The channel fracturing technique combines fracture modeling, materials and pumping methods to generate a network of highly conductive channels within the proppant pack. These channels aim at expediting the delivery of hydrocarbons from the reservoir to the wellbore (Gillard et al., 2010). This paper provides a comprehensive summary of the implementation of this novel technique in the Burgos basin, Mexico North.

The Eocene Yegua formation in the Palmito field near Reynosa, Mexico was selected for this study. This formation comprises sandstone layers with average permeability of 0.5 mD and Young’s modulus in the order of 2.5 Mpsi. Key historical issues for the stimulation of this formation using conventional fracturing materials are limited polymer recovery and the consequential fracture conductivity impairment. Use of resin-coated proppants has also been implemented to prevent proppant flowback from these operations.

Gas production, treating pressure and polymer recovery data from a twelve-well campaign in the Palmito field (six wells treated via channel fracturing, six offset wells treated conventionally and aiming for similar fracture geometry) are summarized in the manuscript. Results indicate that the implementation of the channel fracturing technique improved fluid and polymer recovery, thus leading to increases in initial gas production by 32% and 6-month cumulative gas production by 19%. Such improvements in production were obtained with 50% less proppant per stage and smaller proppant particles. These observations are consistent with the hypothesis that the channel fracturing technique promotes the decoupling of fracture conductivity from proppant pack permeability. Positive features that were also observed during this campaign such as absence of proppant flowback issues without the use of resin-coated sand and non-occurrence of near-wellbore screen-outs are also reported and discussed.

The study concluded that the channel fracturing technique is a viable alternative to conventional fracturing methods for the stimulation of wells in the Burgos basin.

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