Hydraulic Fracturing: Theory & Application

INSTRUCTORS: Jennifer Miskimins PhD
Discipline: Engineering, Unconventional Reservoirs
Course Length (days): 3
CEUs: 2.4
Public/ In-house/ Both: In-House Only
Who Should Attend:

This course is intended for petroleum engineers, geologists, geophysicists, and other technical staff wanting a more in-depth understanding of hydraulic fracturing. All types of reservoir applications are discussed, but a focus is placed on the design and application in horizontal well systems. Previous knowledge of hydraulic fracturing basic concepts is helpful, but not required.

Course Description:

Sample topic from the class:
“What is Your Fracture Conductivity Anyway? Damage Mechanisms and Other Concerns”

This course provides an in-depth look at hydraulic fracturing, first from a theoretical viewpoint, but also how this theory translates into application of the technique. The course starts with a discussion of the goals of hydraulic fracturing and the economic justifications that go along with them. From there, the reservoir characteristics such as in-situ stresses, rock mechanical properties, etc. and their impacts on hydraulic fracture behavior are covered.

Fracturing fluids and proppant types are presented, and an in-depth discussion of conductivity and the associated damage mechanisms under reservoir conditions are discussed. The impacts of such on production and reserve recovery is also highlighted. A large section of the course is dedicated to diagnostic techniques such as DFIT’s, tracers, microseismic, and fiberoptics. How these techniques work, benefits and drawbacks, and potential applications are reviewed. Fracture modeling is discussed, with some model examples presented. Finally, the course concludes with a discussion of economic considerations for hydraulic fracturing design, specifically in horizontal wells.


  • Distinguish between the different fracture lengths (created, effective, propped, hydraulic) and understand their importance in fracture design and efficiency
  • Differentiate between various fracture conductivity damage mechanisms and understand the impacts to production
  • Compare and contrast different treatment diversion options
  • Calculate in-situ stress values and understand the impacts of over- and under-pressured reservoir systems on such values
  • Distinguish between different diagnostic techniques, both indirect and direct, and determine the pros/cons of various options
Course Content
  • What is hydraulic fracturing?
    • History of hydraulic fracturing
    • Goals of hydraulic fracturing
      • Length vs. conductivity
      • Effective length
      • Economic justification
    • Challenges
  • SRV vs. enhanced permeability models
  • Rock mechanics
    • Definitions
      • Stress
      • Strain
      • Young’s modulus
      • Poisson’s ratio
    • Static (core) measurements
    • Dynamic measurements and log analysis
      • Effects of saturation and stress
      • Synthetic DTC curves
    • “Brittleness”
  • In situ stress
    • Uniaxial strain and total stress equations
      • Overburden
      • Pore pressure
      • Poroelasticity and Biot’s “constant”
      • Regional stress and strain
  • Breakdown pressures
    • Vertical
    • Horizontal/deviated wells
  • Completion Types and Perforating
    • Horizontal vs. vertical wells
      • Performance considerations
      • Pros/cons of transverse vs. longitudinal
    • Treatment diversion techniques
      • Ball drop systems
      • Plug-n-perf
      • Dynamic diversion
    • Perforating
      • Damage
      • Stress Cages
      • Hydro-jetting
      • Spacing of clusters
  • Fracturing fluids
    • What is an optimal fluid?
    • Types
      • Polymers/water-based
      • Water-based foams
      • Oil-based
      • Surfactant-based
    • Additives
      • Crosslinkers
      • Breakers
    • Rheology
    • Fluid loss
  • Proppants
    • Types
    • API specifications
  • Conductivity
    • Determination of realistic measurement
    • Damage mechanisms
      • Embedment and spalling
      • Packing
      • Cyclic loading
      • Crushing
      • Gel damage and clean-up issues
      • Non-Darcy flow effects
      • Multiphase effects
      • Capillary effects
      • Gravity
      • Horizontal well issues
    • Post-Job Analysis
      • Clean-up
      • Liquid loading
      • Formation face damage
  • Diagnostics
    • Pressure diagnostics
      • Step rate test
      • DFIT’s
        • Normal leakoff
        • Pressure dependent leakoff (PDL)
        • Variable storage
        • Tip extension
      • Tiltmeters
      • Microseismic
      • Radioactive tracers
      • Flowback tracers
      • DTS/DAS
  • Hydraulic fracture modeling
    • Design
    • Fracture mechanics and tip mechanisms
    • Model types
    • Proppant transport
  • Economic optimization of treatments
  • Conclusions