Abstract

Foams have been used as hydraulic fracturing fluids to reduce water usage and minimize the potentially deleterious impact on water-sensitive formations. Traditionally, carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen (N2) have been used as the internal phase in these foamed fluids. Hydraulic fracturing with natural gas (NG) is a relatively inexpensive option, particularly if NG produced from the wellhead can be used without significant processing. In an ongoing program sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), an alternative fracturing process is being developed that uses NG-based foam. Previously, the optimal thermodynamic pathway was identified to transform wellhead NG into pressurized NG suitable for use as the internal phase in a foamed fracturing fluid. Recent work has focused on preparing a NG-based foam at surface conditions typically encountered in hydraulic fracturing and measuring the stability and rheological properties of the foam. In addition, the transient response of the foam during fracture initiation was simulated using a fast-acting solenoid valve. A single base-fluid mixture was prepared by combining a commercially available viscosifier and foaming surfactant with water. The base fluid was then injected into a tee using a water pump. Simultaneously, liquefied natural gas (LNG) was pressurized using a cryogenic pump, vaporized using a heat exchanger, and injected into the tee to mix with the base fluid and generate foam. The foam then flowed through approximately 300 ft of 0.312-in. inside diameter (ID) tubing equipped with pressure transducers at several locations. The test fixture included a sight glass to visually inspect the quality of the foam. This paper reports on findings related to foam stability and rheology and compares these results to previous studies on foamed fracturing fluids.

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