Improvement of Fracturing for Gas Shales

Project Information

RPSEA Project No. 07122-38-UT-Mohanty
Project Title: Improvement of Fracturing for Gas Shales
Starting Date: April 29, 2009
OSP No. 200900227-004
PI: Kishore K. Mohanty (mohanty@mail.utexas.edu)
Co-PI: Dr. Ali Daneshy, Dr. T. J. Pisklak, and Dr. Q. Qu

Abstract

As the global demand for energy (and thus carbon emission) rises and the discovery of new hydrocarbon resources drops, the recovery from unconventional gas resources become increasingly important. Gas shales, tight gas, and coal-bed methane are important natural gas resources (~300 Tcf reserve) for United States. The key issue slowing down the development gas shales is the connectivity between the pore space and the wellbore.

Hydraulic fracturing if successful provides this connectivity and has improved the economic viability of many wells in the Barnett shale in the Fort Worth basin, but the reliability of the fracturing needs to be improved. Damage caused by the fracturing fluid and limited fracture length has limited the productivity of the fractured wells. The need for large quantities of water and disposal of fracture fluids has adverse environmental effect. The goal of this proposal is to develop non-damaging fracturing fluids (and proppants) for gas shale reservoirs that also minimize water use and disposal fluids and demonstrate their performance by field tests. Use of ultra-light weight proppants will be combined with foams to maximize fracture length, minimize formation damage, minimize use of water in fracturing and minimize disposal of fluids.

There will be two phases: fluid development and field demonstration. The first phase would include five tasks. The first phase would include determination of physical / mechanical properties of ultra-low density proppant developed by BJ services at different closure stress and temperature environments, development of conventional as well as foam fracturing fluids with emphasis on low liquid content, environmental sensitivity and reduced use of polymers, and engineering methodology for fracture treatments in Barnett shale gas fields. The second phase would include field demonstration of fracture treatments and post-fracture treatment evaluation.

Development of non-damaging fracture treatment for gas shale reservoirs would open up hundreds of TCF of natural gas for production. Major participants of this study would be BJ Services (innovative fracturing fluids and ultra-light weight proppants), Daneshy Consultants (the experience of fracture design) and University of Houston (formation damage and enhanced recovery).

Reports

Progress Report, Nov. 2009 (1.3 MB PDF file)