We report the design, operation and biogenic souring data from a first-of-its kind suite of High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Bioreactors for hydraulically fractured shale reservoirs. These bioreactors vet the ability of microbial control technologies, such as biocides, to prevent the onset of microbial contamination and reservoir souring at larger experimental volumes and higher pressures and temperatures than have been previously possible outside of field trials.

The bioreactors were charged with proppant, crushed Permian shale, and sterile simulated fracturing fluids (SSFF). Subsets of bioreactors were charged with SSFF dosed with either no biocide, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride (TTPC, a cationic surface-active biocide), or 4,4-dimethyloxazolidine (DMO, a preservative biocide). The bioreactors were shut in under 1,000-2,500 psi and elevated temperatures for up to fifteen weeks; hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and microbial counts were measured approximately once per week, and additional microbes were introduced after weeks three and five.

Across two separate studies, the bioreactors containing no biocide soured within the first week of shut-in and H2S concentrations increased rapidly beyond the maximum detectable level (343 ppm) within the first three to six weeks of shut-in. In the first study, the bioreactors treated with TTPC soured within two weeks of shut-in (prior to the first addition of fresh microbes), and H2S concentrations increased rapidly to nearly 200 ppm H2S within the first six weeks of shut-in and beyond the maximum detectable level after fifteen weeks of shut-in. The bioreactors containing DMO did not sour during either study until at least the first addition of fresh microbes, and higher levels of the preservative biocide continued to prevent the biogenic formation of H2S even during and after the addition of fresh microbes. Microbial counts correlate with the H2S readings across all bioreactor treatments. The differentiation in antimicrobial activity afforded by the different types of biocide treatments validates the use of these simulated laboratory reservoirs as a biocide selection tool.

This first-of-its-kind suite of HPHT Bioreactors for hydraulic fracturing provides the most advanced biocide selection tool developed for the hydraulic fracturing industry to date. The bioreactors will guide completions and stimulation engineers in biocide program optimization under reservoir-relevant conditions prior to beginning lengthy and expensive field trials.

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