Abstract

Hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells is a water intensive process. Limited availability, cost and increasing government regulations restraining the use and disposal of fresh water have led to the need for alternative fracturing fluids. Using CO2 foam as a fracturing fluid can drastically reduce the need for water in hydraulic fracturing. We address the addition of polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles (PECNP) to surfactant solutions to improve foam stability, durability and rheological properties at high foam qualities. Polyelectrolyte pH and polyanion/polycation ratios were varied to minimize particle size and maximize absolute zeta potential of the resulting nanoparticles. Rheological tests were conducted on foam systems of varying surfactant/PECNP ratios and different foam quality to understand the effect of shear on viscosity under simulated reservoir conditions of 40°C and 1300 psi. The same foam systems were tested for stability and durability in a view cell at reservoir conditions. Supercritical CO2 foam generated by surfactant alone resulted in short lived, low viscosity foam because of surfactant drainage from foam lamellae. However, addition of PECNP strengthens the foam film by swelling the film due to increased osmotic pressure and electrostatic forces. Electrostatic interactions reduce dynamic movement of surfactant micelles, thereby stabilizing the foam lamellae, which imparts high durability and viscosity to supercritical CO2 foams. From the rheology test results, it was concluded that increasing foam quality and the presence of PECNP resulted in improved viscosity. Also, foam systems with PECNP showed promising results compared with foam generated using surfactant alone in the view cell durability test. The addition of optimized polyelectrolyte nanoparticles to the surfactant can improve viscosity and durability of supercritical CO2 foam during hydraulic fracturing, which can lead to large reductions in water requirements.

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