Work reported in this paper shows that fracture-pack permeability and conductivity are impacted by the mobility of formation-generated fines plugging under high-stress and high gas flow-rate conditions. The authors examine two approaches to (1) prevent formation fines from entering the proppant pack and (2) provide higher sustained fracture-pack permeability and conductivity under severe production conditions. The paper further shows that significant improvements can be obtained in both the short term and the long term, and how these improvements can be used to provide sustained gas production.

The results of laboratory testing are reviewed in detail, including the mechanisms by which fines are immobilized and the conductivity is maintained. The mechanisms involve an on-the-fly, direct coating of proppant with surface- modification agents (SMA) just before the proppant is blended with the carrier fluid. The chemical properties of the SMA can be varied widely to meet downhole conditions and production flow rates. The treatment renders the formation sand and fines immobile so that migration and plugging do not occur. In addition to fines stabilization, SMA can be formulated using liquid resin to consolidate the proppant pack, making it useful in controlling proppant flowback at high production rates, and in providing long-term pack stability. The effects of non-darcy flow are also examined and compared to baseline data.

Field studies are reviewed to evaluate how actual productivity can be affected, both short-term and long-term, by controlling fines damage to provide long-term fracture conductivity.

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