Hydraulic fracturing is recognized as the primary technique to achieve economic oil and gas production from low permeability reservoirs like shale and tight-sand formations. One of the main challenges facing the oil and gas industry is maintaining the proppant functionality in the subsurface to guarantee a sustainable production rate and higher ultimate recovery. Proppant crushing and proppant embedment may diminish production from stimulated wells especially when bottomhole pressure is reaching low flowing pressures in soft and deep formations like Haynesville or Tuscaloosa Marine Shales. Experimental measurements and field observations have shown the strong impact of proppant stress and proppant embedment on reducing fracture conductivity. In this work, we introduce a novel material developed in order to achieve higher fracture conductivities at a minimum cost. The new type of proppants, so called “Expandable Proppants” (EP), is able to remotely control the expanding force and maintain the functionality of placed proppants. The presented proppants are made out of thermoset shape memory polymers which are activated by formation's in situ temperature to effectively maintain or even increase fracture's width. A fully coupled numerical model is developed to study the effectiveness of expandable proppants and evaluate fracture conductivity enhancement for different combinations and distributions of EP. In addition, a series of experiments were conducted in a modified API conductivity cell to verify the increase in fracture conductivity. Numerical and experimental results demonstrate that proppant expansion can increase the permeability up to 100%. Different conditions of confining stress and proppant sizes are studied to verify the optimum proppant design. This product can extend the lifetime of the fracture and ensure lasting production.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology