The productivity and economics of horizontal wells are governed by the ability of the transverse fractures to communicate efficiently with the wellbore, which is strongly controlled by the conductivity of the proppant bed and the effectiveness of the fluid additives. These impact the relative permeability, the capillary pressure and the effective conductivity in the proppant bed. If the wellbore is high in the fracture, gravity segregation will cause liquid removal from the lower portion of the fracture to be very difficult. In low conductivity proppant beds, capillary pressure will tend to retain high water saturations, thus lower the effective conductivity even for the portions of the fracture above the wellbore.
Laboratory and field studies are presented comparing various sizes and types of proppants and the influence of surfactants used in oil bearing formations including commonly used demulsifiers and a multi-phase complex nano fluid system. Ammot cell and centrifuge tests were used to evaluate imbibition of oil and water. Columns packed with proppant and formation cuttings are used to compare the effectiveness of various additives in allowing the displacement of water and establishing oil flow. Results are correlated with interfacial tension, contact angle, capillary pressures and surface energies of actual formation materials, oils and treating fluids from the Niobrara, Bakken, Granite Wash and Eagleford formations. Simulations are presented that show the impact of capillary pressure and oil viscosity on the displacement of fluids.
Field results from various fields including the Niobrara, Bakken, and Marcellus formations are presented. The normalized field data shows that wells with higher conductivity proppants and properly selected surfactant packages result in longer effective frac lengths and greater normalized oil and gas production. Correlations are made between the observed relative perms in the lab vs. the observed field results.