2011 Unconventional Resources

Conductivity Of Complex Fracturing In Unconventional Shale Reservoirs

Subcontractor: Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES)

Principal Investigator: Ding Zhu
Project Number Project Status
11122-07 Completed
RPSEA Project Manager: Joe Renk
Southwestern Energy; Stimlab; Crisman Research Institute, Texas A&M University
Period of Performance
Start Date End Date
June 26, 2013 June 25, 2016
Total Project Cost RPSEA Share Cost Share
$1,104,858.00 $872,459.00 $221,350.00
Project Objectives

The objective of the proposed research was to conduct a systematic experimental study of fracture conductivity in shale oil and gas formations.  The study focused on the conductivity behavior of shales from three formations, namely the Barnett shale, the Fayetteville shale and the Eagle Ford shale. Outcrops and cores from the three shales will be collected, systematic experimental condition will be designed, and conductivity under different closure stresses will be studied by flowing either gas or liquid through the test cells. Both propped and un-propped fracture conductivity will be examined, and the effect of proppant type, size and concentration will be analyzed in the study. The conductivity obtainable in unpropped fractures will be identified, and the mechanims of unpropped conductivity will be examined. The effect of natural fracture, proppant type, size and loading, closure stress, and rock mechanics properties, on fracture conductivity will be carefully examined in the project. Our understanding of fracture conductivity behavior in different shales will be further evaluated by performance prediction with simple models to explain the observation and support the findings from the experimental study.

New procedures and more flexible experimental apparatus has been developed with accurate measurement equipment for fracture conductivity. The similarities and differences in the conductivity behavior among the three shale formations will be summarized from the finding of the study, and experimental observations will be compared with publically reported production history observations to confirm the findings, explain the causes of failures of fracture treatments and unexpected declines of production performance, and provide guidelines for future fracture practices in these shale formations.

Both propped and un-propped fracture conductivity was examined, and the effect of proppant type, size and concentration was analyzed. The goal was to understand fracture conductivity behavior, and therefore to optimize fracture stimulation design, in shale formations.


RPSEA Project Fact Sheet: Download 291.6 KB
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Conductivity of Complex Fracturing in Unconventional Shale Reservoirs ( 52.1 KB ) Technology Status Assessment 12/13