Field Scale Proppant Transport Simulation and Its Application to Optimize Stimulation Strategy
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Copyright 2018, Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC). Understanding proppant transport plays a critical role in estimating propped fracture dimensions and performance. Existing models generally assume a vertical planar geometry, whereas the reality in the subsurface may be much more complex. In this study, we use the discrete element method to simulate proppant transport in a 3D fracture system. The system geometry involves a hydraulic fracture intersecting preexisting natural fractures. In the numerical investigations for this study, we consider different natural fracture apertures and intersection, as well as proppant of various sizes and concentrations. By analyzing the proppant distribution in both the hydraulic fractures (HF) and natural fractures (NF), we identified the conditions under which continuous flow of proppants can be achieved. Our results show that large apertures of the natural fractures are critical in achieving continuous proppant transport. Narrow natural fractures increase the particle-particle and particle-wall interaction, thus causing blockage at the intersection of HFs and NFs, and, consequently, limiting the proppant transport efficiency and the fracture effectiveness. However, our results show that the proppant concentration can influence its transport efficiency by alleviating the blockage at these HF and NF intersections. Thus, injecting fluid with low proppant concentration can wash out the proppant pack accumulated at these points and relieve the blockage, leading to improved proppant placement efficiency in the fractures.
author list (cited authors)
Kou, R., Moridis, G. J., & Blasingame, T.
complete list of authors
Kou, Rui||Moridis, George J||Blasingame, Tom