The coal permeability declines due to fracture closure during the production and pressure depletion. The recently proposed technique for stimulation of natural coal cleats consists of the injection of microsized high-strength particles into a coal natural fractured system below the fracturing pressure. Coupling this technique with hydraulic fracturing treatment resulted in particles entering cleats under leal-off condition. In the current paper it is shown that the particles must be deposited at specific conditions of the particle-coal repulsion, ensuring the absence of external cake formation.
The new method was successfully validated through laboratory injection of microsized glass particles into fractured coal cores. Application of Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory resulted in determination of experimental conditions favourable for particle-particle and particle-coal repulsion; these conditions also immobilize the natural fines. At these conditions, no particle attachment to coal surface and no particle agglomeration were observed, thus the conditions exclude formation damage due to external cake formation, particle attraction to coal rock and fines migration. The previously developed mathematical model was used for determination of the duration of particle injection into a coal core at minimum effective stress. Particle placement resulted in almost three-time increase in coal permeability, thus confirming the mathematical model used.
The curve for well productivity index-vs-stimulation zone radius reaches maximum at some critical value of stimulation radius; the maximum is determined by the mathematical model. Placing particles beyond this critical radius results in reduction of well productivity index, due to significant hydraulic losses experienced by suspension flowing through narrowing cleat apertures during production stage.
Applying the proposed novel technology during hydraulic fracturing treatment leads to improvement in productivity of coal seam gas wells and other unconventional resources (shales, tight gas and geothermal reservoirs) through enhancement of interconnectivity among microfractures around the hydraulically induced fractures.