Influences of Proppant Concentration and Fracturing Fluids on Proppant-Embedment Behavior for Inhomogeneous Rock Medium: An Experimental and Numerical Study
- Yunlong Tang (Monash University) | Pathegama G. Ranjinth (Monash University) | M. Samintha A. Perera (Melbourne University) | Tharaka D. Rathnaweera (Monash University)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Operations
- Publication Date
- November 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 666 - 678
- 2018.Society of Petroleum Engineers
- proppant embedment, fracturing fluids, proppant concentration
- 4 in the last 30 days
- 325 since 2007
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Proppant plays a vital role in hydraulic fracturing in tight oil/gas production because it helps to keep the fractures open during the production process. However, it is common for proppant embedment, the main type of proppant degradation, to occur under high compression load, which greatly reduces the fracture conductivity, and consequently reduces the production rate. During the process of hydraulic fracturing, the fracturing fluid only has the chance to contact and infiltrate the fractures that are in the top surface of the rock medium because of ultralow rock permeability and the short time of fluid existence, whereas the condition of other parts of the rock remain unchanged, creating inhomogeneity within the rock medium. Therefore, the present study conducted a comprehensive experimental and numerical evaluation to investigate the behavior of proppant for inhomogeneous rock media, considering the factors (effective stress, proppant concentration, and fracturing fluid) that affect proppant performance. According to the experimental results, increasing the proppant concentration reduces the proppant embedment, and, interestingly, the optimal proppant concentration is approximately 150% coverage. Furthermore, the influence of fracturing fluid on proppant embedment is more significant for high proppant concentrations, and the embedment under water-saturated conditions is higher than that under oil-saturated conditions. The numerical simulation achieved the same result as the experimental study, showing that 150% proppant coverage is the optimal proppant concentration to achieve the minimum proppant embedment. In addition, numerical modeling indicated that the inhomogeneity of the rock formation can also considerably enhance proppant embedment through differential settlement during compression.
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