The availability of natural gas in the Dutch subsurface has boosted the economy of the Netherlands for decades. Nowadays the production of natural gas from conventional sources is rapidly declining while demand is ever increasing. Indeed, it is expected that within five years the Netherlands will become a net importer of gas. Many other EU countries, having far less conventional gas of their own, are already faced with reliance on imports from Russia. Read more...

shale under stressIn unconventional tough gas reservoirs (e.g. tight sandstones or shales) the presence of fractures, either naturally formed or hydraulically induced, is almost always a prerequisite for hydrocarbon productivity to be economically viable. This project studies the formation of fractures in tough gas reservoir rocks (3D fracture geometry and connectivity) by use of laboratory fracturing experiments combined with acoustic measurements.

The research particularly focuses on the effect of rock heterogeneity on the resultant fracture network, how the permeability evolves during the formation of those fracture networks and what the acoustic characteristics are of the shales during development of 3D fracture networks. In addition, this project has determined novel strategies in e.g. fluid pressure or stress cycling to optimize the connectivity of the complex fracture networks and as such maximize the hydrocarbon productivity of tough gas reservoir rocks.