As the hydraulic fracturing sector of the global energy industry continues to grow, further improvements in the field will no doubt come from the refinement and improvement of the technique. As operators look to boost and/or maintain production whilst decreasing the time needed for each frac procedure, small technical and chemical innovations can go a long way towards improving results.
Canadian service company and solutions provider Trican Well Service has, alongside its other frac technology, developed a number of proppant, processes, and water solutions to meet the requirements of the industry. It aims to provide solutions for various types of frac processes, in diverse and complex environments. Some treatments are formulated to maximise tight gas yields, while others focus on maximising the value of oil field water in order to minimise the need for fresh water.
The TriFrac-MLT™ system allows for produced or flowback water to be re-used in further fracturing operations, while the Maximum Volume Placement MVP Frac™ process increases the dispersal of proppant in slick water operations.
Money and fresh water are terrible things to waste™
With this belief as its driving force, Trican’s TriFrac MLT™ system addresses key issues surrounding the sourcing, use, and treatment of water in fracturing operations. Formulated using conventional fracturing fluid components enhanced with patent-pending chemistry, the crosslinked, gelled water system is highly tolerant of brine fluids. This tolerance allows the re-use of 100% untreated flowback water or produced water that occurs along with oil and/or gas production from a well.
The system therefore eliminates the cost associated with upfront freshwater acquisition, and repurposes frac flowback and produced water into an asset that can be incorporated into fracturing fluid systems, rather than becoming a waste product in need of disposal. This dramatically reduces the logistical and infrastructural costs incurred in the sourcing of water. Furthermore, the need for wastewater treatment equipment is eliminated, providing further savings.
TriFrac-MLT enables operators to use water with total dissolved solids (TDS) levels greater than 300,000 parts per million, and hardness greater than 30,000 ppm. Unlike most conventional fracturing fluid systems that are negatively affected by boron, the system’s chemistry supports use in waters with boron levels exceeding 500 ppm.
Operators can also tailor deployment to their requirements using a breaker schedule to optimise the viscosity of the fluid. Crosslinking at temperatures as low as 7°C (45°F), the fluid can also reduce fluid heating costs frequently incurred during colder operations.
The Maximum Volume Placement Frac process is a two-component slick water system designed to maximise the volume and distance of proppant distribution within fractured formations. First, Trican’s non-energised FlowRider™ additive increases the volume of the proppant pack in the fracture. Second, an energised component, consisting of a low volume of nitrogen gas, works in tandem with the FlowRider-treated proppant to transport it further into the formation.
The result is that MVP Frac dramatically reduces the settling of proppant when carrying out slick water fracs. The process fluidises and suspends the sand, carrying it deeper and distributing it more effectively into the reservoir without increasing viscosity. The result reaps all the benefits of slick water, but with a more effective proppant distribution across the fracture network, enhancing well production.
Tests have shown the system can carry proppant 25% further into the reservoir than conventional slick water alone. The mixture of FlowRider and gas allows a thin layer of nitrogen to attach to the sand or proppant, rendering it more buoyant and more efficiently transported. Settling and duning is therefore reduced, and proppant transport is significantly improved, meaning higher concentrations and larger proppant can be used – without the need for gelled fluid sweeps.
Core flow tests demonstrated a 31% increase in regain permeability compared to regular slick water. Proppant pack testing also showed a 19% increase in conductivity when proppant is treated with FlowRider.
Furthermore, MVP Frac reduces the likelihood of a sandoff. Should it still occur, the sand can be easily fluidised, therefore creating a quicker and more complete flow back of the well and limiting the need for coiled tubing cleanouts.
What Trican’s fluid innovations serve to demonstrate are the ways in which cost-consciousness and environmental consciousness need not be mutually exclusive. Both the TriFrac MLT™ and MVP Frac™ systems offer flexibility, increased production and significant savings, especially with regard to large infrastructural issues such as water acquisition. Money, water and time should not be wasted, so Trican strives to provide the best solutions to these industry concerns.