Reservoir Management Tool for Accurate Simulation of Fractures and Reservoirs

Computing & Wireless : Application Software

Available for non-exclusive licensing


  • Jon Olson, Ph.D. , Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering

Background/unmet need

As the oil industry matures, difficult reservoirs, such as fractured reservoirs, become more economically attractive. Fractures are also increasingly viewed as having a significant role in successful secondary recovery of resources as well as in near-surface environmental remediation. Unfortunately, natural fracture patterns are difficult to characterize in the subsurface. Fracture systematics are not well constrained from wellbore or seismic data. This difficulty in fracture characterization poses serious challenges for exploration, risk assessment, development, and accurate reservoir simulation and management.

Invention Description

A technique for reducing uncertainty in fracture characterization is embodied in this invention, JOINTS, a geomechanics-based model where a physical understanding of the fracturing process is combined with measurements of mechanical properties of rock and geologic deformation history to predict fracture network characteristics. This process-oriented approach provides a theoretical basis for deciding what types of fracture distributions are physically reasonable, and how attributes such as length, spacing and aperture are interrelated.

JOINTS simulates subcritical and critical opening-mode fracture growth and can provide a combined prediction of all fracture attributes and their spatial distribution that can be used in discrete fracture flow modeling or in permeability upscaling for more traditional finite difference simulators. FRACPerm is a utility designed to assess the steady-state, single phase x and y permeability of JOINTS-generated fracture patterns for the purpose of export to larger scale, full-featured reservoir simulations. The FRACPerm code uses the finite difference method gridded to a fine scale to match the fracture pattern discretization.


  • Software can propagate as many as hundreds of fractures simultaneously.
  • Fracture paths do not have to be planar.


  • Characterizes details of fracture patterns and how those parameters vary through time.
  • Program can be run in a graphics mode which is particularly useful for preliminary analysis involving uncertainty about the appropriate input values

Market potential/applications

Oil and gas, civil, geological, and reservoir engineering industries.

Development Stage

Beta product/commercial prototype