Water imbibition is a key factor affecting the flowback system of shale gas wells after volume fracturing. This paper took shale samples from the Longmaxi formation (LF) in the Sichuan Basin as subjects, the experiments of shale water imbibition under different influencing factors were carried out. The water imbibition law was analyzed, and the shale water imbibition capacity was quantitatively characterized, the question if shut-down is necessary after volume fracturing of wells in shale gas reservoir has been answered objectively. The experimental results show that: according to imbibition saturation, the shale water imbibition can be divided into 3 periods, imbibition diffusion, imbibition transition and imbibition balance periods. Among them, the imbibition diffusion period is the main period for imbibition capacity rise. The shale sample with horizontal bedding had much larger imbibition capacity than the sample with vertical bedding. The initial micro-fractures provide percolation pathways for shale imbibition, making flow resistance drop and imbibition capacity increase rapidly. Imbibition capacities of the shale samples to different types of fluids in descending order were: deionized water, slick water, 2% KCl solution and kerosene. The micro-fracfures induced by shale hydration were mainly lamellation, with obvious directionality. Shale hydration can improve the fracturing effect of reservoir, resulting in the increase of porosity of 0.08-1.04 times and increase of permeability of 2.3-173.6 times. The study results can provide scientific basis for the optimization of flowback system of shale gas wells.

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