Improving Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Through Dual Polymer Technology

Almubarak, Tariq (Texas A&M University) | Ng, Jun Hong (Texas A&M University) | Sokhanvarian, Khatere (Sasol Performance Chemicals, Texas A&M) | AlKhaldi, Mohammed (Saudi Aramco EXPEC ARC) | Nasr-El-Din, Hisham (Texas A&M University)



As exploration for oil and gas continues, it becomes necessary to produce from formations that are deeper, have low permeability, and higher temperature. Conventionally, guar and its derivatives have been successfully utilized as hydraulic fracturing fluids. However, they require higher polymer loading to withstand the high-temperature environments. This leads to an increase in mixing time and additive requirements. Most importantly, they do not break completely and generate residual polymer fragments that can plug the formation and reduce fracture conductivity significantly.

In this work, a new hybrid dual polymer hydraulic fracturing fluid is developed for high-temperature applications. The fluid consists of a guar derivative and a polyacrylamide-based synthetic polymer. Compared to conventional fracturing fluids, this new system is easily hydrated, requires fewer additives, can be mixed on the fly, and is capable of maintaining excellent rheological performance at low polymer loadings.

The polymer mixture solutions were prepared at concentrations ranging from 20 to 40 lb/1,000 gal at a ratio of 2:1, 1:1, and 1:2. The fluids were crosslinked with a metallic crosslinker and broken with an oxidizer at 300-350°F. Testing focused on crosslinker to polymer ratio analysis to effectively lower loading while maintaining sufficient performance to carry proppant at these harsh conditions. HP/HT rheometer was used to measure viscosity and elastic modulus. HP/HT see-through cell was utilized for proppant settling.

Results indicate that the dual polymer fracturing fluid is able to generate stable viscosity at 300-350°F and 100 s-1. Results show that the dual polymer fluid can generate higher viscosity compared to the individual single polymer system. Also, properly understanding and tuning the crosslinker to polymer ratio generates excellent performance even at 20 lb/1,000 gal. The two polymers form a shared crosslinking network that improves proppant carrying capacity at lower polymer loadings and high temperatures. It also demonstrates a clean and controlled break performance with an oxidizer.

The major benefit of using a mixed polymer system is to reduce polymer loading at harsher conditions. Lower loading is highly desirable because it reduces material cost, eases field operation and lowers damage to the fracture face, proppant pack and formation.