrounding the simulated injection stage is calculated for three weighted source mechanisms combining inflation, strike-slip and reverse. The lateral respect distance is obtained using values from literature of the amount of stress required to induce movement on a pre-existing fault. We find that the lateral respect distance is dependent on fracture intensity and the failure threshold. However, the weighting of the source mechanism has limited effect on the lateral respect distance.


Original languageEnglish
JournalGeomechanics and Geophysics for Geo-Energy and Geo-Resources
Early online date28 Jun 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Jun 2017


  • Shale gas , Fracture network , Hydraulic fracturing, Numerical modelling, Fault proximity, Stress