Qualifying proppant performance of the delivered proppant before a frac job,
or verifying proppant performance after a frac job, can add significant value
to propped-fracture stimulations. Current field-testing protocol typically
ensures that a proppant meets certain criteria with a simple yes or no answer.
Seldom are strict collection and testing guidelines followed, as outlined by
the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO). Qualifying proppant performance requires taking quality
control a step further by considering the role that proppant characteristics
play in the performance of proppant in the fracture. Applying a blend of
established practices and new technology, quality-control data can be generated
at the wellsite for comparison with the public domain (literature, websites, or
fracturing simulators). These scientific data give an engineer insight into how
delivered proppants are designed to perform and whether they do so. This
eliminates the need to run expensive and time-consuming conductivity and
permeability tests on every job. However, because proppant flow capacity or
conductivity is a key measure of performance, some empirical results have been
assimilated for wellsite and public data. Any differences in delivered proppant
performance can be attributed to mining anomalies, manufacturing defects,
transportation abuse, and/or contamination.
This paper also introduces new patent-pending technology that enables
wellsite-proppant sampling and evaluation before the fracturing treatment.
Having prefrac data gives one the opportunity to make any necessary changes in
fracture design and implementation to get the most from available proppant. It
also provides for a detailed inspection of the wellsite-delivered proppant
supply. For instance, one can isolate and sample each pneumatic trailer and
monitor associated pneumatic discharge pressures. Case histories, onshore and
offshore, support qualifying proppant performance.
To qualify proppant performance, specific quality-control procedures must be
followed rigidly. API and ISO standards identify three primary tenets: (1)
representative sampling from a flowing stream, (2) standardized testing with
calibrated equipment, and (3) sample retention for follow-up evaluation.
This paper addresses how to apply these principles to evaluate the
performance characteristics of delivered proppant. If wellsite data are
representative and reliable, then one can make comparisons with supplier or
public information to judge propped-fracture-conductivity performance.
© 2009. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- Original manuscript received:
28 June 2006
- Meeting paper published:
24 September 2006
- Revised manuscript received:
24 June 2008
- Manuscript approved:
19 September 2008
- Published online:
16 March 2009
- Version of record:
1 March 2009