A Novel Thermochemical Fracturing Approach to Reduce Fracturing Pressure of High Strength Rocks

Al-Nakhli, Ayman (Saudi Aramco) | Tariq, Zeeshan (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals) | Mahmoud, Mohamed (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals) | Abdulraheem, Abdulazeez (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals) | Al-Shehri, Dhafer (King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals)

OnePetro 

Abstract

Current global energy needs require best engineering methods to extract hydrocarbon from unconventional resources. Unconventional resources mostly found in highly stressed and deep formations, where the rock strength and integrity both are very high. The pressure at which rock fractures or simply breakdown pressure is directly correlated with the rock tensile strength and the stresses acting on them from surrounding formation. When fracturing these rocks, the hydraulic fracturing operation becomes much challenging and difficult, and in some scenarios reached to the maximum pumping capacity limits. This reduces the operational gap to create hydraulic fractures.

In the present research, a novel thermochemical fracturing approach is proposed to reduce the breakdown pressure of the high-strength rocks. The new approach not only reduces the breakdown pressure but also reduces the breakdown time and makes it possible to fracture the high strength rocks with more conductive fractures. Thermochemical fluids used can create microfractures, improves permeability, porosity, and reduces the elastic strength of the tight rocks. By creating microfractures and improving the injectivity, the required breakdown pressure can be reduced, and fractures width can be enhanced. The fracturing experiments presented in this study were conducted on different cement specimen with different cement and sand ratio mixes, corresponds to the different minerology of the rock. Similar experiments were also conducted on different rocks such as Scioto sandstone, Eagle Ford shale, and calcareous shale. Moreover, the sensitivity of the bore hole diameter in cement block samples is also presented to see the effect of thermochemical on breakdown pressure reduction.

The experiments showed the presence of micro-fractures originated from the pressure pulses raised in the thermochemical fracturing. The proposed thermochemical fracturing method resulted in the reduction of breakdown pressure to 38.5 % in small hole diameter blocks and 60.5 % in large hole diameter blocks. Other minerology rocks also shown the significant reduction in breakdown pressure due to thermochemical treatments.