The stability of polysaccharide gels at high temperature is limited by such factors as pH, mechanical degradation, and oxidants. Oxygen is unavoidably placed in fracturing fluids through dissolution of air. To prevent premature degradation of the fracturing fluid by this oxidant, oxygen scavengers are commonly used.

In this paper, the effects of oxygen and various oxygen scavengers on gel stability will be presented. Mechanical removal of oxygen resulted in surprisingly stable fracturing gels at 275°F. However, chemical removal of oxygen gave mixed results. Test data from sodium thiosulfate, sodium sulfite, and sodium erythorbate used as oxygen scavengers/gel stabilizers showed that the efficiency of oxygen removal from gels did not directly coincide with the viscosity retention of the gel, and large excesses of additives were necessary to provide optimum gel stabilization. The inability of some oxygen scavengers to stabilize the gel was the result of products created from the interaction of oxygen with the oxygen scavenger, which in turn, produced species that degraded the gel. The ideal oxygen scavenger should provide superior gel stabilization without creating detrimental side reaction products. Of the materials tested, sodium thiosulfate appeared to be the most beneficial.

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