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As the stimulation of unconventional resources expands, a need has arisen for alternative fracturing fluids that offer advantages over traditional guar-based systems, particularly with regard to proppant pack cleanup and minimization of formation damage. Key parameters that would make a fluid system a preferable option over guar include the reduction of polymer necessary to achieve desired fluid stability, as well as the ability to viscosify diversified water sources, including produced water. Low-pH fracturing fluid systems which utilize a low residue polymer as the gelling agent have been developed to meet this need.
These new fluid systems are designed to accommodate hybrid fracturing designs, and to viscosify the variety of source waters employed in many locations. A linear gelling agent is utilized that provides rapid hydration rates in waters containing up to 110,000 mg/l total dissolved solids (TDS). Rapid hydration for the linear system occurs at a pH range of 5 to 11, eliminating the necessity for hydration buffers. The crosslinked system offers effective fluid stability at pH 5 with a temperature range of 125° to 250 °F, polymer loadings as low as 12 lbm/Mgal, and stability in produced waters containing 110,000 mg/l TDS. Linear gel systems offer hydration rates of less than 3 minutes at 40°F in 2% KCl brine. This minimizes the volume of fresh water required while maintaining the necessary frac fluid parameters. This presentation will discuss the technical and operational advantages of these fluid systems versus guar in various water sources, including produced water mixtures. The impact on productivity and formation compatibility relative to currently used fluid systems will also be covered.