In-situ stress analysis of southwest Saskatchewan
Hamid, Osman H
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Scenarios developed by the National Energy Board of Canada predict that Canadian unconventional gas production, including coalbed methane (CBM), may be required to meet Canadian energy demands by the year 2008, and could constitute up to 65% of supply by 2025. Although there has been considerable CBM exploration and development in Alberta in recent years, there has been relatively limited activity in Saskatchewan.The in-situ stress regime can have a strong influence on coal bed methane (CBM) production, coal permeability, hydraulic fracturing pressure, and borehole stability while drilling horizontal wells. A limited number of stress regime analyses have been conducted previously on a regional scale, for the entire Western Canada Sedimentary Basin (WCSB), but none has been conducted with a focus on Saskatchewan. The primary objective of this study was to investigate in-situ stress magnitudes and orientations in southwestern Saskatchewan. The secondary objective was to quantify the influence of in-situ stresses on operational practices that would be used to exploit CBM targets.Analysis of vertical stress magnitudes and gradients were conducted using bulk density data compiled for 257 wells in southwest Saskatchewan. Vertical stress magnitudes calculated at the base of the Belly River Formation in the region where its CBM potential is greatest were found to be in the 6 to 12 MPa range. Vertical stress magnitudes at the top of the Mannville Group in the region where its CBM potential is greatest were found to be in the 12 to 18 MPa range. Data available for interpretation of minimum horizontal stress magnitudes were considerably more limited. A technique was developed to estimate these magnitudes using fracture stimulation data, which were available for the Viking Formation and Mannville Groups. Using this technique, minimum horizontal stress magnitudes at the top of the Mannville Group in the region of greatest interest were estimated to be 10 to 14 MPa. The results of these analyses suggest that depth is a dominant controlling factor for minimum horizontal stress magnitude, but that pore pressures (sub-normal pressures cause lower stresses) and lithology (shaley rocks, and perhaps coals, have higher stresses) also have notable effects. Insufficient data were obtained for direct estimation of minimum horizontal stresses in the Belly River Formation. Minimum horizontal stress magnitudes in this formation might be quite close to vertical stress magnitudes.Borehole breakouts were analyzed to interpret the orientation of maximum horizontal stress (¥òHmax) in the study area. The mean orientation of the mean borehole breakouts gives a 137¨¬ with a circular standard deviation of 12¨¬, which parallels the minimum horizontal stress in the study area with a notable inflection overlying the Swift Current platform. The data is portrayed in a trajectory map. The trajectories indicated on the map can be used for predicting the orientation of induced hydraulic fractures, and the likely orientation of face cleats in coals. Knowledge of the orientations of these features is essential to effective development of CBM resources.Based on the stress and pore pressure data presented in this thesis, it is anticipated that minimum effective stresses in the Belly River coals will typically be a few MPa, and up to 10 MPa in the Mannville coals. A very rough estimate of permeabilities based on the data compiled for various Canadian coals suggests that permeabilities could be in the 0.01 to 10 millidarcy range for the former, and 0.01 to 1 millidarcy range for the latter. Borehole stability analyses were conducted for both the Belly River Formation and the Mannville Group. The results suggest that horizontal drilling of the Mannville coals should be feasible, without the need for high-density drilling muds. Given that the Belly River coals occur in numerous thin seams, they are most likely to be developed using vertical wells. Borehole instability is not likely to be a major problem in these vertical wells.Recommendations are provided for laboratory investigation of coal permeabilities and mechanical properties, field testing for minimum horizontal stress magnitudes in coal seams and adjacent strata, and additional analysis of existing fracture stimulation, log and core data for strata not analyzed in this project.
DegreeMaster of Science (M.Sc.)
SupervisorHawkes, Christopher D.
CommitteeSharma, Jitendra; Milne, Douglas; Berthelot, Curtis; Stauffer, Melvyn R.