Hydraulic fracturing has been an essential part of the gas development program in Saudi Arabia. In particular, proppant fracturing treatments have increasingly grown in number in recent years, which provided an incentive to look for viable alternatives to imported proppants. A new hydraulic fracturing design that utilized local sand as nonstandard proppants was recently applied in gas wells producing from sandstone formations in Saudi Arabia. This paper presents the theory behind the new fracturing design and summarizes the main results and recommendations.

Sand quality-control lab tests were required prior to using Saudi Arabian sand as a propping agent in fracturing gas wells. The sand samples were analyzed for particle sizes, bulk densities, and compressive strengths. Well selection to apply the fracturing stimulation was then made based on a geomechanical criterion for the reservoir rock and the well's production performance. The treatment design utilized a channel-fracturing technique where the solids used comprised of roughly 65% natural sand and 35% ceramic proppants.

The results show successful placement of the fracturing treatment into the formation. Despite sand crushing, the data show reasonable stimulation results and productivity enhancements. A number of important findings were also realized based on the analysis of the production performance, the reservoir transient pressure data, and the recovered solids and liquids.

The discussions shared in this work including analysis of field data yielded important findings and recommendations. Particularly, the concept of applying nonstandard proppants, such as silica sand for hydraulic fracturing treatments is proven feasible. Overall, the new fracturing technique shows considerable potentials for sufficient process optimization and utilization of abundant resources in production operations.

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