It has been reported that hydraulic fracturing treatments with smaller cluster spacing and larger fracturing fluids volumes yield better production performance in Permian Basin, Bakken, and Eagle Ford. Degradable diverting agents can play an important role as temporary plugging materials for multiple, tightly-spaced fracturing operations. However, applications of degradable diverting agents are often limited to moderate to high reservoir temperatures. In this study, a new degradable diverting agent is developed for use in low temperature reservoir applications.

Butane-diol vinyl alcohol co-polymer (BVOH) which has controllable water solubility is evaluated as diverting agents for hydraulic fracturing treatments. Using a high pressure-high temperature filtration apparatus, filtration properties of BVOH diverting agents are measured for various powder-to-pellet ratios under a range of temperature conditions. Filter media with 1 to 3 mm width slots, that simulate fracture openings, are used for the filtration test. The filtrate properties are evaluated based on spurt losses and filtration coefficients for quantitative evaluation. An analytical diverting agent model that considers swelling of the polymer in water is also developed for evaluating the filtration process of multimodal particles.

The experimental results presented in this work indicate that the degradable BVOH materials can be used as effective plugging agents for fracture-like narrow slits. Based on spurt losses and leakoff coefficients obtained under different powder-to-pellet ratios and temperature conditions, the performance of the diverting agents is quantitatively evaluated. The optimum powder-to-pellet ratio for BVOH materials are determined to be 80 to 20. The experimental results also reveal that the degree of BVOH crystallinity provides a dominant effect on the solubility of BVOH powder. The test results also indicate that the diverting agent plug properties started degrading under the temperature greater than 140°F as designed. The BVOH diverting agent developed in this work provides effective diversion effects under low to moderate temperature conditions (e.g., 80 to 100°F). The analytical plugging and bridging model developed in this work, which takes into account swelling properties of the polymer, show very good matches to the experimental results.

The degradable diverting agent developed for low temperature applications improve operational efficiency and economics of multistage hydraulic fracturing treatments in shallow reservoirs and operations where immediate fracturing fluid flowback is required. The plugging and bridging model with bimodal particle system developed in this study helps stimulation engineers select and optimize diverting agent material types, particle size distribution, and diverting agent concentration for various well, stimulation, and reservoir conditions.

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