This presentation discusses the results of experimental and field case studies of a remedial treatment technique designed to eliminate fracture proppant production. This process uses a low-viscosity consolidating agent, which is placed into the propped fractures via coiled tubing or conventional tubing coupled with a pressure-pulsing tool. The treatment fluids are designed to provide consolidation for previously placed proppant near the wellbore without damaging the permeability of the proppant pack. The consolidation treatment transforms the loosely packed proppant in the fractures and the formation sand close to the wellbore into a cohesive, consolidated, yet highly permeable pack.
Laboratory gas flow testing indicates that the proppant pack in a fracture model under closure stress required low-strength bonds between proppant grains to withstand high production flow rates. Field case histories are also presented to discuss treatment procedures, precautions, and recommendations for implementing the treatment process. One major advantage of this new remedial treatment technique is the ability to place the treatment fluid into the propped fractures, regardless of the number of perforation intervals and their lengths, without mechanical isolation between the intervals. The fluid placement efficiency of this process makes remediation economically feasible, especially in wells with marginally economic reserves.
Many fracture-stimulated wells in the world today are subjected to curtailed production rates because of sustained proppant flowback problems. In fact, many wells are actually shut in because operators found them to be uneconomical to produce at subsequently lowered rates. Typically, production becomes restricted, such as by perforations being covered with produced proppant. The proppant produced during production often causes damage to downhole pumps and to surface equipment. In addition, repairing the equipment often results in costly downtime for the wells.
Low production rates directly affect potential revenue for the operator. Frequent workovers required for cleanup or sand removal, including shut-in time, also factor into the revenue losses caused by proppant flowback or sand infill. However, the problem will return and the loss of revenue will continue unless a treatment can be found that will remediate the problem at its source and not simply clean up the wellbore.
After an initial completion, it is often very difficult to conduct cost-effective remedial treatments to overcome proppant-production problems. Conventional remedial treatments are usually inadequate without some type of mechanical isolation technique. Conventional methods with a good chance of effective treatment are usually either too risky for well problems or too costly to consider for low-return reservoir conditions (or both).
Resin materials have also been applied to treat proppant flowback. However, a key problem with using these materials has been the inability to achieve a uniform placement of the resin into propped fractures for the entire perforated interval. This problem is amplified by the presence of variable permeability, perforation debris, formation damage in the near-wellbore region, and the high viscosity of many resin materials.
A system that attacks the problem at its source is a better approach to this problem. Using a system of treatment fluids placed precisely into propped fractures by coiled tubing can turn many marginal wells into excellent producers, and do so cost-effectively. The treatment chemicals introduced into the propped fracture will form a consolidated, highly permeable pack that can withstand the high drawdown associated with production. This paper discusses such a system.