Abstract

The oil and gas industry has been relying on hydraulic fracturing techniques to proliferate production from low permeability reservoirs. Despite significant advancements in tools and chemicals used in the fracturing processes, maximized production and recovery of hydrocarbons is still unattainable due to challenges with proppant placement and settling.

Even when heavy gelation fluids are used, proppants suspensions are subject to particles settling in the presence of vibration, and/or due to fracturing fluids breaking before the fracture close. Furthermore, the fractures are typically vertical; in this case the proppant has a tendency to settle in the lower portion of the fractures while the upper portions close in the absence of proppant. This can lead to impairment in the geometry of the fracture and well productivity.

This paper describe a new ultra-lightweight proppant having a low specific gravity (1.06) that can withstand stresses up to 8,000 psi at a temperature of 275°F. Such proppant is easier to transport and due to its buoyancy will stay suspended in low viscosity fluids leading to fractures that are much better propped.

This new material has been fully characterized for its properties including mechanical and thermal properties. It applicability to far field applications has been validated through conductivity testing in a partial monolayer mode as a function of loading and temperature. The Modeling was used to establish its application in mixtures with conventional proppant for vertical coverage of the fracture.

Experimental evaluation of the proppant show that its conductivity decreases as the stress and temperature increase due to the nature of the material. The results show that this proppant can be used up to 8,000 psi at 275°F in a partial monolayer mode. Placing the proppant in a partial monolayer application is required due to the flexibility of the proppant material and to maximize conductivity through the proppant.

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