A New Friction-Reducing Agent for Slickwater-Fracturing Treatments

Ibrahim, Ahmed F. (Texas A&M University) | Nasr-El-Din, Hisham A. (Texas A&M University) | Rabie, Ahmed (Solvay) | Lin, Genyao (Solvay) | Zhou, Jian (Solvay) | Qu, Qi (Solvay)



Friction reducers (FRs) represent an essential component in any slickwater-fracturing fluid. Although the majority of previous research on these fluids has focused on evaluating the friction-reduction performance of chemical components, only a few studies have addressed the potential damage these chemicals can cause to the formation. Because of the polymeric nature of these chemicals—typically polyacrylamide (PAM)—an FR can either filter out onto the surface of the formation or penetrate deeply to plug the pores. In addition, breaking these polymers at temperatures lower than 200°F remains a problem. The present study introduces a new FR that replaces the linear gel with an enhanced proppant-carrying capacity and reduced potential for formation damage.

Friction-reduction performance, proppant settling, breakability, and coreflood experiments using tight sandstone cores at 150°F were conducted to investigate a new FR (FR1). The performance of the new FR was compared with two different FRs: a salt-tolerant polymer that is a copolymer of acrylamide and acrylamido-methylpropane sulfonate (FR2), and a guar-based polymer (FR3). Different breakers were used to examine the breakability of the three FRs, including ammonium persulfate (APS), sodium persulfate (SPS), hydrogen peroxide (HP), and sodium bromate (SB).

The friction reduction of the new chemical was higher than 70% in fresh water or 2 wt% potassium chloride (KCl) in the presence of calcium chloride (CaCl2) or choline chloride. The presence of 1 lbm/1,000 gal of different types of breakers did not affect the frictionreduction performance. The friction reduction of 1 gal/1,000 gal of the new FR1 was also higher than that of the guar-based FR3 at a load of 4 gal/1,000 gal at the same conditions. The results show that the new FR is breakable with any of the tested breakers. Among the four tested breakers, APS is the most-efficient breaker. Static and dynamic proppant-settling tests further indicated a superior performance of FR1 for proppant suspension compared with a PAM FR (FR2). Coreflood experiments showed that FR1 did not cause any residual damage to the core permeability when APS was used as a breaker, compared with 10% and 9% damage when FR2 and FR3 were tested, respectively. Coreflood tests also showed that FR1 is breakable using SB with only 2.5% damage, whereas FR2 and FR3 resulted in 47% and 41% damage, respectively. The results also show that higher salinity does not affect the breakability of the new FR.

The proposed FR shows higher friction-reduction performance and better proppant-carrying capacity with no formation damage, compared with the conventional counterparts. Hence, FR1 is a viable choice for application in fracturing formations with proppants.