Guar-based fluids are commonly used as fracturing fluids to form a filter cake, propagate the fracture and carry proppants during a typical hydraulic fracturing job. High viscosity during injection and degradation afterwards are the characteristics of a high quality fracturing fluid that can maintain a highly conductive fracture during production. In order to achieve a conductive fracture, cross-linkers and breakers are added to the fluid. Filter cakes form on the faces of the fracture during injection causing a major pressure drop between the fracture and the reservoir during the production. Degradation of filter cakes formed on fracture faces has been accomplished using chemical breakers Enzymes and oxidizers are the two main classes of breakers. Enzyme breakers have many advantages over chemical oxidizers: they are cheap, are not consumed during their catalytic reaction with guar, react only with the polymer, are environmentally benign, easy to handle and do not damage wellhead equipment.

Different methods of injecting high concentration breakers are still not capable of degrading the residues left after the fracturing jobs. Permeability reduction of proppant pack due to gel residues, width loss caused by the unbroken gel on fracture face and length loss caused by incomplete degradation of filter cake near the tip of the fractures have been previously reported. It has been previously proven that polyethylenimine-dextran sulfate (PEI-DS) nanoparticles can delay the release of enzymes which reduce the viscosity of cross linked guar. This delayed release can be advantageous in order to inject higher concentrations of enzymes by encapsulating the enzyme inside nanoparticles. However, performance of these nanoparticles in reaction with high concentration filter cakes has not been studied yet.

The main objective of this work is to study the feasibility of using polyelectrolyte complex nanoparticles as enzyme breaker carriers and fluid loss additives to be used for hydraulic fracturing applications. Specifically, the fluid loss prevention and clean-up capabilities of the nanoparticle system for fractures propagated in tight formations are studied.

Static fluid loss tests showed a significant reduction, caused by PEC nanoparticles, in both fluid loss coefficients and fluid loss volumes of tight core plugs with permeability values within the 0.01-0.1 mD range.

Fracture conductivity tests, both fluid loss and clean-up, were conducted using HPG gel, HPG gel mixed with enzyme, and HPG gel mixed with enzyme-loaded nanoparticle systems and the results were compared with the baseline conductivity of the system. Significant improvement in the retained conductivity of the proppant pack was observed using the enzyme-loaded nanoparticle system.

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