Recent research involving the modification of the mechanical properties of particles has resulted in the development of new materials with particle strengths suitable for application as fracturing proppants, while possessing much lower specific gravities than today’s commercial proppants. For example, whereas, the specific gravity of Ottawa sand is 2.65, various embodiments of these new proppant materials range from 1.25 to 2.0 and have thus been dubbed ultra-lightweight proppants.
Many potential benefits of the new ultra-lightweight proppants in hydraulic fracturing treatments are readily apparent. These include substantially reduced proppant settling, thus enabling potentially greater effective propped fracture lengths; utilization of lower viscosity frac fluids; and reduction of pumping rates.
This presentation will focus on the opportunities afforded to the stimulation design engineer by these new ultra-lightweight proppants.
Research results will be discussed and comparative data presented for created fracture geometry, propped fracture length, propped fracture surface area, settled proppant height and fracture conductivity. The data will illustrate how the use of these ultra-lightweight proppants can help to optimize fracturing treatments by increasing effective fracture lengths and ultimately well production.