On occasion, a hydraulically fractured tight gas well does not perform up to its potential because of slow or incomplete fracture fluid cleanup. A number of papers have been written to address individual factors related to fracture fluid cleanup, but there are still many unanswered questions as to which factors mostly affect gas production from such wells. Numerical reservoir simulation is one of the best methods to study the fracture fluid cleanup problem. Continuing from our previous publication (SPE 117444) on the impact of gel damage on fracture cleanup, we used reservoir simulation to analyze systematically the factors that affect fracture fluid cleanup and gas recovery from tight gas wells.

We first developed a comprehensive data set for typical tight gas reservoirs, and then ran single-phase flow cases for each reservoir and fracture scenario to establish the idealized base-case gas recovery. We then systematically evaluated the following factors: multiphase gas and water flow, proppant crushing, polymer filter cake, and finally yield stress of concentrated gel in the fracture. The gel in the fracture is concentrated due to fluid leakoff during the fracture treatment. We evaluated these factors additively in the order listed. We found that the most important factor that reduces fracture fluid cleanup and gas recovery is the gel strength of the fluid that remains in the fracture at the end of the treatment.

This paper illustrates the complexity of the fracture fluid cleanup problem and points out the need to use reservoir simulation and to include all the pertinent factors in order to rigorously model fracture fluid cleanup. The procedures presented can provide a useful, systematic guide to engineers in conducting a numerical simulation study of fracture fluid cleanup.

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