Proppant Backproduction During Hydraulic Fracturing-A New Failure Mechanism for Resin-Coated Proppants
- R-J. Vreeburg (Shell Research B.V.) | L.P. Roodhart (Shell Research B.V.) | D.R. Davies (Shell Research B.V.) | G.S. Penny (Stim-Lab Inc.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 1994
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 884 - 889
- 1994. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.4.10 Microbial Methods, 3.2.5 Produced Sand / Solids Management and Control, 1.8 Formation Damage, 3 Production and Well Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 4.3.4 Scale, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 2.5.2 Fracturing Materials (Fluids, Proppant), 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 2 Well Completion
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Backproduction of proppant from hydraulically fractured wells, particularly those completed in the northern European Rotliegend formation, is a major operational problem, necessitating costly and manpower-intensive surface-handling procedures. Further, the development of unmanned platform operations offshore, required in today's economic climate, is impossible as long as this problem remains unsolved. The most cost-effective potential solution to this problem is provided by curable resin-coated proppant (RCP), which consolidates in the fracture. Early field trials with RCP's, however, were not completely effective in stopping the backproduction of proppant. Typically, some 10% of the total volume of RCP placed in the fracture was backproduced.
Two types of RCP backproduction were identified: during well cleanup (Type A) and after a long period of proppant-free production (Type B). Type A is believed to be caused by an insufficient strength buildup of the RCP pack. The influence of factors affecting RCP pack strength buildup-resin type, reservoir (curing) temperature, resin/fracturing-fluid interaction (under shear and temperature), and erosion of the resin from the proppant grains, which can reduce the RCP pack strength-have been studied in the laboratory.
Type B proppant backproduction was suspected to be caused by a previously unobserved phenomenon: damage resulting from stress cycling that the proppant pack undergoes each time the well is shut in and put back on production. Further, the applied stress increases as the drawdown is increased and the formation is depleted.
We performed a laboratory study to help clarify the effect of curing temperature, water production rate, proppant size, and stress cycling on the integrity of RCP packs. The experiments confirmed the field experience that stress cycling has a dramatic effect on proppant backproduction of commercial RCP packs. The number of applied stress cycles (i.e., the number of times the well is shut in) and the initial RCP pack strength appear to be the dominant factors that govern proppant backproduction. Dedicated experiments are therefore required to evaluate the use of RCP's to eliminate proppant backproduction for a particular field application.
Sand production is an operational problem that has plagued oil and gas wells producing from clastic formations since the early days of the oil industry. By contrast, proppant backproduction is found only in wells where hydraulically created fractures have been packed with (large) volumes of proppant. The proppant pack is unrestrained at the fracture mouth; once proppant grains enter the wellbore, they can be brought to surface with the well fluids. Such backproduction of proppant from hydraulically fractured wells, particularly those completed in the northern European Rotliegend formation, is a major operational problem. It necessitates costly and manpower-intensive surface-handling procedures (viz., the daily dumping of proppant) and on-site control of the chokes when beaning up the wells. Further, erosion of well and surface facilities presents a safety hazard, and proppant remaining in the wellbore can shut off production by covering the productive interval. Consequently, the development of unmanned platform operations offshore, required in today's economic climate, is impossible as long as significant proppant backproduction occurs. Incidentally, a similar tendency for hydraulically fractured wells to backproduce proppant is observed in Alaskan operations; however, owing to the different conditions (onshore oil production), the approach adopted there is "to live with it."
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