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Abstract Uniformity of proppant distribution among multiple perforation clusters affects treatment efficiency in multistage fractured wells stimulated using the plug-and-perf technique. Multiple physical phenomena taking place in the well and perforation tunnels can cause uneven proppant distribution among multiple clusters. The problem has been studied in the recent years with experimental and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) methods, which provide useful insights but are impractical for routine designs. Simplified models that incorporated the proppant transport efficiency (PTE) correlation derived from the CFD results in a hydraulic fracture model have been also presented in literature. In this paper, we present a numerical model that simulates the transient proppant slurry flow in the wellbore, considering proppant transport and settling including bed formation, rate- and concentration-dependent pressure drop, PTE, and dynamic pressure coupling with the hydraulic fractures. The model is efficient and is designed to be an independent wellbore transport model so it can be integrated with any fracture models, including fully 3D and/or complex fracture network models, for practical design optimization. The model predictions are compared and found to agree with previously published studies. Parametric studies demonstrate sensitivity of proppant distribution to grain size, fluid viscosity, and pumping rate for fixed perforation designs. Analysis of the simulation results shows that the dominant cause of uneven proppant distribution is proppant inertia. Possible slurry stratification is less important, except for the cases with relatively low flow rates and near toe clusters. Accordingly, proppant distribution is less sensitive to perforation phasing than to the number of perforations in clusters. Alterations of the number of perforations per cluster within a stage enable achieving more even proppant distribution.
Abstract The application of high viscosity friction reducers (HVFRs) in unconventional plays has steadily increased over the past years, not only as alternatives to conventional friction reducers (FRs) but also as a direct replacement for the use of guar-based fluids. HVFRs demonstrate more efficient proppant transport, due to their unique rheological properties, concurrently with a high friction reduction effect allowing higher pumping rates. However, all these benefits come with few critical limitations related to frac water quality, compatibility with other additives, and static proppant suspension, which makes them very similar to conventional crosslinked gels regarding their Quality Assurance and Quality Control (QAQC) requirements at a well location during the field implementation. This paper illustrates the comprehensive laboratory efforts undertaken to evaluate different HVFR and crosslinked gel products, their successful field application supported by a robust and effective field QAQC process, and the critical importance of maintaining effective field-laboratory-field interaction/cycle to optimize the fluid design and maximize the results. Experimental studies on different products were conducted to measure the effect of frac water quality, HVFR loading, breaker loading, and compatibility with other additives used in the fluid recipe such as surfactants, scale inhibitors, and biocides. The ability of HVFR to suspend and transport proppant is not only a function of polymer loading but also highly influenced by fluid velocity as static and semi-dynamic proppant suspension tests demonstrate. Additionally, a full dynamic proppant transport test was also conducted using a multi-branched slot apparatus to simulate the flow inside a complex fracture network. Field execution followed a strict QAQC protocol including water analysis, field laboratory tests, water filtration, mixing procedure, product storage, and transport allowing direct onsite replication of the results that had been previously obtained in the laboratory. Constant communication between the field and the laboratory allowed a successful execution of several treatments in a challenging shale play in the Sichuan Region, China. These treatments achieved record proppant placements and, just as importantly, they demonstrated repeatability and consistency over time; which had not previously been attained. Laboratory testing proved critical in confirming that product segregation was occurring, even if there was no visual observation of this phenomenon, which had resulted in initial difficulties in fluid quality and reliability. The presence of constant QAQC engineering support on location was instrumental in rapidly identifying the potential root cause(s) and efficiently and correctly applying the necessary corrective actions. This paper will highlight the importance of laboratory testing, in order to design and optimize the fluid system. The paper will also demonstrate how critical the onsite QAQC is through actual examples of fluid optimization and field implementation. These two activities, although requiring a substantial resource commitment and effort, are both required to achieve successful execution.
Abstract A unique well-tracing design for three horizontally drilled wells is presented utilizing proppant tracers and water- and hydrocarbon-soluble tracers to evaluate multiple completion strategies. Results are combined to present an interpretation of them in the reservoir as a whole, where applicable, as well as on an individual well basis. The new approach consists of tracing the horizontal well(s) leaving unchanged segments along the wellbore to obtain relevant control group results not available otherwise. The application of the tracers throughout each wellbore was designed to mitigate or counterbalance variables out of the controllable completion engineering parameters such as heterogeneity along the wellbores, existing reservoir depletion, intra- and inter-well hydraulically driven interactions (frac hits) as well as to minimize any unloading and production biases. Completion strategies are provided, and all the evaluation methodologies are described in detail to permit readers to replicate the approach. One field case study with five horizontal wells is presented. Three infill wells were drilled between two primary wells of varying ages. All wells are shale oil wells with approximately 7,700 ft lateral sections. The recovery of each tracer is compared between the surfactant treated and untreated segments on each well and totalized to see how the petroleum reservoir system is performing. A complete project economic analysis was performed to determine the viability of a chemical additive (a production enhancement surfactant). Meticulous analysis and interpretation of the proppant image logs were performed to discern the cluster stimulation efficiency during the hydraulic fracturing treatments. Furthermore, comparisons of the cluster stimulation efficiency between the two mesh sizes of proppant pumped are also provided for each of the three new unconventional well completions. The most significant new findings are the surfactant effects on the wells’ production performance, and the impact the engineered perforations with tapered shots along the stages had on the stimulation efficiency. Both the right chemistry for the formation and higher cluster stimulation efficiencies are important because they can lead to increased well oil production. The novelty of this tracing design methodology rests in the ability to generate results with a statistically relevant sample size, therefore, increasing the confidence in the conclusions and course of action in future well completions.
Ferrar, Joseph (DuPont Microbial Control) | Maun, Philip (DuPont Microbial Control) | Wunch, Kenneth (DuPont Microbial Control) | Moore, Joseph (DuPont Microbial Control) | Rajan, Jana (DuPont Microbial Control) | Raymond, Jon (DuPont Microbial Control) | Solomon, Ethan (DuPont Microbial Control) | Paschoalino, Matheus (DuPont Microbial Control)
Abstract We report the design, operation and biogenic souring data from a first-of-its kind suite of High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) Bioreactors for hydraulically fractured shale reservoirs. These bioreactors vet the ability of microbial control technologies, such as biocides, to prevent the onset of microbial contamination and reservoir souring at larger experimental volumes and higher pressures and temperatures than have been previously possible outside of field trials. The bioreactors were charged with proppant, crushed Permian shale, and sterile simulated fracturing fluids (SSFF). Subsets of bioreactors were charged with SSFF dosed with either no biocide, tributyl tetradecyl phosphonium chloride (TTPC, a cationic surface-active biocide), or 4,4-dimethyloxazolidine (DMO, a preservative biocide). The bioreactors were shut in under 1,000-2,500 psi and elevated temperatures for up to fifteen weeks; hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and microbial counts were measured approximately once per week, and additional microbes were introduced after weeks three and five. Across two separate studies, the bioreactors containing no biocide soured within the first week of shut-in and H2S concentrations increased rapidly beyond the maximum detectable level (343 ppm) within the first three to six weeks of shut-in. In the first study, the bioreactors treated with TTPC soured within two weeks of shut-in (prior to the first addition of fresh microbes), and H2S concentrations increased rapidly to nearly 200 ppm H2S within the first six weeks of shut-in and beyond the maximum detectable level after fifteen weeks of shut-in. The bioreactors containing DMO did not sour during either study until at least the first addition of fresh microbes, and higher levels of the preservative biocide continued to prevent the biogenic formation of H2S even during and after the addition of fresh microbes. Microbial counts correlate with the H2S readings across all bioreactor treatments. The differentiation in antimicrobial activity afforded by the different types of biocide treatments validates the use of these simulated laboratory reservoirs as a biocide selection tool. This first-of-its-kind suite of HPHT Bioreactors for hydraulic fracturing provides the most advanced biocide selection tool developed for the hydraulic fracturing industry to date. The bioreactors will guide completions and stimulation engineers in biocide program optimization under reservoir-relevant conditions prior to beginning lengthy and expensive field trials.
Abstract As our industry is tapping into tighter carbonate reservoirs than in the past, completion techniques need to be improved to stimulate the low-permeability carbonate formation. Multistage acid fracturing technique has been developed in recent years and proved to be successful in some carbonate reservoirs. A multistage acid fracturing job is to perform several stages of acid fracturing along a horizontal well. The goal of acid fracturing operations is to create enough fracture roughness through differential acid etching on fracture walls such that the acid fracture can keep open and sustain a high enough acid fracture conductivity under the closure stress. In multistage acid fracturing treatments, acid flow is in a radial flow scenario and the acid etching process can be different from acid fracturing in vertical wells. In order to accurately predict the acid-fracture conductivity, a detailed description of the rough acid-fracture surfaces is required. In this paper, we developed a 3D acid transport model to compute the geometry of acid fracture for multistage acid fracturing treatments. The developed model couples the acid fluid flow, reactive transport and rock dissolution in the fracture. We also included acid viscous fingering in our model since viscous fingering mechanism is commonly applied in multistage acid fracturing to achieve non-uniform acid etching. Our simulation results reproduced the acid viscous fingering phenomenon observed from experiments in the literature. During the process of acid viscous fingering, high-conductivity channels developed in the fingering regions. We modeled the acid etching process in multistage acid fracturing treatments and compared it with acid fracturing treatments in vertical wells. We found that due to the radial flow effect, it is more difficult to achieve non-uniform acid etching in multistage acid fracturing treatments than in vertical wells. We investigated the effects of perforation design and pad fluid viscosity on multistage acid fracturing treatments. We need to have an adequate number of perforations in order to develop non-uniform acid etching. We found that a higher viscosity pad fluid helps acid to penetrate deeper in the fracture and result in a longer and narrower etched channel.
Abstract Proppant transport in horizontal wellbores has received significant industry focus over the past decade. One of the most challenging tasks in the hydraulic fracturing of a horizontal well is to predict the proppant concentration that enters each perforation cluster within the same stage. The main objective of this research is to investigate the effect of different limited-entry perforation configurations on proppant transport, settling, and distribution across different perforation clusters in multistage horizontal wells. To simulate a fracturing stage in a horizontal wellbore, a laboratory-based 30-foot horizontal clear apparatus with three perforation clusters is used. Fresh water (~1 cp) is utilized as the carrier fluid to transport the proppant. This research incorporates the effect of testing three different injection rates each at four different proppant concentrations on proppant transport. Different limited-entry perforation configurations are also used to test the perforation effect on proppant transport using similar injection rates and proppant concentrations for the same proppant size. The proppant is mixed with fresh water in a 200-gallon tank for at least 10 minutes to ensure the consistency of the slurry mixture. The mixture is then injected into the transparent horizontal wellbore through a slurry pump. This laboratory apparatus also includes a variable frequency drive, a flow meter, and two pressure transducers located right before the first two perforation clusters. Sieve analysis is conducted to understand the ability of fresh water to carry bigger particles of the mixture at different injection rates, proppant concentrations, and perforation configurations. The results show different fluid and proppant distributions occur when altering the perforation configurations, injection rates, and proppant concentrations. The effect of gravity is extreme when using a limited entry configuration at each cluster (1 SPF) located at the bottom of the pipe, especially at low injection rates, resulting in uneven proppant distribution with a heal-biased distribution. However, even proppant distribution is observed by changing the limited entry perforation configuration to the top of the horizontal pipe at similar injection rates and low proppant concentration. Increasing the proppant concentration reduces the void spaces between the particles and pushes them away toward the toe cluster. Even proppant distribution is also observed across the three perforation clusters when using high flow rates and a 2 SPF perforation configuration located at both the top and the bottom of the pipe. The results of the sieve analyses show different size distributions of the settled and exited proppant through different perforations and clusters. This illustrates the ability of fresh water to transport different percentages of different proppant sizes to different perforations and clusters within a single stage. Frequently, the injected proppant is assumed to be distributed evenly across the perforation clusters and that the distribution of fluid and proppant is identical. However, this research adds data to the portfolio that this assumption is generally not valid. Additionally, the distribution of the transported proppant is observed to be different across individual clusters and different perforations within each cluster. Such information is beneficial to understanding transport in horizontal, multi-stage completions and how such impacts the overall treatment efficiency, especially when employing limited-entry perforation techniques.
John, Blevins (Hibernia Resources) | Van Domelen, Mark (Downhole Chemical Solutions) | West, Zach (Downhole Chemical Solutions) | Rall, Jason (Downhole Chemical Solutions) | Wakefield, Drake (Downhole Chemical Solutions)
Abstract Since the early development of unconventional resource plays, slickwater fracturing fluids have expanded rapidly and are now the most common type of fluid system used in the industry. Slickwater and viscosifying friction reducer (VFR) fluids consist of polyacrylamide (PAM) polymers and are typically delivered to location in a liquid form such as a suspension or emulsion in a hydrocarbon-based carrier fluid. Recently, advances in dry powder delivery operations have provided unique advantages over the liquid versions of FRs including cost savings and improved health, safety and environmental (HSE) aspects. This paper describes the dry powder delivery process and describes the advantages that this new technology has brought to field operations. The method involves delivering polyacrylamide powder for slickwater fracturing treatments directly into the source water on location, thereby eliminating the use of liquid polymer slurries or emulsions. Liquid friction reducers typically contain 20-30% active polymer loading, with the remaining volume being the carrier fluid to keep the polymer in suspension. By delivering 100% powder, several benefits are gained including elimination of truck deliveries of FR liquids to location, reduction of total chemical volumes by 70-80%, reduction of spill hazards, and lower overall chemical costs. Different powders are available for various applications including the use of fresh or produced water, and viscosifying or non-viscosifying polymers. The key technology for "dry on the fly" (DOTF) operations is the powder delivery equipment. Due to the different molecular structures between polyacrylamide and guar polymers, delivering PAM is more technically challenging than guar and requires much higher mixing energy to achieve proper dispersion and hydration. The delivery system described in this paper uses a unique technology which creates the necessary conditions for powder mixing and has been successfully applied on over 350 wells since early 2019, with over 7,000 tons of polymer delivered.
Shahri, Mojtaba (Apache Corp.) | Tucker, Andrew (Apache Corp.) | Rice, Craig (Apache Corp.) | Lathrop, Zach (Apache Corp.) | Ratcliff, Dave (ResFrac) | McClure, Mark (ResFrac) | Fowler, Garrett (ResFrac)
Abstract In the last decade, we have observed major advancements in different modeling techniques for hydraulic fracturing propagation. Direct monitoring techniques such as fibre-optics can be used to calibrate these models and significantly enhance our understanding of subsurface processes. In this study, we present field monitoring observations indicating consistently oriented, planar fractures in an offset-well at different landing zones in the Permian basin. Frac hit counts, location, and timing statistics can be compiled from the data using offset wells at different distances and depths. The statistics can be used to calibrate a detailed three-dimensional fully coupled hydraulic fracturing and reservoir simulator. In addition to these high-level observations, detailed fibre signatures such as strain response during frac arrival to the monitoring well, post shut-in frac propagation and frac speed degradation with length can be modeled using the simulator for further calibration purposes. Application to frac modeling calibration is presented through different case studies. The simulator was used to directly generate the ‘waterfall plot’ output from the fibre-optic under a variety of scenarios. The history match to the large, detailed synthetic fibre dataset provided exceptional model calibration, enabling a detailed description of the fracture geometry, and a high-confidence estimation of key model parameters. The detailed synthetic fibre data generated by the simulator were remarkably consistent with the actual data. This indicates a good consistency with classical analytical fracture mechanics predictions and further confirm the interpretation of planar fracture propagation. This study shows how careful integration of offset-well fibre-optic measurements can provide detailed characterization of fracture geometry, growth rate, and physics. The result is a detailed picture of hydraulic fracture propagation in the Midland Basin. The comparison of the waterfall plot simulations and data indicate that hydraulic fractures can, in fact, be very well modeled as nearly-linear cracks (the ‘planar fracture modeling’ approach).
Abstract Early hydraulic fracturing completions in the Vaca Muerta Formation in central Argentina have incorporated the use of conventional fluid systems, such as linear and crosslinked guar-based polymers. Within the past few years, however, the benefits of viscosifying friction reducers (VFR) have been demonstrated in the industry, predominantly within the United States. The objective of this project was to trial the VFR fluid technology in fracturing operations in this area for potential use for full field development. After studying the potential advantages of the VFR technology including cost savings, simplified operations and enhanced well production, a project was initiated to determine if those same benefits could be obtained. To accomplish this, studies were performed to ensure economic and technical justification through a stepwise process of laboratory testing, logistical and operational considerations, a single well field trial, and a five well development phase evaluation project. The pilot project was performed on a horizontal, 27 stage lateral in the Aguada Pichana Oeste field in the Neuquen Basin of Argentina. The five well development phase evaluation project was performed in the Lindero Atravesado field. Positive laboratory test results led to a field trial using this technology, during which several benefits of the VFR fluid system began to emerge. Operational efficiency was an early success, including a reduction in the quantity of chemicals on location, more simplified pumping schedules, and low pumping pressures. Secondly, significant cost savings were realized compared to previous fluid system packages. Finally, positive production results were observed, leading to the decision to incorporate this technology into full field development operations. This paper will review the results of the stepwise evaluation process along with a focus on the economic benefits and well production from the development phase evaluation project. This paper describes the transition by Pan American Energy (PAE) from conventional fracturing fluids to viscosifying friction reducer (VFR) technology in the Vaca Muerta Formation. The paper highlights the performance of a relatively new treatment fluid which delivered positive results in a strategic international asset. The project has led to full field development using this technology. The same efficiencies provided by this system can potentially be realized through applications in other basins.
Abstract The Delaware Basin encompasses 6.4 million acres throughout Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas. With large players such as ExxonMobil, Shell or Oxy typically grabbing headlines, it's easy to forget the multitude of smaller public and private E&P operators who exist in and around the acreage positions of the aforementioned companies. Regardless of the size of the acreage holding, a consistent theme is that a typical horizontal well drilled and completed (D&C) will yield water cuts of 60-90% at any given period in its productive lifespan. Saltwater production, handling and disposal (SWD) is a drag on lease operating expenses (LOE). SWD costs via trucking, pipeline, or on-lease SWD wells can range between $0.50-$3.00/bbl. As existing infrastructure is exhausted, water handling costs have been projected to rise to over $5.00/bbl. Additionally, restricted access to SWD could cause production curtailments and thus impacting operators beyond direct LOE. Well completion operations are impacted by freshwater procurement costs starting around $0.75/bbl. Regardless of final frac design, water consumption during fracturing operations typically exceeds 500,000 bbls or $375,000 per well. Significant value exists for recycling produced water via an on-lease pit and utilizing it for future frac operations. The produced water turns into an asset if the operator can efficiently manage to substitute higher and higher percentages of freshwater with produced water. Many smaller operators (defined as less than 50,000 acres) may view produced water recycling as an operation best left to large E&P's with their massive capital budgets and contiguous acreage. Fortunately, even a 5 well, section development plan can yield returns from an on-lease produced water recycling program.