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Volume 2018, Article ID 4252904, 20 pages
Research Article

Modeling Simultaneous Multiple Fracturing Using the Combined Finite-Discrete Element Method

1School of Civil Engineering, Wuhan University, Wuhan 430072, China
2State Key Laboratory of Oil and Gas Reservoir Geology and Exploitation, Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu 610500, China
3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Pingli Liu; nc.ude.upws@ilgnipuil

Received 23 August 2017; Accepted 8 January 2018; Published 18 February 2018

Academic Editor: Wei Wu

Copyright © 2018 Quansheng Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Simultaneous multiple fracturing is a key technology to facilitate the production of shale oil/gas. When multiple hydraulic fractures propagate simultaneously, there is an interaction effect among these propagating hydraulic fractures, known as the stress-shadow effect, which has a significant impact on the fracture geometry. Understanding and controlling the propagation of simultaneous multiple hydraulic fractures and the interaction effects between multiple fractures are critical to optimizing oil/gas production. In this paper, the FDEM simulator and a fluid simulator are linked, named FDEM-Fluid, to handle hydromechanical-fracture coupling problems and investigate the simultaneous multiple hydraulic fracturing mechanism. The fractures propagation and the deformation of solid phase are solved by FDEM; meanwhile the fluid flow in the fractures is modeled using the principle of parallel-plate flow model. Several tests are carried out to validate the application of FDEM-Fluid in hydraulic fracturing simulation. Then, this FDEM-Fluid is used to investigate simultaneous multiple fractures treatment. Fractures repel each other when multiple fractures propagate from a single horizontal well, while the nearby fractures in different horizontal wells attract each other when multiple fractures propagate from multiple parallel horizontal wells. The in situ stress also has a significant impact on the fracture geometry.