Controlling Proppant Wettability Leads to Increase Flowback Recovery and Flow in Frac-Packs
Recovery of frac-pack fluids is often poor in offshore operations. Large amounts of stimulation fluids left in the fracture may leak-off into the porous formation or block part of the proppant pack thus impairing hydrocarbon production. A typical frac-pack treatment fluid contains water-wetting surfactants to maximize flow-back fluids. However, the amounts recovered are still low and new methods are needed to improve well cleanup. Using a proppant that is neither oil nor water wet has the potential to solve some of these issues.
Proppant surfaces were permanently modified to a neutral wettability state. Molecules having both hydrophobic and oleophobic properties were covalently bonded to the oxide surfaces, leading to robust engineered interfaces with low surface energy thus potentially improving flow. To support this concept of neutral wettability proppant, laboratory studies were conducted to determine performance under flow and cleanup ability compared to native proppant surfaces. This neutral wettability proppant was also used in several completions in the Gulf of Mexico. Two case histories using the neutral wettability proppant are presented and compared with offset wells as well as performance laboratory data. Flowback data as well as production data are reported.
Laboratory results showed that the neutral wettability enhanced surfaces not only reduce water saturation but also improve oil movement. This demonstrates the ability of these materials to improve clean up and hydrocarbon flow within the proppant pack. When this proppant was applied in frac-pack completions it was observed that flow-back recovery was dramatically increased compared to offset wells that used similar proppant. Cleanup time was reduced allowing first oil to appear more rapidly. Furthermore, production data show that oil flow that the productivity index is higher when the surface of the proppant is neutral. These results demonstrate this material as next generation proppant for improving flow and cleanup in frac-pack completions.
Authors: Naima Bestaoui-Spurr (Baker Hughes a GE company) | Kevin Langlinais (Baker Hughes a GE company) | David Stanley (Baker Hughes a GE company) | Marty Usie (Baker Hughes a GE company) | Chunlou Li (Baker Hughes a GE company)