The ultimate aim of hydraulic fracturing is to have a long and conductive flow path that extends from the wellbore into the formation. The effective fracture length is part of a hydraulically propped fracture which contributes to production. The difficulty in achieving economical production targets from shale reservoirs is at the forefront in many exploration companies. Fracture conductivity loss is related to; proppant embedment under depletion, proppant crushing, damage as a result of fracturing fluid, fines migration and proppant-pack permeability-damage are some of the factors that contribute to production decline after hydraulic fracturing in shale reservoirs. The Caney Shale is a calcareous organic-rich mudrock. Various studies have investigated the effect that clay on shale well productivity, however, there is currently no literature on the Caney shale in relation to horizontal wells; all available literature exists in vertical wells as well as on formations of the Caney that are shallow in comparison to an emerging play which is twice the depth. In this paper we investigate stress-dependent fracture conductivity of proppant-filled fractures and proppant embedment in Caney shale through laboratory and modeling studies. API fracture conductivity tests were conducted using 2% KCl on five locations within the Caney shale that consisted of selecting three brittle(reservoir) zones and two ductile zones. Confining pressures range from 1,000 psi to 12,000 psi at 210°F. Conductivity, permeability as well as embedment were measured during the test. Our experimental results have confirmed that improved fracture conductivity is attributed to; proppant size, the increase in porosity of the proppant pack, closure pressure changes and the reduction in fracture conductivity are a function of many factors such as fracture closure stress. The findings from this study could help the stimulation design by providing new insights into the critical factors that are to be determined to facilitate the choice of proppants as well as fracturing fluids for long term production and recovery from shale reservoirs.
The development of low permeability formations, like shales, has been aided by hydraulic fracturing of horizontal wells (Radonjic et al., 2020). Hydraulic fracturing fluid is injected at a high pressure to induce tensile fractures that can link to and stimulate natural fractures (Katende et al., 2021a,b). Preserving adequate conductivity in hydraulic fractures over the life of the wells is required for economic production; nevertheless, conserving such conductivity can be difficult in some circumstances, particularly in soft, clay-rich formations (Wang et al., 2021). Proppant particles help to keep the fractures open when the pumping stops and the fracturing fluid returns to the wellbore, producing one or more propped hydraulic fractures of varying length, breadth, and height (Katende et al., 2021a). The proppant pack within the hydraulic fracture boosts well output by providing a greater permeability flowpath for hydrocarbons (Duenckel et al., 2016). Proppant in the fracture is under complicated stress conditions, and the interplay between the rock formation and the proppant pack has a significant impact on proppant-pack permeability (Karazincir et al., 2019). Proppant may be embedded (Katende et al., 2021a) in the rock or crushed into small pieces if the proppant size and strength characteristics are not specified appropriately, resulting in a loss in proppant-pack permeability and fracture aperture, and consequently a fall in well output.