In collaboration with the Advanced Energy Consortium, our team has previously demonstrated that the placement of electrically active proppants (EAPs) in a hydraulic fracture surveyed by electromagnetic (EM) methods can enhance the imaging of the stimulated reservoir volumes during hydraulic fracturing. That work culminated in constructing a well-characterized EAP-filled fracture anomaly at the Devine field pilot site (DFPS). In subsequent laboratory studies, we observed that the electrical conductivity of our EAP correlates with changes in pressure, salinity, and flow. Thus, we postulated that the EAP could be used as an in-situ sensor for the remote monitoring of these changes in previously EAP-filled fractures. This paper presents our latest field data from the DFPS to demonstrate such correlations at an intermediate pilot scale.

We conducted surface-based EM surveys during freshwater (200 ppm) and saltwater (2,500 ppm) slug injections while running surfaced-based EM surveys. Simultaneously, we measured the following: 1) bottomhole pressure and salinity in five monitoring wells; 2) injection rate using high-precision data loggers; 3) distributed acoustic sensors in four monitoring wells; and 4) tiltmeter data on the survey area.

We demonstrated that injections into an EAP-filled fracture could be successfully coupled with real-time electric field measurements on the surface, leading to remote monitoring of dynamic changes within the EAP-filled fracture. Furthermore, by comparing the electrical field traces with the bottomhole pressure, flow rate, and salinity, we concluded that the observed electric field in our study is influenced by fracture dilation and flow rate. Salinity effect was observed when saltwater was injected. EM simulations solely based on assumptions of fracture conductivity changes during injection did not reproduce all of the measured electric field magnitudes. Preliminary estimates showed that including streaming potential in our geophysical model may be needed to reduce the simulation mismatch.

The methods developed and demonstrated during this study will lead to a better understanding of the extent of fracture networks, formation stress states, fluid leakoff and invasion, characterizations of engineered fracture systems, and other applications where monitoring subsurface flow tracking is deemed important.

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