Fluid Flow in Fractured Rocks: Analysis and Modeling

  • Xupeng He

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The vast majority of oil and gas reserves are trapped in fractured carbonate reservoirs. Most carbonate reservoirs are naturally fractured, with fractures ranging from millimeter- to kilometer-scale. These fractures create complex flow behaviors which impact reservoir characterization, production performance, and, eventually, total recovery. As we know, bridging the gas from plug to near-wellbore, eventually to field scales, is a persisting challenge in modeling Naturally Fractured Reservoirs (NFRs). This dissertation will focus on assessing the fundamental flow mechanisms in fractured rocks at the plug scale, understanding the governing upscaling parameters, and ultimately, developing fit-for-purpose upscaling tools for field-scale implementation. In this dissertation, we first focus on the upscaling of rock fractures under the laminar flow regime. A novel analytical model is presented by incorporating the effects of normal aperture, roughness, and tortuosity. We then investigate the stress-dependent hydraulic behaviors of rock fractures. A new and generalized theoretical model is derived and verified by a dataset collected from public experimental resources. In addition, an efficient coupled flow-geomechanics algorithm is developed to further validate the proposed analytical model. The physics of matrix-fracture interaction and fluid leakage is modeled by a high-resolution, micro-continuum approach, called extended Darcy-Brinkman-Stokes (DBS) equations. We observe the back-flow phenomena for the first time. Machine learning is then implemented into our traditional upscaling work under complex physics (e.g., initial and Klinkenberg effects). We finally consolidate the lab-scale upscaling tools and scale them up to the field scale. We develop a fully coupled hydro-mechanical model based on the Discrete-Fracture Model (DFM) in fractured reservoirs, in which we incorporate localized effects of fracture roughness at the field-scale.
Date of AwardMay 2022
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Physical Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorHussein Hoteit (Supervisor)


  • Fracture Upscaling
  • Corrected Cubic Law
  • Stress-Dependent Fracture Permeability
  • Coupled Flow-Geomechanics Simulation
  • Matrix-Fracture Leakage
  • Micro-Continuum Approach
  • Non-Linear Flow Fracture Permeability
  • Data-Driven Physics-Included Model
  • Discrete Fracture Model
  • Coupled Hydro-Mechanical Process

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