Historically, the go-to means of reducing fluid leakoff during a hydraulic fracture stimulation was to add 100 mesh sand to the frac fluid. However, in Unconventionals more and more operators are looking to 100-mesh proppants – and even smaller size proppants – to prop open narrow fissures and natural fractures in order to maintain their flow potential when a well is produced.
Within this presentation, we will explore the potential benefits of 100-mesh-size proppant – as well as the potential drawbacks – in stimulation operations for Unconventionals. Consider that 100-mesh is often:
- A low cost (potentially the lowest cost) option for proppant that is believed to provide the necessary conductivity;
- A size that is most likely to navigate the variable aperture along the hydraulic fracture;
- A size that is most likely to be able to enter and prop open a natural fracture; and
- A size/density that is reasonably favorable for proppant transport.
In simplest terms, 100-mesh (and smaller) is the likely proppant candidate to be transported out into the hydraulic fracture and prop open natural fractures. The key being to prop open the natural fractures and retain their production contribution during pressure depletion.
Can it be that simple? And if so, why isn’t everyone using 100-mesh and why did the emphasis on 100-mesh not happen sooner? During the presentation, we will also consider the potential downside of smaller proppant sizes as well as consider operator experiences in pushing towards the use of more 100-mesh and smaller proppants.