The main functions of hydraulic fracturing fluids are to create a fracture network and to carry and place the proppant into the created fractures networks, thus, adding to fracture conductivity. Significant research has been performed to develop ideal fracturing fluid systems. The development focus has mainly been on optimization of a fluid rheology that can transport and place the proppant into the primary and any subsidiary fractures with less damage to the formation and at a lower cost.

The main goal of this work is to add to the understanding and optimization of proppant transport in complex hydraulic fracture networks. Specifically for this study, focus is placed on two different fluids, water-glycerin solution and water-sodium chloride solution, representing varying fluid densities and viscosities. The effects of changing fluid viscosities, densities, proppant densities, proppant sizes, proppant concentrations, and slurry injection rates on proppant transport were then experimentally investigated. This experimental work shows that viscosity has a greater impact on the proppant transport than fluid density does, thus implying a larger impact on the resulting fracture conductivity. The results of this work show that a water-glycerin solution, with a viscosity of 4.3 cp, has significant proppant carrying capacity with proppants delivered uniformly to greater distances. On the other hand, the results show that a water-sodium chloride solution of 9.24 ppg density has less capability to carry the proppant deep into the fractures indicating that viscosity has a greater impact on the proppant transport than fluid density does. The lab results also showed that increasing proppant concentrations and injection rates has a positive impact on proppant transport.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.