Theoretical Analysis and Experimental Research of Channel Fracturing in Unconventional Reservoir

Hou, Tengfei (China University of Petroleum, CUPB) | Zhang, Shicheng (China University of Petroleum, CUPB) | Yu, Baihui (China University of Petroleum, CUPB) | Lv, Xinrun (China University of Petroleum, CUPB) | Zhang, Jingchen (Heriot-Watt University) | Han, Jingyu (China University of Petroleum, CUPB) | Li, Dong (China University of Petroleum, CUPB)



Channel fracturing, which greatly increase fracture conductivity by the creation of open channels inside fracture, has proved to be a novel stimulation technology that widely used in unconventional reservoir. The objective of this paper is to study the stimulation mechanism of channel fracturing by the combination of theoretical analysis and experimental research. However, for channel fracturing scenario, the currently available models are not accurate and appropriate in terms of prediction of proppant embedment and fracture conductivity in channel fracturing.

In this paper, new analytical models are derived to compute the proppant embedment, proppant deformation and fracture conductivity in channel fracturing. The mass deformation model and creeping deformation model are adopted to predict the change of proppant embedment and fracture conductivity over time. Many factors affecting the results of proppant embedment and conductivity, including closure pressure, elastic-plastic properties, properties of viscoelastic proppant and rock are investigated. Experimental researches are also conducted to evaluate conductivity at different closure pressures for the fractures of steel plate, shale and sandstone. Besides, the proppant embedment and proppant deformation are measured through the proppant embedment testing instrument, and the proppant distribution before and after experiments are comparatively analyzed.

The results show that the new analytical model proposed fits well with the experimental data, which verifies the accuracy and the feasibility of this model, though the decline rate of experimental data is a little bit faster than that of the model. The fracture conductivity is directly proportional to proppant viscosity, elastic modulus of proppant and inversely proportional to closure pressure, while elastic modulus of rock and large value of formation rock viscosity have slight impact on fracture conductivity. Moreover, the steady state of conductivity has been studied, and Comparisons between channel fracturing and conventional fracturing are analyzed in several aspects. The experimental results also reveal that the overall dimensions of created open channel may decrease or disappear due to the forced of formation stress.

Technical innovations in this paper are (a) new analytical models, including the mass deformation model and creeping deformation model, are adopted to predict the change of proppant embedment and fracture conductivity (b) Experimental tests are also performed to measure conductivity and proppant embedment at different closure pressures. This paper can demonstrate its own merits to show the advantage of channel fracturing technology.