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Petroleum & Petrochemical Engineering Journal




Friction reducers are a major additive in almost all water-based hydraulic fracturing fluids. Despite the important role they play in friction reduction during hydraulic fracturing, they pose a veritable threat to the permeability of tight reservoirs upon precipitation. In the industry today, the potential for such precipitation is seldom assessed and as a result, an additional contributor to the formation damage problem has been given little attention. In this work, the sensitivity and affinity of friction reducers to very low concentrations of ferric ions are exploited to provide a qualitative assessment of their propensity to precipitate in hydraulically fractured hydrocarbon reservoirs. Representative samples of produced water and a routinely utilized hydraulic fracturing fluid recipe were spiked with 50ppm Iron (III) trichloride and incubated for 24 hours in a water bath at 200 degrees Fahrenheit. The results showed that precipitation of friction reducers in fracturing fluid is highly likely at low concentrations of ferric ions. This precipitate formed turned from yellow to brown color over time upon heating. The test showed presence of fragmented/unfragmented Partially Hydrolyzed Polyacrylamide (PHPAM) in the produced water, with varying degrees of FR gel precipitation depending on the processing treatment given to the water used for hydraulic fracturing. Evidence for the presence of partially hydrolyzed polyacrylamide was demonstrated in one of the produced waters while the rest did not produce any discernable precipitates. The results indicate that formations with lower iron concentrations may be more vulnerable to Fe3+-PHPAM precipitation than those with higher ferric ion concentration. Therefore, to mitigate formation damage through precipitation of FRs during hydraulic fracturing, a routine iron stress test like the one described herein is required on both hydraulic fracturing fluid and produced water to determine the vulnerability of the reservoir to formation damage by fragmented/unfragmented anionic PHPAMs.







Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.