The industry has developed standard methods to effectively evaluate the propping agents used in hydraulic fracturing operations. The understanding gained from the consistant application of the methods has greatly helped to optimize productivity.of hydraulicly fractured wells.

This paper presents two mechanisms that may significantly increase the understanding of how to optimize fracture conductivity to sustain productivity. The standard methods use well "aged" (passive) proppant and simulated formation materials; whereas, in practice, formation faces are highly activated as an immediate result of mechanical fracturing, as is a significant portion of the pumped proppant.

The chemistry that occurs at freshly exposed mineral surfaces is different than that of the aged surfaces used in the laboratory. For example, condensation of polymers on freshly generated surfaces may result in polymer chains becoming anchored to the surface. This anchoring prevents some polymer from being removed by normal gel-breaking mechanisms and forms points of attraction for the collection of broken polymer and fines debris, leading to significant permeability damage and reduced fluid recovery.

After a treatment when pressure is relieved and well clean-up begins, temperature and stress gradients are high; significant crushing of proppant and formation material may occur as a packed fracture moves toward an equilibrium condition. The presence of hHigh-ionic-strength fracturing fluids, particularly at high pH, may promote a rapid mineral diagenesis-type reaction that leads to proppant compaction, embedment, and crystalline overgrowth permeability damage.

This paper provides laboratory and field data supporting the conclusion that the application of a thin, highly dielectric, polymer film to coat proppant can result in a long-term reduction in mineral dissolution rate, compaction, embedment, and polymer anchoring sites. Field data shows this effect has a dramatic improvement in fracturing fluid recovery and well productivity.

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