Hydraulic fracturing technology has experienced many different trends. Many of the changes are based on learnings using conventional fracture mechanisms and studies which captured the basic flow characteristics; however, it misses significant factors of unconventional fracture mechanisms including tortuosity, variable width, leak-off, and the ability for in-situ analysis of the materials after being pumped.
Unconventional fracture characteristics learnings from industry’s advanced field studies were included while defining the features of new comprehensive test equipment to represent the unconventional fracture mechanisms. This ultimately led to the construction of a large, sectional, 10’x20’ slot flow wall. The twenty-five sections of the wall were modified to accommodate a wide variety of testing regimes and flow patterns. To maximize learnings from each test, innovative test practices were applied such as, dying the frac sand of different mesh size groups to visualize the segregation of the proppant while pumping. The testing demonstrated a significant impact on proppant transport, dune generation, and dune structure after shut-in through a tortuous path with varying fracture width and leak-off ports as compared to standard slot flow test.
This talk discusses the need and development of new equipment with innovative features, application of several revolutionary laboratory techniques, and unique proppant transport behaviors observed with this equipment that helps to optimize the selection and deployment of various fracturing materials and treatment designs for unconventional wells.